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HISTORY
‘Il Canto degli Italiani’: What the Italian national anthem means – and how to sing it
The Italian football team and its fans are known for belting out rousing renditions of the country’s national anthem before matches. But what exactly are they singing? Here’s how you can join in.
Published: 6 July 2021 15:53 CEST
Updated: 11 July 2021 10:35 CEST
Italy fans sing the national anthem before the EURO 2020 match between Italy and Austria on June 26th. Photo: Ben STANSALL/POOL/AFP
Il Canto degli Italiani (The Song of the Italians), is better known as Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) after its opening line, or Inno di Mameli (Mameli’s Hymn) after its lyricist.
Whatever they call it, Italians have been singing this anthem for almost 75 years after the post-war government picked it in October 1946 for the new Republic.
However, since they didn’t actually write it into law at the time, the song was only made Italy’s official national anthem four years ago.
READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Italy’s Unity Day
Usually only the first stanza is sung – twice – followed by the chorus.
All five stanzas of Mameli’s Hymn have been taught in schools since 2012, meaning most younger Italians at least will know the words.
Once you understand the lyrics you’ll see that it’s not the most lighthearted or family-friendly of songs, being almost entirely about war and death.
But at least it’s not as controversial as France’s La Marseillaise – and it has words, unlike Spain’s La Marcha Real.
So if you didn’t learn the Italian anthem at school, here’s a demonstration from the national team. The lyrics (for the short version) are translated below.
Fratelli d’Italia,
l’Italia s’è desta,
dell’elmo di Scipio s’è cinta la testa.
Dov’è la Vittoria? Le porga la chioma,
ché schiava di Roma, Iddio la creò.
Stringiamci a coorte,
siam pronti alla morte.
Siam pronti alla morte,
l’Italia chiamò.
Stringiamci a coorte,
siam pronti alla morte.
Siam pronti alla morte,
l’Italia chiamò! Sì!
In English:
Brothers of Italy,
Italy has awoken,
Bound Scipio’s helmet upon her head.
Where is Victory?Let her bow down,
For God has made her a slave of Rome.
Let us join in a cohort,
we are ready to die.
We are ready to die,
Italy has called.
Let us join in a cohort,
We are ready to die.
We are ready to die,
Italy has called! Yes!
The longer version is translated in this video:
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ITALIAN LANGUAGE
Ten of the best podcasts for learners of Italian
Listening to podcasts is a great way to immerse yourself in a new language. For everyone from beginners to advanced learners, here's a list of audio shows that will help improve your Italian.
Published: 12 May 2022 17:01 CEST
Updated: 15 May 2022 06:52 CEST
For beginners to intermediate learners:
In 2022, there’s a vast range of podcasts for people wanting to learn Italian from scratch – here we’ve selected just a few.
Since beginners will often struggle to understand even slow Italian, all these podcasts come with a paid subscription tier that provides access to transcripts and other accompanying materials.
That said, you don’t need to pay anything to simply listen to any of these shows. Give them a try, and see what you can pick up for free.
Coffee Break Italian
The creators of this show are on to a winning format: stop native speakers of a language in the street to ask them questions on a given theme; slowly repeat their answers and translate them into English; replay the interviews so the listener can fill in the gaps they missed the first time around.
It’s a simple but highly effective technique, allowing learners to acquaint themselves with the language as spoken by real Italians while giving them the tools they need to extract meaning from strong accents and colloquial turns of phrase.
News in Slow Italian
This podcast does exactly as advertised: gives you the week’s major international news in a (very) slow Italian.
READ ALSO: Ten of the best TV shows and films to help you learn Italian
It’s good for keeping up with current events as well as learning the language. One particularly useful function of the paid tier is that it allows you to hover over certain phrases in the transcript and see the English translation.
Italiano Automatico
Alberto Arrighini has taken his highly popular Youtube channel, Impara l’Italiano con Italiano Automatico, and made each episode available to listen to via the Italiano Automatico podcast.
While those who opt to listen via the podcast will miss out on the captions and slides Arrighini provides in his Youtube videos, it’s ideal for busy listeners who want to learn on the go. 
