It’s the final week in our FREE Summer Series of thirty articles (with online audio) covering the period from the Risorgimento to the end of WWII.
1943, and Italy is on its way to being divided in two, with the invading/liberating Americans and Brits making progress in the south, and the Germans easily holding the north.
Our writer doesn’t mention it (she’s Italian…), but the battles on the Italian peninsula were, as described on the British National Army Museum website, ‘one of the war’s most exhausting campaigns’.
Of far more interest to generations of Italian school children, and propagandists, were the various heroic escapades carried out by Italian civilians, keen to be shot of (rather than by) the Germans and get on to the glory ‘boom’ years of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Today’s article covers the famous (for Italians – I’m ashamed to say my schooling was biased too, just the other way…) ‘Quattro giornate di Napoli’. If you don’t know what they were, read/listen to today’s article to find out!
Also mentioned were the famous ‘partigiani’, partisans/resistance fighters, who did their best to make life difficult and dangerous for the German forces in the north. In post-war Italy, former partisans got all the glory, and there are still marches each year to celebrate their efforts, and associations promoting their memory.
More or less every student of Italian will, sooner rather than later, hear the famous song ‘Bella ciao’, a wistful ballad with a catchy beat, and not too complicated for beginners. Few Italian teachers, who tend to be a bunch of lefties, can resist including it in their lessons.
If you’ve not (yet) come across it, the song tells of an archetypal youth who abandons his occupied northern city to become a fighter up in the Appennini, the mountain range that forms Italy’s spine. Hope he remembered to pack warm socks…
A Youtube version is linked to at the bottom of Episode 29 of the Summer Series, or click this link to go right there: https://youtu.be/Lqs2oIBFPxI?si=9NEZ1h5FcP8xQONO The text on the screen is Italian, but if you scroll down to the ‘More’ section, you’ll find English lyrics. It’s a terrible translation, though, and full of typos, so maybe best stick with the Italian, from which the title of today’s article is taken:
“Mi seppellirai, lassù in montagna, sotto l’ombra di un bel fior”
You’ll bury me, up there in the mountains, in the shade of a pretty flower.
Note the differences. Italians speaking English always say that they took their summer break ‘in the mountain’, which sounds like cave-dwelling to me, but is a ‘transfer error’ caused by the way the two languages work.
Ditto with ‘in the shade’, usually mis-said in English as ‘under the shade’. ‘Under the rain’ and ‘under the sun’ are common, too. Now you know why – because it’s ‘sotto’ in italiano.
Here’s a bit more, from the start of the song, for context:
“Una mattina, mi son svegliato… e ho trovato l’invasor”
A couple of interesting grammatical differences there too, as you’ll find, it you translate it.
I think we can assume that the singer is referring to the beastly Germans, rather than the liberating allies, but do read/listen to today’s article to find out more. This one is the penultimate in the series, which ends on Friday, though all the episodes from this one, and the previous three series, will remain on our History page until they bury me – at some point – under the shade of a pretty flower, up in the mountain.
(The previous twenty-eight episodes in this series can be found on our History page, along with the ninety Summer Series articles from previous years. Scroll right down to the end to find the latest ones.)
P.S. Half-price eBook of the Week: Roma città aperta
The ebook works well on its own, as practice reading and listening material. Better still if you combine it with our FREE Summer Series of articles with audio, which is covering the exact same period this week.
But why limit yourself to text + audio when you could watch the movie itself, also for FREE?
You’ll find several versions on Youtube but I’ve selected one for you, one which was restored by Bologna’s Cineteca, so a local connection.
Here’s the link to that: Roma città aperta (1945)
N.b. Unless your Italian is really good, I’d obviously suggest doing the ebook first, then watching the movie afterwards. Given that there are no subtitles, it helps!
This moving masterpiece of Italian neo-realism, set in WW2 Rome, tells the story of how resistance leader Giorgio, along with his friends, neighbours and family members, fight the Nazi forces occupying their city.
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at B1 level and above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally immediately after your payment), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook, where available, cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them. There’s a space to do that on the order form – where it says Additional information, Order notes (optional). If you forget, or if you have problems downloading the .pdf, don’t worry! Email us at the address on the website and we’ll help. Also, why not check out our FAQ?
Did you read/listen to Tuesday’s FREE bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news?
There’ll be another bulletin tomorrow (Thursday), so better get it done today!
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