Italy’s National Anthem [Audio]

National anthems stir many thoughts and feelings. Inciting anything from healthy love of country to overly aggressive patriotism. For music has an extraordinary ability to ignite hearts and passions. And Song of the Italians, Italy’s national anthem, is no exception.

Not being Italian, I can’t really say what The Song of the Italians does to the Italian heart and mind, though I imagine this probably changes with each generation.

Our Zio Pietro

But I do have an idea what it might have meant to Zio Pietro (Uncle Peter) as we fondly called him. When we bought our tiny house the Zio, I’m sure, was the happiest of all people. For this is the home he grew up in. And it was he who planted our two olive trees, now around 40-50 years old!

Spry and cheerful, right up to his death at 92, we often passed him on his long walks around town.

But more than anything he loved visitors and telling of old times! We always found him ready with a warm welcome and good story. Like how, after marriage, he and his wife lived in this 645 sq.ft. (60 sq meters) house along with his parents and two unmarried sisters.

Although he often repeated the same stories, we listened eagerly! And he never failed to thank us for buying his father’s house and fixing it up. Knowing that the old place would live on seemed to bring him great joy!

The zio’s olive trees

Hubby and I have a special affinity with older people. He, perhaps, because of being raised by older parents (aged 42 and 43 at his birth). And I grew up surrounded by grandparents, and even a great-grandmother! We love talking with them. Hearing of days gone by, and learning from their wisdom.

His WW2 stories

Zio Pietro’s best story, or at least our favorite, involved his trip home from Russia after World War II. Hearing of his transcontinental trek during the dead cold of winter with his feet wrapped in rags. And how he trudged slowly homeward, Europe’s railways strewn about him in ruins. It always made us realize how blessed and spoiled we are.

We always came away a sense of greatness. Of a generation who did their duty, endured great hardship and overcame. And even though Italy’s involvement with the Axis powers on the Eastern Front (Russia) was not admirable, it always made us think of those who fought to end the evil and aggression.

Of people who fought because they believed there were things in this world worth fighting for. Who were willing to suffer and die for their people, their nation, and what they felt was right. And of all the Italian soldiers who fought for what was right after Italy’s freedom from dictatorship.

Song of the Italians

Zio Pietro would surely have known The Song of the Italians, or Brothers of Italy, as it also known. Listen to it (below) and try to imagine what this paesano (villager) may have felt while listening to his national anthem. Glad to be going home, satisfied at having done his duty.

[Italy’s National Anthem via Wikimedia.]

Italians usually refer to this patriotic battle hymn as Mameli’s Hymn, in honor of its author. It was already well known in the mid 1800s. Especially after its first public debut during a patriotic celebration in front of the Madonna of Loreta Sanctuary in Genova (below) in 1847.

Even though it wasn’t until 1945 and the end of World War II that it became the unofficial national anthem. For the hymn had fallen out of popularity during the Fascist days when only Fascist songs were acceptable.

This unofficial status continued up until 2012, when it was officially declared Italy’s national anthem. Which to me, is highly symbolic of Italy – the land of slow living. “We’ll get around to it domani (tomorrow).” But here in Italy domani is often a long time in arriving!

Let us join in a cohort (military unit). We are ready to die. We are ready to die, Italy has called, the chorus says.

Mameli’s Hymn (Italy’s National Anthem)

But what did Zio Pietro think of when he heard those words of victory, valor, and hope? Did he remember his long march from Russia? Glad that his battle days were over?

Listen to the song. Can’t you just picture him coming, back straight, rifle against his shoulder, marching home from Russia? This well-known refrain playing in his mind?

How did you feel while listening to the Song of the Italians? And how does your national anthem make you feel?

Image credits: Genova santuary by Alessandro Vecchi from Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA 3.0. | Music score | Others are my own.

Published by Signora Sheila

Wife, mom, nonna, missionary, and Bible student on a spiritual walk with Christ @mycammino. Because life is at heart a spiritual journey of going further up and further in, into the Father heart of God.

8 thoughts on “Italy’s National Anthem [Audio]

    1. Well, you got me with that question, Pete! It really made me think. The Italian troops were there as part of the Axis powers. Not an admirable endeavor, and I have revised the post to inculde this fact. Yet while editing I relived the times with the Zio, and I can still say we came away with a sense of greatness. He was a simple soldier obeying orders under a dictatorship with little chance of doing otherwise. And I’m sure he faced that experience, as well as much of his hard life, with courage, endurance, and grit. Truly a man to admire and remember with fondness! Thanks for helping me set the story straight!

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      1. A close friend of our grew up in Italy and managed to stay out of the army because he was only 14-15 and stayed to help on the farm. His stories of Italy mirror your Zio. They were poor but proud and not so many of the common folks were fans of Mussolini.

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      2. You’re so right, Pete. A lot of the common folks were staunchly against Mussolini. And glad to see him go!

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  1. I enjoyed your story. I know you will miss him. I too like to listen to the older generations stories. I wasn’t able to hear the music but you did paint a good word picture of him marching home.

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    1. Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Actually our Zio Pietro passed away a few years ago and we do miss him and all his great stories. I was already notified about the audio not working – and it is working now if you want to try again. I think it helps to imagine the scene.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Listen to the song. Can’t you just picture him coming, back straight, rifle against his shoulder, marching home from Russia? This well-known refrain playing in his mind?”
    Absolutely. A great song to march to, literally and figuratively.
    An excellent post, Sheila – from the personal to the national and the link between both.
    On that note: the link didn’t work for me, but the one in the wikimedia credit did.

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    1. Thanks Cynthia – it definitely came from my heart. I can still picture Zio Pietro recounting his stories, even though he passed away a few years ago. So I’m so glad that you enjoyed it!! And thanks for letting me know about the audio not working – I got it working right now!

      Liked by 1 person

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