Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest
|National selection events|
|Best result||1st: 1964, 1990|
|Italy official website RAI for ESC|
|Italy's page at Eurovision.tv|
| For the most recent participation see|
Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest 2021
Italy has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 45 times since making its debut at the first contest in 1956. It was one of the seven countries that competed at the first contest. Italy competed at the contest frequently until 1997. After a 14-year absence, the country returned to the contest in 2011. Italy has won the contest twice.
In 1958, Domenico Modugno finished third with the song "Nel blu, dipinto di blu". Renamed "Volare", the song became a huge international hit, reaching the US number one spot and winning two Grammy Awards at its first edition. Emilio Pericoli also finished third in 1963, before Italy won for the first time in 1964 with Gigliola Cinquetti and "Non ho l'età". Cinquetti returned to the contest in 1974 and finished second with the song "Si", losing to ABBA. Italy then finished third in 1975 with Wess and Dori Ghezzi and the song "Era". The country's best result of the 1980s was Umberto Tozzi and Raf finishing third in 1987. Italy's second victory in the contest came in 1990 with Toto Cutugno and the song "Insieme: 1992". Other good 1990s results were Mia Martini in 1992 and Jalisse in 1997, who both finished fourth. After 1997, Italy withdrew from the competition.
On 31 December 2010, the EBU announced that Italy would be returning to the contest as part of the "Big Five", meaning that it automatically qualified for the final. Italy's return to the contest has proved to be successful, finishing in the top ten in seven of the last nine contests (2011–19), including second places for Raphael Gualazzi (2011) and Mahmood (2019), and Il Volo finishing third in 2015. Il Volo won the televoting, receiving votes from all countries, but the juries placed them sixth. Since the introduction of the 50/50 voting system in 2009, this was the first time that the winner of the viewers vote did not win the contest.
Italy has withdrawn from the Eurovision Song Contest a number of times. The first withdrawal was in 1981, when RAI stated that interest had diminished in the country. This absence continued through the following year, before Italy returned in 1983. Italy again withdrew in 1986 when RAI decided not to enter the contest. From 1994 to 1996 Italy withdrew again, with RAI citing a lack of interest in participating. Italy returned in 1997, before withdrawing again without explanation, and the country did not participate again until 2011.
None of the Eurovision winning songs were particularly successful in the Italian charts. "Non ho l'eta" by Gigliola Cinquetti (Grand Prix 1964) was a hit in February 1964 when the song won the Sanremo festival, but according to the official "Hit Parade Italia" website, "Waterloo", "Ding-A-Dong", "Puppet on a String", "Save Your Kisses for Me" and even Italy's own winning entry of 1990, "Insieme: 1992", all failed to enter the top ten of the records sales charts. A notable exception to this rule was, however, the 1984 entry "I treni di Tozeur" by Alice and Franco Battiato which shared 5th position in the final but still became a #3 hit in Italy and was also placed at #20 on the chart of the best-selling singles in Italy of 1984.
TV censorship of the Eurovision Song Contest 1974
Italy refused to broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest 1974 on RAI because of a song sung by Gigliola Cinquetti which coincided with the intense political campaigning for the 1974 Italian referendum on divorce which was held a month later in May. Despite the Eurovision contest's taking place more than a month before the planned vote, Italian censors refused to allow the contest and song to be shown or heard. RAI censors felt that the song, which was titled "Sì" (Yes), and which contained lyrics constantly repeating the aforementioned word could be accused of being subliminal messaging and a form of propaganda to influence the Italian voting public to vote 'yes' in the referendum ('yes' to repeal the law that allowed divorce). The song thus remained censored on most Italian state TV and radio stations for over a month. At the contest in Brighton, Cinquetti finished second, losing to ABBA. "Sì" went on to be a UK top ten hit, peaking at number eight. It also reached the German top 20.
A new interest?
However, in 2008 two noted Italian musicians, Vince Tempera (who was the conductor for Malta in 1975 and had helped San Marino take part in the ESC in 2008) and Eurovision winner Toto Cutugno expressed their sorrow at Italy's non-participation and called for the country to return to the contest.
Contestants from the 2008 contest, starting with the winner Dima Bilan appeared on the Italian show Carramba! Che fortuna, hosted by Raffaella Carrà on Rai Uno. Whether this was an initiative by Carrà (who presented three shows in TVE concerning the event) to try to bring Eurovision back to Italy is not clear, but Sietse Bakker, Manager Communications & PR of the Eurovision Song Contest, reiterated that "Italy is still very much welcome to take part in the competition."
Shortly after revealing the list of participants for the 2009 Contest the EBU announced that, for the 2010 Contest, they would work harder to bring Italy back into the contest, along with former participants Monaco and Austria.
Successful return to the contest
At a press conference presenting the fourth edition of the Italian X Factor, Rai 2 director Massimo Liofredi announced that the winner of the competition might advance to represent Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest, rather than participate in the Sanremo Festival, as in previous years. On 2 December 2010, it was officially announced by the Eurovision Song Contest official website that Italy had applied to compete in the 2011 Contest. Their participation was further confirmed on 31 December with the announcement of the official participant list.
