Italics Magazine’s Top 10 Italian Songs Of All Time

We run down our top 10 Italian songs for you to add to your playlists — from Italy, with love.

Andrea Bocelli Italian songs
Andrea Bocelli's concert at the Poznań Stadium, Poland. Jakub Janecki, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Whether you’re broadening your musical horizons or trying to cement your grasp of the language, great Italian pop songs are thankfully in abundance.

In no particular order, we run down Italics Magazine’s top 10 Italian songs:

Nel blu, dipinto di blu (Volare) – Domenico Mondugno, 1958

Easily among the most iconic Italian songs ever made, the languid tempo and easy vocals of Domenic Mondugno feels like walking down a cobblestone viale, arm-in-arm with your amore on a warm summer night. Such is its enduring popularity, it’s been covered by the likes of Dean Martin, the Gipsy Kings, and even David Bowie over the years.

‘O sole mio – Giovanni Capurro, Eduardo di Capua, and Alfredo Mazzucchi, 1898

The oldest song on the list at 125 years old, the Neapolitan ballad captures the romance of young, care-free love in the way only Italians can. Much like Volare, it has also been extensively covered, seeing versions in English by Bing Crosby and John Schneider.

Gloria – Umberto Tozzi, 1979

The longing call of “Gloriaaaa” by Umberto Tozzi was an effective hook to make this dance track a hit in the summer of ’79. It is probably better known to English-speaking audiences from the cover by Laura Branigan in 1982, reinventing it and singing it as a character study of Gloria herself.

Tu vuò fà l’americano – Renato Carosone, 1956

Another Neapolitan contribution to the list – Renato Carosone wrote the satirical song in post-war Italy, about an Italian who adopts American mannerisms (drinking whisky and soda, dancing to rock n’ roll, playing baseball) but remains dependent on his parents for money. It was effectively featured in The Talented Mr Ripley, and most recently exploded in popularity thanks to being sampled in 2010 by Yolanda Be Cool in the dance song We No Speak Americano.

Quando quando quando – Tony Renis, 1962

The dream-like bossa nova-style pop song features enough swelling violins and snappy hi-hat tapping to make anyone fall in love. This too has been covered in English many times, notably by Engelbert Humperdinck, Michael Bublé, and Pat Boone.

Prisencolinensinainciusol – Adriano Celentano, 1973

A stunning exercise in improvisational ‘freestyle’ lyrical flow entirely in gibberish, meant to replicate how American English sounds to those who don’t speak the language. The pounding drum beat, looped guitar riff, and sharp horn section sufficiently distracts you from the absurdity of the lyrics to make you want to get up and dance. It saw blips of popularity in popular culture in the 50 years since it was released, but most recently received worldwide attention thanks to extensive usage in episode three of the third season of Apple TV’s Ted Lasso.

Zitti e buoni – Maneskin, 2021

There was a time in the summer of 2021 when you couldn’t walk down the street or open Tiktok or Instagram without hearing the guitar riff from Zitti e buoni. The Sanremo and Eurovision darlings took the world by storm, and it became the most-streamed Italian song ever in one day on Spotify immediately after winning Eurovision.

Se telefonando – Mina, 1966

The soaring vocals of Mina in this melancholic love song would pull at the heartstrings of even the most stoic person (it was composed by musical powerhouse Ennio Morricone). It has been covered in French and English by Françoise Hardy, Neil Hannon, and many times by other Italian performers — most recently by Nek at Sanremo Music Festival 2015.

Con te partirò – Andrea Bocelli, 1995

Straddling the line between opera and pop, this is considered as Andrea Bocelli’s signature song. Unlike the other songs in this list, Con te partirò was not commercially successful in Italy, and seeing success elsewhere in Europe. In 1996 he could duet the song with Sarah Brightman as Time to Say Goodbye, sung both in Italian and English; and in 1997 he would rerecord the song in Spanish as Por ti volaré.

Ma il cielo è sempre più blu – Rino Gaetano, 1975

An upbeat piano plays, punctuated by a saxophone in parts, and Rino Gaetano’s raspy voice sings emotive lyrics painting a picture of inequalities in life, but reiterating the conclusion “ma il cielo è sempre più blu” (but the sky is always bluer) — meaning, the sky is the same for all. Despite his tragic passing in 1981 in a car crash, his song continues to have an impact in Italy, and was reinterpreted in 2020 by Italian supergroup Italian Allstars 4 Life, under the new title Ma il cielo è sempre blu (The sky is always bluer).