Each episode is roughly 10 minutes long and tackles different aspects of Italian such as regional accents, conjunctions, and answers to questions like when to use essere vs stare.
Which podcasts can help you learn Italian? Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.
Quattro Stagioni
This bite-sized podcast from Alessandra Pasqui takes the form of five-minute long episodes covering everything from recipes to travel diaries from Italian cities to biographies of famous Italians.
The programme’s short length makes it perfect listening for walks to the shops or when waiting in line at the post office.
Simple Italian
Simone Pols hosts this programme for intermediate Italian speakers. It’s another basic set up: Pols takes as his starting point a theme or a recent experience and spends around 20 minutes taking about it in slowed-down Italian.
READ ALSO: Seven songs that will help you learn Italian
Recent episodes including his musings on include why it’s important to say no, the definition of beauty, and what he learned from spending six weeks in Palermo.
For advanced learners: 
These podcasts were made for native Italian speakers, but you don’t need to be one yourself to enjoy them.
Practically non-existent until just a few years ago, the Italian podcasting industry has flourished in recent years. Whether you’re into true crime, long-form narrative journalism or science, these days there’s something for everyone.
Here are just a few well-known Italian podcasts for advanced speakers wondering where to start.
Veleno
This 2017 podcast is often referred to as ‘Italy’s Serial’, both for its in-depth investigative journalism and the fact that it’s credited with introducing large swathes of the population to the concept of podcasts altogether.
The story centres around a Satanic Panic that gripped the Bassa Modenese territory in the late 1990’s, leaving huge destruction and grief in its wake.
READ ALSO: The top five free smartphone apps for learning Italian
It’s an impressive piece of longform narrative journalism that makes for uncomfortable listening in some parts and will make you burn with righteous indignation in others.
Radiografia Nera
The Radio Popolare news station didn’t exist before 1976: but what if it had? 
That’s the starting point for this podcast from Tommaso Bertelli e Matteo Liuzzi, who in each episode recount a different crime that took place in post-war Milan up until the year the station was founded, sourcing most of their facts from archived court documents and police reports.
You’ll hear plenty of stories about bank robberies and stick-up jobs, but also learn of broader historical crimes such as attempted coups.
The hosts have a rapid-fire style of delivery, so Italian learners may want to slow the podcast down or go back and listen more than once to fully grasp the whole story – but it’s good practice if you want to challenge yourself.
XXX. Photo by Siddharth Bhogra on Unsplash.
Limoni
L’Internazionale​‘s Annalisa Camilli has won awards for her in-depth reporting on migration to Italy, but there’s one story from her past that she always kept at arm’s length – until now.
In Limoni, which was released to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the G8 protests in Genoa, Camilli looks back at what happened at the 2001 event in which hundreds of protestors were injured and over forty unarmed people were set upon and tortured by police as they prepared to go to bed.
Camilli, who attended the protests as a young person, examines the events in light of information that has come out in the years since, bringing a new clarity to what happened and why things went so badly wrong.
Il gorilla ce l’ha piccolo
Despite its irreverent name (which translates roughly as ‘Gorillas have small d**ks’), this animal-focused podcast contains a genuine treasure trove of information about the animal kingdom.
Presented by the biologist Vincenzo Venuto, each episode takes a broad relational theme, such as families or cheating, and examines how these things play out among various animal species. In looking at how animals handle aspects of sex, birth, ageing, death and grief, Venuto gives us a greater insight into our own species.
Problemi
From Jonathan Zenti, creator of the excellent (sadly only three-episode-long) English language podcast Meat, comes Problemi. In each episode Zenti talks about something he has a problem with, helped along by interjections from one of his own voice-altered alter egos.
In other hands, this might sound like a relatively dull basis for a podcast, but not in these ones. Zenti’s persona as a host is prickly and impious, but equally capable of deep compassion. His lack of interest in self-censorship and sometimes uncomfortably frank disclosures can make this mostly humorous show surprisingly painful at certain moments. It’s one of the few I’ll sometimes return to.
Do you have any recommendations for an Italian podcast we haven’t mentioned here? If so, please email us with your suggestion.
Elaine Allaby
news@thelocal.it
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