Italy's return to the contest after a 14-year absence has been successful, finishing in the top ten in seven of the last nine contests (2011–19). In 2011, Raphael Gualazzi finished second, Italy's best result since 1990. Italy actually came first with the jury vote, but only 11th in the televote to place second overall behind winners Azerbaijan. Nina Zilli in 2012 and Marco Mengoni in 2013 were able to achieve a top 10 position (9th and 7th respectively); the latter, gathered 126 points, exactly doubling the sum of the other Big. This trend had a stop when Emma Marrone, selected internally, ended in 21st place, worst position ever of an Italian entry. In 2015, winners of Sanremo Il Volo finished third with 292 points, behind Sweden and Russia. Italy placed first in the televote with 366 points, but sixth in the jury vote. Since the introduction of the 50/50 split vote voting system, this was the first time that the winner of the televote did not win the contest. Francesca Michielin, selected among competitors of 2016 Sanremo Festival after the waiver of the winners Stadio, ended in 16th place. Francesco Gabbani, a fan favourite with "Occidentali's Karma", earned a 6th place in 2017. The year after, although not initially a big favourite with the bookies, Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro returned Italy to the top 5 with "Non mi avete fatto niente" aided significantly by finishing third in the televote which heavily counterbalanced the 17th place of the jury, finishing fifth overall. In 2019 Mahmood placed second with 465 points, Italy's best result since 2011.
The video for "Occidentali's Karma" by Francesco Gabbani has become the first Eurovision song to reach more than 200 million views on YouTube, while "Soldi" by Mahmood is the most-streamed Eurovision song on Spotify.
Italy's return and the "Big Five"
Since 2000, four countries - the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain - have automatically qualified for the final of the Contest regardless of their positions on the scoreboard in previous contests. They earned this status by being the four biggest financial contributors to the EBU. Owing to their untouchable status in the Contest, these countries became known as the "Big Four". Executive Supervisor of the Contest Svante Stockselius told reporters in a meeting with OGAE Serbia that, if Italy were to return to the contest in the future, the country would also qualify automatically for the finals, becoming part of a "Big Five". However, with the official announcement of the return of Italy, it was not confirmed whether the country would compete in one of the two semi-finals or whether it would be part of the "Big Five", as RAI, third largest contributor to the EBU, had not applied to be a member of "Big Five". On December 31, it was announced that Italy would take part in of the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 and confirmed that the country would thereby automatically qualify for the final in Germany as part of the "Big Five".
|Entry selected but did not compete|
Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest
|Artist||Language||Title||At Congratulations||At Eurovision|
|Domenico Modugno||Italian||"Nel blu, dipinto di blu"||2||267||2||200||1958||3||13|
|1965||Naples||Auditorium RAI||Renata Mauro|
|1991||Rome||Teatro 15 di Cinecittà||Gigliola Cinquetti and Toto Cutugno|
Marcel Bezençon Awards
|2015||Press Award||"Grande amore"||Il Volo||3||292||Vienna|
|2017||Press Award||"Occidentali's Karma"||Francesco Gabbani||6||334||Kyiv|
|2019||Composer Award||"Soldi"||Mahmood||2||465||Tel Aviv|
Winner by OGAE members
|2015||"Grande amore"||Il Volo||3||292||Vienna|
|2017||"Occidentali's Karma"||Francesco Gabbani||6||334||Kyiv|
Heads of delegation
|Year||Head of delegation||Ref.|
Commentators and spokespersons
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|Year||Final commentator||Semi-final commentator||Spokesperson||Ref.|
|1956||Bianca Maria Piccinino||No semi-finals||No spokesperson|
|1974||Rosanna Vaudetti||Anna Maria Gambineri|
|1980||Michele Gammino||Mariolina Cannuli|
|1981–1982||No broadcast||Did not participate|
|1983||Paolo Frajese||No semi-finals||Paola Perissi|
|1984||Antonio De Robertis||Mariolina Cannuli|
|1985||Rosanna Vaudetti||Beatrice Cori|
|1986||No broadcast||Did not participate|
|1987||Rosanna Vaudetti||No semi-finals||Mariolina Cannuli|
|1989||Gabriella Carlucci||Peppi Franzelin|
|1990||Peppi Franzelin||Paolo Frajese|
|1991||No commentator||Rosanna Vaudetti|
|1992||Peppi Franzelin||Nicoletta Orsomando|
|1993||Ettore Andenna||Ettore Andenna||Peppi Franzelin|
|1994–1996||No broadcast||Did not participate|
|1997||Ettore Andenna||No semi-finals||Peppi Franzelin|
|1998–2002||No broadcast||Did not participate|
|2003||Fabio Canino and Paolo Quilici||No semi-finals|
|2011||Raffaella Carrà and Bob Sinclar||Raffaella Carrà||Raffaella Carrà|
|2012||Filippo Solibello and Marco Ardemagni||Federica Gentile||Ivan Bacchi|
|2013||Filippo Solibello, Marco Ardemagni and Natasha Lusenti||Federica Gentile|
|2014||Linus and Nicola Savino||Marco Ardemagni and Filippo Solibello||Linus|
|2015||Federico Russo and Valentina Correani (TV)
Marco Ardemagni and Filippo Solibello (Radio)
|2016||Flavio Insinna and Federico Russo||Claudia Andreatti|
|2017||Andrea Delogu and Diego Passoni||Giulia Valentina|
|2018||Serena Rossi and Federico Russo (TV)
Carolina Di Domenico and Ema Stokholma (Radio)
|Carolina Di Domenico and Saverio Raimondo|
|2019||Flavio Insinna and Federico Russo (TV)
Ema Stokholma and Gino Castaldo (Radio)
|Federico Russo and Ema Stokholma||Ema Stokholma|
|Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light||Flavio Insinna, Federico Russo||Rai 1|
|Gino Castaldo, Ema Stockholma||Rai 4
Rai Radio 2
- Italy in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest – Junior version of the Eurovision Song Contest.
