Bella Ciao
Culture Music

Bella Ciao, from the Resistance to Money Heist

Find out more about this iconic song. Where does it come from? And what does it mean?

The Netflix show brought Bella Ciao to the international song, but protesters all over the world have always sang it. To understand why, let’s take a look at the lyrics first.

What does Goodbye Beautiful mean?

Una mattina mi son svegliato,
oh bella, ciao!
Una mattina mi son svegliato
e ho trovato l’invasor.

O partigiano, portami via,
o bella, ciao!
Portami via,
ché mi sento di morir.

E se io muoio da partigiano.
E se io muoio da partigiano,
tu mi devi seppellir.

“One morning, I woke up and I found the enemy. Partisan, take me away. Take me away, I fell like dying. And if I die a partisan, you have to bury me.”

E seppellire lassù in montagna,
o bella, ciao!
E seppellire lassù in montagna
sotto l’ombra di un bel fior.

E le genti che passeranno
o bella, ciao!
E le genti che passeranno
Ti diranno «Che bel fior!»

«È questo il fiore del partigiano»,
«È questo il fiore del partigiano
morto per la libertà!»

“And bury me up there in the mountains, below the shade of a nice flower. People will walk by and say what a nice flower! This is the flower of the partisan, dead for freedom.”

Bella Ciao
Bouquet of Alpine flowers. Image via Pinterest.

The history behind the song

The origins of this song date back to World War II. The partisans were the Italian resistance, organized groups and not military. They were mostly fighting in the Alps, asking for help to locals villages and hiding in caves. These fighters believed in freedom. And they were facing an enemy that was just as fearless and strong: the Fascists.

With the song, the Partisans wanted to share universal beliefs and values. Values like freedom, opposition to dictatorships, and freedom -once again. Indeed, it was a success. Just like the partisans’ fight.

So much so that this anthem has become the anthem of worldwide protests.

Bella Ciao in the modern world

It started in Turkey with the 2013 protests, known as Gezi Park. Turkish were opposing the regime of Erdogan, taking their peaceful protests to the squares of Istanbul and the streets of Izmir. The young protestors slept in tents, created graffiti, and remembered the ones killed by the government. All this with Bella Ciao on the background.

The Italian anthem even reached Chile in 2019 at the scream “el pueblo unido jamas serà vencido.” Or, the unified population won’t ever be defeated. Another country, but same song of freedom. This time in India. Specifically in Punjabi during the protest of farmers. So, the song turned into something else. It took life of its own, with a 100% Indian version of the Italian anthem.

Indeed, Bella Ciao is still relevant today, just as it was over 70 years ago. It even reached Netflix and the popular show Money Heist. While the band of the Professor sang it, viewers all over the world rediscovered the Resistance song. And it doesn’t look it won’t away anytime soon.

(Not) Goodbye, beautiful.

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