What’s the story of “Bella ciao”

What’s the story of “Bella ciao”
What’s the story of “Bella ciao”

Last Friday a bill began the parliamentary process – signed by parliamentarians from PD, Italia Viva, M5S and LeU – to make the song partisan Hello beautiful the official hymn of the Liberation Day from Nazi-Fascism, which falls every 25 April. In the text presented, the parliamentarians motivate the proposal by referring to the “institutional character” of the song, representative of the “founding values ​​of the Republic”, but in these hours the right-wing parties of the center-right coalition – Fratelli d’Italia and Lega – have criticized harshly the proposal,

the parliamentarians who wanted it to be “disconnected from reality”.

In particular, the vice president of the Senate Ignazio La Russa, of the Brothers of Italy, said: “Hello beautiful, not because of the lyrics but because of the left, it has become a song that does not cover the taste of all Italians: it is too left-wing. It is not the song of the partisans, it is the song only of the communist partisans ». In reality, Beautiful Hello it has long been a pretty transversal song, as he also mentioned Old Concept on Republic taking as an example the Christian Democratic congress of 1976 – the one in which Benigno Zaccagnini was elected secretary – which ended with that song. Today there are translations of Hello beautiful in many languages ​​and has been played and sung in many different contexts, while remaining among the most traditional and beloved songs of the Italian leftist demonstrations and beyond.

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The story of Hello beautiful it has been investigated by many historians and historians, who have tried to reconstruct its origins and retrace its transformations. The genesis of the song, however, is still debated. For many years the hypothesis has been circulating that Hello beautiful descended from a popular song among the rice paddies in the thirties, but some studies have later established that songs of this type appeared for the first time in the rice fields from the fifties, that is, after the first attestations of the partisan song. Some argue that it simply derives from regional songs from central and northern Italy, and still others – such as the journalist Giampaolo Pansa – argue that in reality the partisans never sang it and that it became popular only after World War II.

But many recent research and publications have documented how Hello beautiful was widespread during the Resistance, although to a lesser extent than in The wind blows, another partisan song more politically connoted (“To conquer the red spring / Where the sun of the future rises”). The historian Stefano Privato, in his 2015 book Hello beautiful. Singing and politics in the history of Italy, writes that Hello beautiful it was widespread mainly in the areas of Reggio Emilia, in the upper Bologna area, in the Apuan Alps and in the surroundings of Rieti. Cesare Bermani, on the other hand, who is an expert in oral history, argues that the first to sing Hello beautiful it was the Abruzzo partisans of the Maiella Brigade, and they were the ones who took it north where it would also be adopted by the Tuscan and Emilian partisans.

The historical debate is still open, because a recent study by Ruggero Giacomini, a historian from the Marche region, tells how in the Macerata area a version of Hello beautiful – with a text slightly different from the one most widespread today – before the spring of 1944, when the Maiella Brigade entered the Marches, freeing various cities and helping the local Resistance.

The origin of the partisan song is therefore still uncertain, and the same can be said of its melody, even if many trace it back to a Jewish folk song (Yiddish) played by Mishka Ziganoff. However, it is not known how this round of chords by a Ukrainian naturalized American Roma musician became the basis of Hello beautiful.

Certainly during the twentieth century Hello beautiful it has gained increasing popularity, perhaps precisely because it was considered more universal than other communist partisan songs. Over the years, Milva, Manu Chao, Claudio Villa, Yves Montand, Woody Allen, Tom Waits have sung and played it. A new and even more widespread fame was brought to him by the Netflix series The paper house, in which it is used by the protagonist of the series – the “Professor” – as a kind of call to revolt. Following the series, which had a great success in many countries around the world, new versions and remixes of the song came out, including those by DJ Hardwell and Steve Aoki.

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Even before the Paper house, in any case, Hello beautiful it had become an international hymn to the struggle for freedom, and for this many adaptations and translations had already been made. It is used for example by the independentist Syrian Kurds, who fought against ISIS and who for decades have been fighting Turkey for independence, while in recent years – and even before the Paper house – was heard in international street demonstrations, from Turkey to Lebanon to Chile.

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