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The Anthem of Mameli: History and Meaning of a National Symbol
But how much do we really know about its origins and historical evolution?
The text of the Italian national anthem, known as the Mameli Hymn, was written in the autumn of 1847 by Goffredo Mameli. At the time, Mameli was a young Genoese student and patriot, a leading figure in the Italian Risorgimento movement. He died at just 21 years old, due to a wound suffered in battle.

Mameli decided to turn to the composer Michele Novaro for the musical part, rejecting the idea of adapting his text to already existing music. Novaro accepted the assignment and, a short time later in Turin, the composition was completed, including the famous "yes" shouted at the end.

On 10 December 1847, the anthem was performed for the first time in Genoa, during a commemoration of the revolt of the Portoria neighborhood against the Habsburg occupiers. At the time, Italy was divided and struggling for independence and unity, and Mameli's anthem became a symbol of these aspirations.

For years, however, Mameli's anthem was the subject of controversy. It was prohibited first by the Savoy police and then by the Austrian one. Despite the prohibitions, the anthem was frequently performed as an act of rebellion, particularly during the three wars of independence.

After the Second World War and the fall of fascism, the Canto degli Italiani returned to be heard, particularly in anti-fascist circles. In the 1980s, it was President Sandro Pertini who gave new impetus to the anthem, "almost" forcing the national football team to sing it during the 1982 World Cup, which Italy won.

From provisional to definitive after 71 years

The debate over what the national anthem of the Italian Republic should be has gone on for decades. Only in 2017, after seventy years of republican history, “Il Canto degli Italiani” has finally been recognized as the Italian national anthem also at a legislative level.

There is more

The complete text of the «Song of the Italians»

VerseText
1Brothers of Italy, Italy has awakened, she has put her head around Scipio's helmet. Where is the victory?! Give her your hair, for God created her as a slave to Rome
R.Let's gather together in a cohort, let's be ready for death, let's be ready for death, Italy called.
2We have been trampled upon for centuries, mocked because we are not People, because we are divided: gather us together a single flag, a hope: the hour has already struck to merge together.
3Let us unite, let us love each other, union and love reveal to people the ways of the Lord; we swear to make our native soil free: united for God, who can conquer us!?
4From the Alps to Sicily, wherever Legnano is, every man has Ferruccio's heart, he has the hand, the children of Italy are called Balilla, the sound of every bell rings the Vespers.
5They are rushes that bend sold swords: ah the Austrian eagle has lost its feathers; she drank the blood of Italy, with the Cossack the Polish blood: but her heart burned.
6Long live Italy, she has awakened from her sleep, she has wrapped her head in Scipio's helmet. Where is the victory?! Give her your hair, for God created her as a slave to Rome

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