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.]
grazie mille Simona, e auguri!
Posted by: FrancescaV | March 17, 2011 at 09:50 AM
That is so great! I have to watch the whole movie when I'm at home. I did see up to Sophia Loren and Roberto B. at the Academy Awards -- I remember that night. She looked so beautiful. But I digress. Who needs St. Patrick's Day? Viva Italia!
Posted by: Lisa | March 17, 2011 at 12:47 PM
nonostante i tempi abbiamo per fortuna di chi e cosa essere orgogliosi, hai messo insieme una bella carellata di persone che hanno fatto in modo di far conoscere l'italia non solo per la mafia o il "papi".... buon compleanno ITALIA!!!
Posted by: astrofiammante | March 17, 2011 at 11:55 PM
Buon compleanno Italia! Beautiful video and tribute. Yesterday my German teacher asked me if he should congratulate with me about Italy's birthday - and I answered I am discovering how much I love my country now, living abroad.
Posted by: Caffettiera | March 18, 2011 at 02:34 AM
Cara Simona - thanks very much for putting this together. I am going on Sunday to a all day program at the Museo ItaloAmericano in San Francisco entitled "Italy United: From Concept to Reality" and am very much looking forward to it. Grazie.
Posted by: Mike Moyle | March 18, 2011 at 06:40 AM
Simona, this post is FANTASTIC! Wow... mi ha fatto venire la pelle d'oca...
Posted by: Jeremy Parzen | March 18, 2011 at 07:08 AM
Happy Anniversary Simona. Great song and video.
l'Italia s'è desta,
dell'elmo di Scipio
s'è cinta la testa.
We used to sing this at school (La Terra Santa di Cipro)! I still remember a long of songs our Italian nuns would teach us.
Posted by: Ivy | March 18, 2011 at 12:56 PM
Grazie a te, Francesca, per aver organizzato l'evento.
Ciao Lisa. I thought it was really nice that Sophia Loren announced the award for Benigni. I am afraid St. Patrick's Day was not much in my mind this year. I hope you'll enjoy the video.
Ciao Astro. Il video mi e' piaciuto subito per la scelta di personaggi da vari campi. E mi e' venuta subito l'idea di commentarlo per un pubblico non italiano. Magari in futuro scrivero' qualche dettaglio in piu' su qualcuno degli episodi citati. In tema di politica, non conoscevo le parole di De Gasperi. Dovrebbero scriverle a caratteri cubitali a Montecitorio e Palazzo Madama.
Ciao Caffettiera. Certainly, living abroad gives you a different perspective about your own country but also makes you appreciate more certain characteristics. So many people devoted their life to make Italy a united country and then to defend it. It is important to remember all of them. Pertini's words acquire special poignancy in the face of the images we've seen recently of people in the middle east fighting to obtain freedom from dictators.
Ciao Mike. I am glad the Museo is doing something special to mark the anniversary. I loved the video at first sight and immediately got the idea of explaining it to people not familiar with Italian history (in the broader sense). Maybe in the future I will go back to some of the videos quoted and explain them in detail, like the scene with Toto’ and Peppino, or the words of President Pertini in the World Cup video.
Ciao Jeremy. Mi ci e' voluto un po' di tempo per fare le traduzioni e dare il contesto dei vari pezzetti, ma mi ha fatto piacere rivedere scene del passato. Il mio preferito e' il video di Pertini. Non sono tifosa di calcio, ma quella partita li' ce l'ho nel cuore.
Ciao Ivy. You always manage to surprise me: that's so amazing that you know the Italian national anthem! It's interesting that you sang it in school. Now I am wondering what other Italian songs you know.
Posted by: Simona Carini | March 18, 2011 at 10:17 PM
What a wonderful aniversary / birthday tribute!
Posted by: Katie | March 19, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Auguri, Italia! Loved the video.
Paz (who loves Roberto Baggio (and the Inspector)!) ;-)
Posted by: Paz | March 19, 2011 at 06:13 PM
Happy Birthday Italia,forza Italia
Posted by: shuttle | March 20, 2011 at 12:34 PM
Thanks, Katie. I am glad you liked it. I was inspired.
Thank you, Paz. I didn't know you loved Baggio. Do you know that last year he was given the prestigious
Posted by: Simona Carini | March 20, 2011 at 03:45 PM
happy belated Birthday to this beautiful country! That is a great tribute and a great video! Thank you for providing all the info around it.
Number 3 is definitely my Dad's favourite one ;-)
Posted by: Sweet Artichoke | March 21, 2011 at 06:35 AM
I'm sorry that I hadn't heard of this earlier, but I'm glad I could read your post. Your love of your country is always touching, Simona. Grazie!
Posted by: susan from food blogga | March 21, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Ciao Ms. Artichoke. Number 3 is very dear to my heart too :) I am glad you enjoyed the video and the post.
Ciao Susan. Thanks for your kind words.
Posted by: Simona Carini | March 22, 2011 at 04:39 PM
Grazie mille per questo post. Mi ha incredibilmente commosso. La canzone, tanti ricordi. Essere Italiana all'estero e' difficile per me. Da un lato ci sono cosi' tante cose che mi fanno sentire un'enorme nostalgia di questo paese, e dall'altro ce ne sono altre che non mi fanno piu' sentire a casa quando torno.
Posted by: Marta | March 26, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Ciao Marta. Mi fa piacere sapere che il post ti ha commosso. Quando ho visto il video per la prima volta, mi sono commossa anch'io e la cosa si e' ripetuta mentre guardavo i vari video citati, soprattutto quello del Presidente Pertini durante la finale dei mondiali di calcio. Anche a me viene nostalgia di certe cose, e quando sono li' ci sono cose che mi fanno sentire un po' straniera. Credo che sia il destino comune degli espatriati. Un abbraccio.
Posted by: Simona Carini | March 27, 2011 at 02:34 PM