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Soundtrack for Italy: My Italian Music Mix

Whenever I travel in Italy, I like to pick up a music CD or two of Italian artists I have trouble finding in the United States. I also often listen to Radio Italia on my computer to learn about new songs and artists I might want to check out. But what if you’re planning a trip to Italy and you just want a few Italian songs to put you in the traveling mood? Or what if you can’t be in Italy right now and you want to transport your ears there for a little while? It is for you, then, that I’ve created this Soundtrack for Italy.

The playlist here is a combination of newer Italian songs I really like, and classics that most every Italian will know – and it should transport you right to Italy (audially speaking, at any rate). Below the playlist box you’ll find a listing of all the songs I’ve included along with links to where you can buy a CD if you like it! Some of these CDs aren’t available on Amazon’s US site, so there are some links to the Amazon UK site – which will cost more in shipping, so keep an eye on that.

In addition to links of where you can buy these CDs (or song downloads, in some cases), I’ve also put links to translations of these songs wherever possible. I can sing along to parts of most of these songs, but I don’t know most of the words or bother to translate them myself. I just enjoy them for the music, humming along where I don’t understand lyrics. So if you’re not interested in what the songs mean, don’t worry – you can still “sing” along anyway. And keep in mind that many of these translations are done by computers instead of humans, so they’re, umm, funky at times. You’ll see what I mean.

Without further ado, have fun listening to my Soundtrack for Italy!

