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The Italian National Anthem: “Fratelli d’Italia”


A country’s national anthem can tell you a lot about the country, its history and its people. The German anthem has always struck me as quite reserved and ordered, like the Germans I know. (And I’m half-German.)

(The German anthem also happens to be the same music that was my high school’s and the husband’s college’s alma maters, so when Michael Schumacher used to win a Formula 1 race we’d sing our competing songs over the broadcast. But I digress.)

The Italian national anthem, by comparison, begins in a stately way and ends with such enthusiasm and energy that it seems to typify the energy of the Italians themselves. It’s alternately called Il Canto degli Italiani (The Song of the Italians), Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) or L’Inno di Mameli (Mameli’s Hymn, after the man who wrote the words), and though it was only made the official anthem in 2005 (it was chosen as a provisional anthem when Italy was unified in 1946), it has stuck. There are occasional talks about changing the anthem, though I haven’t heard any that go beyond talk.

The text of the anthem in Italian can be found here, and the translated text is:

Brothers of Italy,
Italy has awakened,
With Scipio’s helment
She has bound her head.
Where is Victory?
Let her bow down,
For God has made her
Rome’s slave.

Let us join in cohort,
We are ready to die!
We are ready to die!
Italy has called,
Let us join in cohort
We are ready to die!
We are ready to die!
Italy has called, yes!

You can hear a rousing chorus of the anthem sung here, and played any time Ferrari wins a car race or Italy wins the World Cup.