Alpini songs

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The traditional hat of the Alpini with the black feather

The Alpini are a mountain infantry corps of the Italian Army, that distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II. In addition they are also famous in Italy for their songs and choirs.

The first Alpini units were formed in 1872 recruiting it soldiers among the inhabitants of the valleys of Italy’s northern mountain regions. During World War I the Alpinis saw heavy combat all over the alpine arch. The war has become known as the "War in snow and ice", as most of the 600 km frontline ran through the highest mountains and glaciers of the Alps and every position was occupied around the whole year. It was during these years that the Alpini, their spirit and their mules became legend, although at the cost of over 12,000 deaths out of a total of 40,000 mobilized Alpinis.

During this time many songs originated within the Alpini corps that tell of the hardships and brutality of this conflict. After World War I former members (called: "Veci") founded choirs in their hometowns and offered thus the Italian people a glimpse into the hardships of the "War in Snow and Ice".

Some of the most famous and well known Alpini songs are:

  • Aprite le Porte
An upbeat choral calling on people to open their doors and have look at a column of advancing Alpini.
This song begins by telling the difference between the single, long black feather which distinguishes the Alpini's cap from the Bersaglieri, who have a lot of smaller feathers on their cap. It goes on to tell why being an Alpino is harder than any other soldier's job, and says that the Alpini don't fear death because they die among the flowers of the Alps.
  • Cosa Fai, Mio Bel Gin Gin
This song tells the story of a wife, who awaits the return of her husband, but is told by retreating Alpini, that her wait is in vain.
  • Di qua, di là del Piave
A song about a beautiful girl.
  • E Cadorna Manda A Dire
General Cadorna calls on the Alpini to advance and guard the frontier; alas they know they are on their way to guard the frontier for eternity.
  • Era Una Notte Che Pioveva
A single soldier stands guard in the middle of a snowstorm on a mountain summit, dreaming of his beloved at home.
  • Il Testamento Del Capitano
The Captain of a Company is mortally wounded and asks to see the rest of his Alpini a last time; they come, even though they have no shoes to walk. He asks them to cut his heart into five pieces: one for his homeland Italy, one for the battalion, one for his mother, one for his love and the last one for the mountains, which will surround it with roses and flowers.
  • La Montanara
A song about the beauty of the Alps, very famous and often considered as the hymn of the Alps.
  • La Si Taglia I Biondi Capelli
A young girl cut off her blonde hair to enlist in the army and thus able to follow her first love to the front on the Piave river.
  • La Tradotta
“The railway that begins in Turin, doesn’t stop in Milan anymore, but goes directly to the Piave - cemetery of youth.
In 29 we left home, only in 7 we returned, the other 22 all died in San Dona.
Dear nun, I’m wounded, tomorrow I won’t see, my mother will not come; put a flower on my grave.
A cross is in Nervesa, my brother is buried there, I wrote Ninetto on it, and so mother might find him.”
  • La Valsugana
The dream of returning home.
  • Lassù in montagna
A inspirational song about that even when alone in the mountains all of Italy stands besides the Alpini.
  • Monte Canino
The Alpini arrive on the front after days of transport in railways wagons.
  • Monte Cauriol
The wind brings the news to a family that their son has died on Mountain “Cauriol”.
  • Monte Nero
The 3rd Alpini regiment is on its way to conquer Mount “Nero”, but the attacks ends in such a massacre, that the regiments Colonel sits amid his dead soldiers and weeps.
  • Monte Pasubio
A long column of Alpini is on the way to Mount “Pasubio”, a column of those that will never return, that go to die on Mount “Pasubio”. But the Alpinis are not afraid; they will not return/ turn around. (In Italian the used verb has this double meaning)
  • Quel Mazzolin Di Fiori
A young woman collects flowers she will bring to her love. [1]
Bridge of the Alpini
A prayer for a man who died in the mountains. It prays God to let him climb the mountains of Paradise - this famous song is a recent song (1958) written by Bepi de Marzi, an italian composer who wrote many songs drawing inspiration from popular tradition.
  • Stelutis Alpinis
In Friulian language. A dead soldier tells his beloved where he is buried: "up among the rocks" under a clearing full of Edelweisses. He tells her to come and pick one flower, and hold it when she prays for him, so he will still be with her.[1]
  • Sul Cappello Che Noi Portiamo
A hymn on the black feather that the Alpini carry on their hat.
  • Sul Ponte Di Bassano
On the famous "Bridge of the Alpini" in Bassano del Grappa the Alpini say goodbye to their loved ones, before departing to the nearby front.
  • Sul Ponte Di Perati
On the bridge of Perati a black flag of grief flies for the Alpinis of the Alpine Division Julia, who goes to war, goes under the earth.
  • Ta - Pum!
After 20 days on Mount Ortigara, the battalion descends and has no soldiers left; they are all in the cemetery by the river, where the battalions remaining soldiers will soon stop by too.

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