  1. “Volare” – Domenico Modugno – This Italian classic is well-known by anybody who knows anything about Italian music (and many who don’t). “Volare” means “to fly” in Italian. “Volare” translation
    >> Buy Domenico Modugno “Golden Hits”
  2. “Io Nascerò” – Mango – I started listening to Mango because he was cited by my favorite Italian cyclist as his favorite Italian singer, and this greatest hits CD turned out to be a nice introduction to his music. This song title means literally “I will be born,” or more poetically, “I will rise.”
    >> Buy Mango “Visto Così”
  3. “Non Siamo Soli” – Eros Ramazzotti & Ricky Martin – Eros Ramazzotti is one of the big-time Italian musicians who records all his albums (or almost all of them) in both Italian and Spanish, releasing two versions of the same set of songs, to appeal to a wider audience. On this song, the title of which means “we aren’t alone,” he’s teamed up with Latin superstar Ricky Martin, who sings on this track in Italian. I don’t know for sure, but I’d imagine they did a Spanish version of this song where they both sang in Spanish as well. “Non Siamo Soli” translation
    >> Buy Eros Ramazzotti “E2”
  4. “Non Ti Scordar Mai di Me” – Giusy Ferreri – Giusy Ferreri is a new sensation in Italy, having come 2nd in one of their reality TV singing contests. She’s been called the Italian Amy Winehouse, without the drug habit. Let’s hope she stays that way. The title of this song means “never forget me.” “Non Ti Scordar Mai di Me” translation
    >> Buy Giusy Ferreri “Gaetana”
  5. “La Vasca” – Alex Britti – I first heard this song on my first trip to Italy, and loved it instantly for its fun energy. Later, when I found out the title means “the bathtub” I decided it’s kind of the Italian “Splish Splash,” which made it even more fun. “La Vasca” translation
    >> Buy Alex Britti “La Vasca”
  6. “La Compagnia” – Vasco Rossi – I’m not a huge fan of Vasco; he’s got a reputation in Italy for his wild lifestyle (and drug use), but that’s not it. I’ve just never listened to a whole album of his and loved it. (The husband likes him, which is why we have several Vasco CDs.) But I love this song. Imagine my lack of surprise, then, when I found out it’s not a Vasco Rossi song – it was written in 1969 by Marisa Sannia, and made popular by Lucio Battisti in the mid-1970s. The title means “the company,” and the term can refer to both a business company or social company (as in keeping someone company). “La Compagnia” translation
    >> Buy Vasco Rossi “Extended Play”
  7. “Buonanotte all’Italia” – Ligabue – I love Ligabue; he’s got a great rock voice and great songs that are fun to sing along with. He’s just come out with two CDs recently, and one of them is basically a greatest hits CD with a couple new songs. One of those new songs is this one, which translates to “goodnight Italy.” “Buonanotte all’Italia” translation
    >> Buy Ligabue “Primo Tempo”
  8. “La Canzone del Sole” – Lucio Battisti – Lucio Battisti is one of those Italian singers that everyone in Italy knows and can sing along with, and this song is a particular favorite. Imagine the Italian version of, say, Bob Dylan (but with a better voice). The song title means “song of the sun.” “La Canzone del Sole” translation
    >> Buy Lucio Battisti “Le Avventure di Lucio Battisti e Mogol”
  9. “Il Mare Calmo della Sera” – Andrea Bocelli – Andrea Bocelli is part opera singer and part pop singer; he’s successfully made the jump to being a cross-over artist, but this song helped bring him to where he is today back at the Sanremo Music Festival in 1994, when it earned him the win in the “youth” category. The title means “the calm sea of the evening.” “Il Mare Calmo della Sera” translation
    >> Buy Andrea Bocelli “Romanza”
  10. “La Solitudine” – Laura Pausini – Another artist who records pretty much every album in both Italian and Spanish, Laura Pausini is also someone who got a major boost from the Sanremo Music Festival in 1993 when she won the “youth” category with this song. The title means “the loneliness.” “La Solitudine” translation
    >> Buy Laura Pausini “Laura Pausini”
  11. “Madre Terra” – Tazenda (with Francesco Renga) – Tazenda is a band that hails from Sardinia, so their lyrics are often as much in Sardinian as they are in Italian (Sardinian is so much its own language and not just an accent that Italians who aren’t from Sardinia usually can’t understand it). This song’s title, however, is Italian and means “mother earth.”
    >> Buy Tazenda “Madre Terra”
  12. “Luce” – Elisa – Elisa is an Italian singer and songwriter who’s been singing primarily in English since she started her career in her late teens; she studied music in California, and even this song (which means “light”) was originally recorded in English and only later translated into Italian. The Italian version won Elisa the grand prize at the Sanremo Music Festival in 2001. She’s attempting to make a name for herself in the U.S. now, and released her first all-English CD, “Dancing,” in mid-2008. “Luce” translation
    >> Buy Elisa “Soundtrack 96-06” and Elisa’s new all-English debut “Dancing”
