Happy Birthday, Italy!
On March 17, 1861, Vittorio Emanuele II, hitherto king of Sardinia, was proclaimed King of Italy (Re d'Italia) by the first Italian parliament. Therefore today, March 17, 2011, Italy turns 150.
To mark the anniversary, I decided to write a "different" post, a commentary to a YouTube video (by StevePop100). While you listen to a nice song by Italian singer and songwriter Jovanotti, titled Ora (Now), you'll see images of people, who played an important role in Italian political and cultural history after WWII. (A comprehensive list would require a long movie, but this is a good selection.) I will list their names and provide a translation of some of the quotes. The video is interesting because it captures history from various perspectives, including politics, sport, cinema, literature and science.
- Garibaldi's army lands in Sicily in 1860 (images from a movie).
- "The worst of all democracies is better than the best of all dictatorships." Sandro Pertini, the most popular President in Italian history
- July 1982: Italy has won the FIFA World Cup: then President Sandro Pertini plays cards with the team's head coach, Enzo Bearzot, and two players on the flight back from Madrid. This video shows the three goals scored by Rossi, Tardelli and Altobelli against Germany and the uncontainable joy of the President, who at the end of the game joined the team on the field. [Italy won another World Cup in 2006.]
- Director and actor Vittorio de Sica and actor Alberto Sordi
- Tazio Nuvolari, "the best racecar driver of the past, the present and the future."
- "An actor does his best to become famous and when he succeeds, he puts on a pair of dark glasses to avoid being recognized." Actor Marcello Mastroianni
- A famous scene from Fellini's 1960 movie La dolce vita: Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in Fontana di Trevi
- "Italy is the only place in the world where first the culture was born, then the state. We must be proud of this." Actor, comedian, director Roberto Benigni
- 1998: actress Sophia Loren shouts to announce that Roberto Benigni has won the Academy Award for his movie La vita è bella (Life is beautiful). This video shows the award ceremony and Benigni's speech. Loren won the Oscar in 1962.
- "A politician looks at the next election. A statesman looks at the next generation." Alcide De Gasperi, Italian Prime Minister in the years immediately following the end of WWII
- Enrico Berlinguer, national secretary of the Italian Communist Party.
- "And it is not so easy to free oneself of feelings as it is of ideas: the latter come and go, but feelings remain" from La noia by Alberto Moravia
- Writer Alberto Moravia at his desk
- "Dear Italy, because right or wrong as it may be, this is my country, with its great virtues and its great defects." Journalist Enzo Biagi
- Enzo Biagi during an interview and in a photo together with journalist Indro Montanelli, who in 1977 was shot in the legs by the Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades), one of the terrorist organizations that operated during the period of Italian history referred to as gli anni di piombo (years of lead).
- Don Lorenzo Milani, catholic priest and educator
- "When they say that the blue jersey is the winning post of every soccer player, they merely say the truth." Soccer player Roberto Baggio
- Baggio scores a goal while wearing the blue jersey of Italy's national soccer team. From the color of the jersey comes the team's nickname gli azzurri.
- "People pass, but ideas remain, their moral tension remains and will keep walking on other people's legs." Judge Giovanni Falcone, killed (together with his wife and their Police escort) by the mafia on the road between Palermo and the airport in 1992.
- Falcone (left) with judge Paolo Borsellino, assassinated shortly after Falcone.
- "The best Ferrari ever built is the next one." Enzo Ferrari
- In this snippet from the 1954 movie Un americano a Roma (An American in Rome), actor Alberto Sordi claims he wants to eat like an American, but he ends up "destroying" a large serving of spaghetti, which he calls "macaroni." The whole scene is visible in this post.
- Actors Totò and Peppino de Filippo in the 1956 movie Totò, Peppino e... la malafemmina. They are in Milan's Piazza Duomo: they try to ask a vigile urbano (traffic policeman) for directions, but manage to creat a great confusion. The whole scene is visible in this video.
- Film director Sergio Leone, of Spaghetti Western fame
- Poet Eugenio Montale, 1975 Nobel Prize for Literature
- Film director Federico Fellini
- In 1958, Domenico Modugno makes everybody sing Nel blu dipinto di blu (In the blue sky, painted in blue), a.k.a., Volare (To fly)
- Cyclist Fausto Coppi
- "Intellectual courage of the truth and political practice are two irreconciliable things in Italy." Writer and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini
- Union leader Luciano Lama
- "The body doesn't matter. What matters is the mind." Neurologist Rita Levi Montalcini, 1986 Nobel Prize for Medicine
- Rita Levi Montalcini during an interview
- Pope John XXIII, known as il Papa buono (good Pope John), speaks to people from his window high above Saint Peter's Square: "Go home tonight and hug your children, and tell them it is a hug from the Pope."
A few lines from the song:
They say it's true that when we are born everything is already written in a scheme
They say it's true that there is only one way to solve a problem
They say it's true that to each enthusiasm corresponds the same quantity of frustration
They say it's true, but even if it were true it would not justify
Not doing it again, not doing it again
There's no mountain higher than the one I won't climb
There's no bet more lost than the one I won't place
This is my contribution to FrancescaV chiama Italia an event organized by Francesca of FrancescaV to celebrate Italy's sesquicentennial. The logo says "Italian recipes and a lot more," and I decided to contribute to the "lots more."
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post
or launch the buon compleanno, Italia! audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]