Ecco Le Marche

Who doesn’t know Bella Ciao, the Italian song with a catchy melody? In recent years, the song became popular worldwide as the soundtrack of the TV series Casa de Papel and since 2018 it has been hitting the clubs as the Hugel Remix. There is an adapted version that is now popular in Ukraine.

I must say, as an Italian, it really annoys me that such an important and meaningful song for the Italian history has been brutalized in so many ways. I am happy that my co-blogger Elke brought this topic up, and we now have a chance to talk about it, and do it justice (with a hint of Le Marche).

Here is a particularly beautiful version from the singer Tosca:

What is the song about?

Today the song is probably the best-known song of the Italian partisan movement that fought against the German invaders in World War II. Terrible massacres of the civilian population were committed by the German Wehrmacht and partisan groups were founded, which usually gathered in remote, rural regions to fight the German troops.

Every year on April 25, the Italian Giornata della Liberazione (Day of Liberation from Fascism and the Germans), Bella Ciao is therefore sung or played at many commemorations. Several major parties have recently tabled a proposal to even make the song the official anthem of April 25 in the future.

Here is the original Italian text and English translation:

Una mattina mi son svegliato,
o bella, ciao! bella, ciao! bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
Una mattina mi son svegliato,
e ho trovato l’invasor.

O partigiano, portami via,
o bella, ciao! bella, ciao! bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
O partigiano, portami via,
ché mi sento di morir.

E se io muoio da partigiano,
o bella, ciao! bella, ciao! bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
E se io muoio da partigiano,
tu mi devi seppellir.

E seppellire lassù in montagna,
o bella, ciao! bella, ciao! bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
E seppellire lassù in montagna,
sotto l’ombra di un bel fior.

Tutte le genti che passeranno,
o bella, ciao! bella, ciao! bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
Tutte le genti che passeranno,
Mi diranno «Che bel fior!»

«È questo il fiore del partigiano»,
o bella, ciao! bella, ciao! bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
«È questo il fiore del partigiano,
morto per la libertà!»

English translation:

One morning I awakened
Oh Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful! Bye! Bye!
One morning I awakened
And I found the invader

Oh partisan carry me away
Oh Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful! Bye! Bye!
Oh partisan carry me away
Because I feel death approaching

And if I die as a partisan
(And if I die on the mountain)
Oh Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful! Bye! Bye!
And if I die as a partisan
(And if I die on the mountain)
Then you must bury me

Bury me up in the mountain
(And you have to bury me)
Oh Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful! Bye! Bye!
Bury me up in the mountain
(And you have to bury me)
Under the shade of a beautiful flower

And the people who shall pass
(And all those who shall pass)
Oh Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful! Bye! Bye!
And the people who shall pass
(And all those who shall pass)
Will tell me: “what a beautiful flower”
(And they will say: “what a beautiful flower”)

This is the flower of the partisan

(And this is the flower of the partisan)
Oh Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful, Goodbye beautiful!
Bye! Bye!
This is the flower of the partisan

(And this is the flower of the partisan)
Who died for freedom

But where does the song come from and what does it have to do with Le Marche region?

There are a few theories as to where this Italian folk song first appeared. The earlier assumption that it came from rice workers in northern Italy has been refuted because it was actually sung there, but only since the 1960s. It has long been suspected that Bella Ciao originated in central Italy, but initially it was attributed to the famous Maiella partisan brigade from Abruzzo to the south, which at times rushed to help the partisans in Le Marche.

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brigata_Maiella.svg

Last year, the historian Ruggero Giacomini found evidence in the archives of the Marche region that the song was probably first sung in the Marchigian area around Monte San Vicino and only from there, presumably by members of the brotherly Brigata Maiella, was carried to Abruzzo.

As evidence, he cites the Russian Lydia Stocks, who escaped from an internment camp near Macerata in 1943 and temporarily joined the partisans at Monte San Vicino. Giacomini found in the archives a letter she wrote shortly after the war to Amato Vittorio Tiraboschi, former commander of her Garibaldi Marche Brigade. In it she reminded of the Bella Ciao that was sung together at the time. And as early as 1945, the pastor of the nearby town of Poggio San Vicino, where the Germans carried out a terrible massacre, wrote that even the children were already singing Bella Ciao in the spring of 1944.

What is the beautiful flower mentioned in the Bella Ciao text?

In the United States, Britain and many parts of the world, the poppy is seen as a symbol of war dead, based on a poem by Canadian General McCrae that describes the poppies among the crosses and graves of the fallen of World War I in Flanders, one of the bloodiest battles of this war.

In Italy, this symbolism was not used at first. Until the singer Fabrizio di André released the anti-war song “La guerra di Piero” (The War of Piero) in 1966, which begins with the lines:

Dormi sepolto in un campo di grano
Non è la rosa, non è il tulipano
Che ti fan veglia dall’ombra dei fossi
Ma son mille papaveri rossi

in English:

Lying down buried in a field of rye

‘t’s neither the rose’s nor the tulip’s eye

Watching your sleep in the ditches’ ol’ bed

But it’s a thousand red poppies instead

Since then, the following applies in Italy: the poppy (Italian papavero) is the flower of the Partis.

Whatever historians discover about the origins of Bella Ciao, we will always think of Bella Ciao and the partisans of Monte San Vicino and the many victims of WWII when poppies are omnipresent in Marche in late spring.

Elke did a great job on researching the information from a number of articles, among others, which we would like to thank and mention here: Cronache-Ancona from April 6th, 2021, Il Resto del Carlino from April 7th, 2021, Discorsivo from April 25th, 2021 … and of course Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. ..


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