  13. “Pensa” – Fabrizio Moro – This is yet another winner of the “youth” category at the Sanremo Music Festival; Fabrizio Moro won with this politcal song in 2007. The title means simply “think,” but the song is about the people in Italy who have fought the mafia for years, sometimes to their deaths. “Pensa” translation
    >> Buy Fabrizio Moro “Pensa”
  14. “Laura Non C’È” – Nek – Nek is one of my favorite Italian singers, largely because he enunciates so clearly when he sings that he’s great for someone learning the language. He also records many (if not all) of his albums in Spanish. This song, which means “Laura’s not there,” was probably his first big hit. “Laura Non C’È” translation
    >> Buy Nek “L’Anno Zero: Best of Nek”
  15. “La Notte” – Neffa – I got hooked on Neffa’s jazzy songs a couple years ago, and this is a perfect example of them. His music is really varied, so the songs don’t all sound like this, but I really enjoy his voice as well as his jazzy-ness. The title of this song means “the night.” “La Notte” translation
    >> Buy Neffa “Alla Fine della Notte”
  16. “Basta!” – L’Aura – I got introduced to L’Aura when she performed this song (the title means “enough”) at the Sanremo Music Festival in 2008. She didn’t win anything, but I really liked the song. It’s an anti-war song of sorts, and although I can’t find her album anywhere on Amazon you’ll get this song on the Sanremo 2008 compilation (along with many of the other songs in the competition).
    >> Buy “Super Sanremo 2008”
  17. “Gianna” – Rino Gaetano – Rino Gaetano is another great Italian singer from the 1970s, and although he only came 3rd in the 1978 Sanremo Music Festival with “Gianna,” the song became an instant hit. Sadly, he died in a car accident in 1981 at the age of 30. “Gianna” translation
    >> Buy Rino Gaetano “Storia”
  18. “Gino e L’Alfetta” – Daniele Silvestri – Every time I listen to Radio Italia, I hear one or two of Daniele Silvestri’s songs. They’re all upbeat and fun to sing along with, both of which are traits of good songs in my book. This song’s title means “Gino and the Alfetta,” an Alfetta being a model of Alfa Romeo. “Gino e L’Alfetta” translation
    >> Buy Daniele Silvestri “Il Latitante”
  19. “Baila Morena” – Zucchero – Adelmo Fornaciari is much more well-known by his stage name of Zucchero (“sugar” in Italian), and has been a wildly popular Italian singer since the 1970s. He does many of his albums in Spanish as well as Italian, and also has done several songs in English as well. Want some fun Zucchero trivia? He led a band in the 1980s that featured American Idol’s Randy Jackson on bass. The title of this song isn’t Italian, but “baila” is “dance” in Spanish and “morena” is a woman who’s dark-haired, dark-skinned, or tanned… The English title of this song is “Baila (Sexy Thing),” so it’s basically “dance, sexy woman” in any language. “Baila Morena” translation from Spanish to English (he recorded the same song in Spanish, too)
    >> Buy Zucchero “All the Best”
  20. “Indimenticabile!” – Antonello Venditti – Antonello Venditti is another singer who was popular in the 1970s, but he’s still somewhat popular today. This song title means “unforgettable.” “Indimenticabile” translation
    >> Buy Antonello Venditti “Dalla Pelle al Cuore”
  21. “L’Amore” – Sonohra – Sonohra won the “youth” category of the Sanremo Music Festival in 2008 with this song, and I remember being in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo when they were on MTV Italia which was recording in a balcony overlooking the piazza… That end of the piazza was crammed with screaming teenage girls holding big painted signs declaring their love for the members of the band. I’ll admit, the boys are pretty cute. But it’s mainly this song that I like so much. The title means “love.” “L’Amore” translation
    >> Buy Sonohra “Liberi da Sempre”
  22. “Ferro e Cartone” – Francesco Renga – Another graduate of the Sanremo Music Festival, Francesco Renga won the grand prize in 2005. This song, the title of which means “iron and cardboard,” is from his most recent album of the same name, released in 2007. “Ferro e Cartone” translation
    >> Buy Francesco Renga “Ferro e Cartone”
  23. “Nessun Dorma” – Pavarotti – No Italian soundtrack would be complete without something from the great Pavarotti, and what better Pavarotti aria than one of his most famous? The title means “no one sleeps,” and it’s from Puccini’s opera “Turandot.” “Nessun Dorma” translation
    >> Buy Pavarotti “Pavarotti Forever”
  24. “Fango” – Jovanotti – Jovanotti is an Italian singer whose work drifts between pop, rock, and hip-hop. This is one of his newest songs from his most recent album, and the title means “mud.” “Fango” translation
    >> Buy Jovanotti “Safari”
  25. “Domo Mia” – Tazenda (with Eros Ramazzotti) – Tazenda’s making another appearance on this soundtrack, partly because I love this song, and partly because of the two this is one I could find a translation for. It’s also in both Italian and Sardinian. The title means “my house.” “Domo Mia” translation
    >> Buy Tazenda “Vida”
