L'Italiano (The Italian one)

The song L’italiano was introduced in 1983 at the Sanremo songs festival, the most important and traditional music contest in Italy. Everybody was initially very appalled by its stereotypical depiction of the average Italian man: how could the author possibly celebrate such a mediocre, unfashionable self-perception?

As the dust settled, however, the ironic intent came through. The real message was that it is impossible to completely cut your ties with your past, no matter how well you dress up or try to act a smarter part. The easy, catchy melody also contributed to the worldwide success of this song – which remains an evergreen wherever Italian expats are. The reference to typical Italian food quirks are rather easy to catch: al dente is a way of cooking pasta keeping it firm, caffè ristretto is the ultra-concentrated espresso cup beloved by many Italians at breakfast, et cetera. The “partisan president” is Sandro Pertini, an incredibly energetic and honest president of the Republic who had actually fought in the partisan forces against Nazis during WWII, while the “600” was one of the most common compact cars of the Seventies, similar to a slightly larger version of the famous Fiat 500.

 

Italian lyrics

Lasciatemi cantare
con la chitarra in mano
lasciatemi cantare
sono un italiano

Buongiorno Italia gli spaghetti al dente
e un partigiano come Presidente
con l’autoradio sempre nella mano destra
e un canarino sopra la finestra

Buongiorno Italia con i tuoi artisti
con troppa America sui manifesti
con le canzoni con amore
con il cuore
con più donne sempre meno suore

Buongiorno Italia
buongiorno Maria
con gli occhi pieni di malinconia
buongiorno Dio
lo sai che ci sono anch’io

Lasciatemi cantare
con la chitarra in mano
lasciatemi cantare
una canzone piano piano
Lasciatemi cantare
perché ne sono fiero
sono un italiano
un italiano vero

Buongiorno Italia che non si spaventa
e con la crema da barba alla menta
con un vestito gessato sul blu
e la moviola la domenica in TV
Buongiorno Italia col caffè ristretto
le calze nuove nel primo cassetto
con la bandiera in tintoria
e una 600 giù di carrozzeria

Buongiorno Italia
buongiorno Maria
con gli occhi pieni di malinconia
buongiorno Dio
lo sai che ci sono anch’io

Lasciatemi cantare
con la chitarra in mano
lasciatemi cantare
una canzone piano piano
Lasciatemi cantare
perché ne sono fiero
sono un italiano
un italiano vero.

 

English translation

Allow me all to sing
with the guitar in hand
Allow me all to sing
I am an Italian

Good morning Italy spaghetti al dente
and a partisan as president
with the car stereo always in the right hand

and a canary on the window

Good morning Italy with your artists
with too much America on poster ads
with the songs with love
with the heart
with more women always less (religious) sisters

Good morning Italy
good morning Mary
with eyes filled with melancholy
good morning God
you know that I’m here as well

Allow me all to sing
with the guitar in hand
Allow me all to sing
one song slowly slowly
Allow me all to sing
because I am proud of it
I am an Italian
a true Italian

Good morning Italy that doesn’t get scared
and with the mint-scented shaving cream
with the suit that is pin-striped on blue
and the soccer highlights on Sunday on TV
Good morning Italy with short espresso

the new socks in the top drawer
with the flag at the dry cleaner’s
and a Fiat 600 with a down-looking body

Good morning Italy
good morning Mary
with eyes filled with melancholy
good morning God
you know that I’m here as well

Allow me all to sing
with the guitar in hand
Allow me all to sing
one song very gently
Allow me all to sing
because I am proud of it
I am an Italian
a true Italian