What are the lyrics to the Italian National Anthem – and what do they mean?

1 February 2019, 15:31 | Updated: 1 February 2019, 15:35

Italian National Anthem
‘Il Canto degli Italiani’, better known as ‘Fratelli d'Italia’, is Italy's national anthem. Picture: Getty Images

By Sofia Rizzi

Inspired by brotherhood and a whole lot of patriotism, ‘Fratelli d'Italia’ and its fanfare cheer is instantly recognisable as Italy’s boisterous national anthem.

Italy’s national anthem goes by many names – ‘Il Canto degli Italiani’, ‘Inno di Mameli’, or ‘Fratelli d'Italia’ from the song’s opening line.

The lyrics were written in 1847 by 20-year-old student Goffredo Mameli. Two months later they were set to music by Michele Novaro.

The song became popular during the time of the Risorgimento in Italy, but after Italy’s Unification in 1861, the national anthem was changed to ‘Marcia Reale’ (Royal March).

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After the Second World War Italy became a republic, and ‘Il Canto degli Italiani’ once again became Italy’s adopted national anthem.

Technically, it was only officially made the national anthem of Italy in December 2017, 170 years after its composition.

Italian National Anthem
The Italian National Anthem is sung at their sporting events. Picture: Getty Images

What are the lyrics to Il Canto degli Italiani?

1. 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.

Chorus:
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!

2. Noi fummo da secoli
Calpesti, derisi,
Perché non siam popolo,
Perché siam divisi.
Raccolgaci un'unica
Bandiera, una speme;
Di fonderci insieme
Già l'ora suonò.

3. Uniamoci, amiamoci;
L'unione e l'amore
Rivelano ai popoli
Le vie del Signore.
Giuriamo far libero
Il suolo natio:
Uniti, per Dio,
Chi vincer ci può?

4. Dall'Alpi a Sicilia,
Dovunque è Legnano;
Ogn'uom di Ferruccio
Ha il core e la mano;
I bimbi d'Italia
Si chiaman Balilla;
Il suon d'ogni squilla
I Vespri suonò.

5. Son giunchi che piegano
Le spade vendute;
Già l'Aquila d'Austria
Le penne ha perdute.
Il sangue d'Italia
E il sangue Polacco
Bevé, col Cosacco,
Ma il cor le bruciò.

English translation

1. Brothers of Italy,
Italy has awakened;
Scipio's helmet
she has put on her head.
Where is the Victory?
Offer her the hair;
because slave of Rome
God created her.

Chorus:
Let us unite!
We are ready to die;
Italy called.

2. We have been for centuries
stamped on, and laughed at,
because we are not one people,
because we are divided.
Let's unite under
one flag, one dream;
To melt together
Already the time has come.

3. Let's unite, let's love;
The union and the love
Reveal to the people
God's ways.
We swear to liberate
the native soil:
United, for God,
Who can beat us?

4. From the Alps to Sicily,
Everywhere is Legnano;
Every man of Ferruccio
has the heart and the hand;
the children of Italy
are called Balilla;
The sound of every church bell
calling for evening prayers.

5. They are branches that bend
the sold swords;
Already the eagle of Austria
has lost its feathers.
the blood of Italy
and the Polish blood
Drank with Cossacks
But its heart was burnt.