- Italy in the Eurovision Young Dancers – A competition organised by the EBU for younger dancers aged between 16 and 21.
- Italy in the Eurovision Young Musicians – A competition organised by the EBU for musicians aged 18 years and younger.
Notes and references
- Bakker, Sietse (2010-12-31). "43 nations on 2011 participants list". Eurovision.tv. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
- "History - Eurovision Song Contest 1981". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
- Hit Parade Italia, chart entry "I Treni di Tozeur"
- Kasapoglou, Yiorgos (7 March 2008). "Italy: Maestro Tempera calls Italy back to Eurovision". ESCToday. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
- Bakker, Sietse (16 June 2008). "Cutugno: "Italy's absence unfortunate"". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
- Hondal, Víctor (19 September 2008). "Italy: Eurovision stars guests on Rai Uno". ESCToday. Retrieved 20 September 2008.
- Siim, Jarmo (17 September 2008). "Eurovision stars going to Italy!". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 20 September 2008.
- floras, stella (13 January 2009). "EBU working for Eurovision full house in 2010". ESCTodayaccessdate=30 July 2009.
- Bakker, Sietse (2 December 2010). "Italy applied for 2011 Eurovision Song Contest!". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
- "Occidentali's Karma hits 200 million views on Youtube!". escxtra.com. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- "Italy: Mahmood's "Soldi" is now the most-streamed Eurovision song on Spotify". Wiwibloggs. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- O'Connor, John Kennedy (2005). The Eurovision Song Contest 50 Years The Official History. London: Carlton Books Limited. ISBN 1-84442-586-X.
- "Svante Stockselius meets members of OGAE Serbia". Oikotimes. 2007-06-22. Archived from the original on 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
- Fulton, Rick (2007-05-14). "The East V West Song Contest". Daily Record. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
- "Italy made no motion for Big 5 membership yet". Oikotimes. 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2010-12-03.[permanent dead link]
- "Winners of the Marcel Bezençon Awards 2015". eurovision.tv. 25 May 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
- "Winners of the Marcel Bezençon Awards 2017". eurovision.tv. 14 May 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
- "Here are the winners of the 2019 Marcel Bezençon Awards". eurovision.tv. 18 May 2019. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
- Cobb, Ryan (21 April 2017). "Analysing ten years of OGAE voting: "Underneath the fan favourite bias is a worthwhile indicator"". escxtra.com. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
- Gallagher, Robyn (30 April 2017). "OGAE Poll 2017 final results: Italy confirmed as winner, Belgium second, Sweden third". Wiwibloggs. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
- Herbert, Emily (30 April 2019). "Eurovision 2019: Italy Wins OGAE Poll 2019". eurovoix.com. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
- Granger, Anthony (10 November 2019). "Italy: Nicola Caligiore to Step Down as Head of Delegation". eurovoix.com. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
- Granger, Anthony (14 May 2020). "Italy:Simona Martorelli Named as New Head of Delegation". Eurovoix. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
- "Enrico Ruggeri Sole d'Europa Eurofestival 1993". youtube.com. 26 October 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
- "Natascha Lusenti affiancherà Ardemagni-Solibello nel commento all'Eurovision 2013" (in Italian). Eurofestival.ws. 5 April 2013. Archived from the original on 19 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- Gordon Roxburgh (18 May 2013). "Good evening Malmö - Voting order revealed". Eurovision.tv. European Broadcasting Union. Archived from the original on 19 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- https://www.rai.it/dl/doc/1557818030923_RDTV_13maggio_down.pdf (pagina 14)
- "Eurovision, Europe Shine a Light: il 16 maggio alle 20.35 su Rai1, Radio2 e RaiPlay" [Eurovision, Europe Shine a Light: on 16 May at 20:35 on Rai1, Radio2 and RaiPlay]. eurofestivalnews.com. 10 April 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.