“Bella Ciao”, the resistance, April 25th: beliefs and versions

“Bella Ciao”, the resistance, April 25th: beliefs and versions

At a certain point it was even the great Giorgio Bocca, a formidable journalist and former partisan, who intervened in the debate on “Bella Ciao”, on which two controversies had been intersecting for a long time. What Bocca spoke about concerned the veracity of the essence of the piece as a partisan song:

“In the twenty months of the partisan war I never heard 'Bella ciao' sung, it was an invention of the Spoleto Festival.”

The song-symbol of Liberation and Resistance, soundtrack of the April 25th celebration, would therefore be a popular and struggle song but, according not only to Bocca, today it seems more likely that it began to be sung after the Second World War , always in partisan environments.

The other controversy concerns the presumed origin of “Bella Ciao” ​​as a weeders' song. In this case it is the historian Cesare Bermani who denies it, specifying that the song of the rice weeders was the work of Vasco Scansani while the partisan “Bella Ciao” was something else and had another origin (here is the concise reconstruction proposed by Wikipedia).

In the disc that documents the show staged at the Spoleto Festival in 1964 by the Nuovo Canzoniere Italiano you can listen to the two versions of “Bella ciao”: the “delle ordinine” and the “partigiana” one.

The song is periodically at the center of controversy – and a new book was recently released that tells its history and diffusion: “Bella ciao. A song, a show, a record”, by Jacopo Tomatis.

In recalling some of the most famous versions, we start from that of Milva, who recorded two versions of it in 1965 ('partigiana' and 'mondina') and who found herself famous again for one of her interpretations when last year her version was included in the Iranian film “There is no evil”, winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival (even in Iran the song has been a protest anthem for years).

The international fame of the song, however, can be traced back to Ivo Livi, better known as Yves Montand, a French actor by profession but Tuscan by birth, who performed it in public for the first time outside Italy in 1964. In 2012, a his illustrious fellow citizen – Francois Hollande – used an adaptation of it during his presidential campaign and, again to remain in political territory, it was also used in Turkey in 2013 in street demonstrations against the Erdogan government.

The person who makes it a staple in his concerts is the Bosnian Goran Bregovic:

Another regular performer of his is also Manu Chao:

But, if the version you didn't expect to hear could be that of Tom Waits and Marc Ribot, who included “Bella Ciao” in “Songs of resistance 1942-2018”, the guitarist's album

the international popularity of the song owes a lot to Netflix, having made a splash on TV with his version of Manu Pilas in “La Casa de Papel”:

Among the most recent versions, that of Francesco Guccini

A curiosity: recently, at a press conference of the recent Sanremo Festival, a fragment of the song was sung by Amadeus and Marco Mengoni