  26. “Il Solito Sesso” – Max Gazzé – This is another song I discovered thanks to the Sanremo Music Festival in 2008; at the start you’ll hear a phone ringing, and then the whole song is basically a man leaving a message on a woman’s answering machine. The man has just met the woman and is hoping to see her again, despite knowing that she has a boyfriend, so it’s not surprising that the title means “the usual sex” in Italian. “Il Solito Sesso” translation
    >> Buy Max Gazzé “Tra L’Aratro e la Radio”
  27. “Sono Quello Che Vuoi Tu” – Anna Tatangelo – Despite only being 21 years old, Anna Tatangelo has already made quite a name for herself on the Italian music scene. She won the “youth” category of the Sanremo Music Festival in 2002 at the age of 15 (the youngest ever to win that category), and her star has continued to rise. This song title means essentially “I’m whatever you want me to be.” “Sono Quello Che Vuoi Tu” translation
    >> Buy Anna Tatangelo “Mai Dire Mai”
  28. “Alla Mia Età” – Tiziano Ferro – Tiziano Ferro is a popular Italian singer who records his albums both in Spanish and in Italian. I’ve got a couple of his CDs, but this song is from the album of the same name that just came out in November 2008. The song already hit #1 in Italy, and I think it’s absolutely beautiful. The title means “at my age.” He’s younger than me, so the fact that he’s already reflecting on his age at his age makes me a little uncomfortable, but I just ignore that when I listen to the song.
    >> Buy Tiziano Ferro “Alla Mia Età”
  29. “L’Immenso” – Negramaro – While the Italian music charts seem to be dominated by individuals rather than bands, Negramaro is a great Itaian rock band; they also got a boost from the Sanremo Music Festival in 2005 even though they didn’t come close to winning. This song is one of their more “low-key” songs, a power ballad if you will, and the title means “the immensity.”
    >> Buy Negramaro “Finestra”
  30. “Sei Fantastica” – Max Pezzali – Max Pezzali once fronted the Italian pop band 883, but embarked on a solo career in 2004. This song comes from his summer 2007 album, and the title means “you’re fantastic.” “Sei Fantastica” translation
    >> Buy Max Pezzali “Time Out”
  31. “Fresco” – Daniele Battaglia – I first heard Daniele Battaglia on Radio Italia, and although he’s more sort of cotten candy pop than I usually go for, I like how clearly he enunciates his words and I think this song is particularly fun. The title means “fresh.”
    >> Buy Daniele Battaglia “Tutto il Mare che Vorrei”
  32. “50 Special” – Lùnapop – Lùnapop is a band I heard on my first trip to Italy; the music was fun and upbeat, and had a great sense of humor. The band has since broken up (in fact, I’m not sure they recorded any more than this album), but the lead singer has gone on to a solo career in Italy. This song’s title is the name of a particular Vespa scooter model, and the song is about getting out of the city with your girl on the back of your scooter. “50 Special” translation (the translation changes “Vespa” to “wasps” occasionally, just pretend it’s still “Vespa!”)
    >> Buy Lùnapop “…squérez?”
  33. “Mambo Italiano” – Rosemary Clooney – “Mambo Italiano” is one of those songs that makes me think of Italy, even if it’s in English and the lyrics are pretty ridiculous. I hope no translation is necessary for this one.
    >> Buy Rosemary Clooney “16 Biggest Hits”
  34. “Fratelli d’Italia” – Mameli – Now, you’re not going to hear this played on Italian radio, but if you ever watch an Italian sporting event you’ll hear this sung with gusto. It’s the Italian national anthem, and I love listening to crowds of Italians singing along. “Fratelli d’Italia” translation
    >> Buy “National Anthems of the World”

A couple classic Italian songs that didn’t make it onto the list (because they weren’t among the files I could choose from) but which would definitely have made the cut are:

  • “Tu Vuo’ Fa’ l’Americano” – Renato Carasone – This song appeared in “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and it’s a fantastic example of classic Neapolitan music by one of Italy’s greats. Renato Carosone’s success was mainly in the 1950s, and he is still considered one of the greatest Italian musicians ever. The song title means “you want to make like an American,” and you can learn more about what the song means with this translation.
    >> Buy Renato Carosone “Tu Vuo’ Fa’ l’Americano”
  • “Basta Così – Sergio Endrigo – I first got introduced to this song when a classmate of mine learned it and performed it for an Italian teacher of ours for whom Sergio Endrigo had long been a major heartthrob. He was primarily popular in the 1960s, and won the Sanremo Music Festival in 1968. The song title means “that’s enough.”
    >> Buy Sergio Endrigo “I Grandi Successi Originali”

As mentioned earlier, for most of these songs I don’t exactly pay attention to what the lyrics mean… So if you find a better translation than one I’ve listed (or find a translation for a song I don’t have translated), or want to correct me on any of this stuff, please do!

original photo at the top by !borghetti