Unlikely music critic of the day

We arrived in Rome at night to a reception ceremony held for security reasons in the courtyard of the Quirinale Palace. Colorful lancers on horseback were lined up in neat rows as the national anthems were played. The charming Italian anthem is probably the least martial-sounding one in the world; it is not easy to go forth to battle to the strains of what sounds almost like a waltz.

—Henry Kissinger, White House Years (1979), p. 921

Dr. Kissinger apparently doesn’t appreciate the considerably rousing power of the traditional cantilena-cabaletta sequence of Italian opera. The Inno de Mameli (“Fratelli d’Italia”)—tune by Goffredo Mameli’s friend Michele Novaro—dates from 1847. Sing along with the MP3! (1.3 MB)

Fratelli d’Italia,
L’Italia s’è desta
Dell’elmo di Scipio
S’è cinta la testa.
Dove’è la Vittoria?
Le porga la chioma;
Chè schiava di Roma
Iddio la creò.
Stringiamoci a coorte,
Siam pronti alla morte;
Siam pronti alla morte:
Italia chiamò!
Italian brothers,
Italy has risen
With Scipio’s helmet
Upon her head.
Where is Victory?
Let her bow down;
The slave of Rome
God has made her.
Let us gather into corps,
We are ready to die;
We are ready to die:
Italy is calling!

And here’s Gli Azzurri, the Italian national football team, approaching the task with enthusiasm at their 2006 World Cup victory celebration.

Previously: 1, 2.


  1. The marching band I was in as a kid actually played this. It was for some procession in an Italian part of town. (I believe we also played the theme from The Godfather and Finiculi, Finicula. Seriously.) It sounds just like I remember it — that is, like a drinking song. Nice to know the words now.

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