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Official website of the Spasskaya Tower International Military Music Festival
29 July 2020

Bella ciao

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‘Bella ciao’ (Goodbye, Beautiful) is an Italian folk song that originated in the late 19th century and gained its worldwide popularity in the 1940s. It became the anthem of the Italian Resistance Movement partisans fighting in the Modena Mountains (l’Appennino Modenese).

The fact that Bella ciao was sung by the Resistance partisans is well documented. But the song had a limited territorial outreach, fitting between the Bologna Appenines (l’Appennino Bolognese) and territories controlled by Montefiorino. As far as the story goes, it was there, in the Modena part of the Italian Appenines, that ‘Bella ciao’ found its new author — a brave Italian partisan. There isn’t much information about him, but he probably was a field doctor or paramedic.

‘Bella ciao’ lyrics bear a distinct resemblance to ‘Fior di tomba’ composition (A Flower on the Grave), another popular Italian folk song, as well as to several others, featuring ‘Il fiore di Teresina’ (Teresina’s Flower), ‘Il fiore di Rosina’ (Rosina’s Flower), ‘E picchia la porticella’ (The Door is Bumping and Bumping). Nowadays there are several versions of the song lyrics but the difference is little. For example, the word stamattina (today’s morning) may be replaced by the combination una mattina (once in the morning). As the song is written and performed in the first person singular, depending on the performer, the feminine and masculine forms are interchanged. As far as the melody is concerned, it might have been adopted from a very old children song called ‘The Sleepy Potion’ (also known as ‘The Dance of the Sleepy Potion).

Sources: Soviet Music («Советская музыка»), Military Álbum («Военный альбом») and «Победа.екатеринбург.рф» websites.