Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Member stationRAI
National selection events
National final
Internal selection
  • 1967–1975 (song)
  • 1976–1980
  • 1983–1985
  • 1987–1993
  • 2014
Participation summary
Host1965, 1991, 2022
First appearance1956
Highest placement1st: 1964, 1990, 2021
Nul points1966
External links
Official RAI website for ESC
Italy's page at
Song contest current event.png For the most recent participation see
Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022

Italy has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 47 times since making its debut at the first contest in 1956. It was one of the seven countries that competed at the first contest, which took inspiration from the Sanremo Music Festival.[1] Italy competed at the contest without interruption until 1980, discontinuing its participation on a number of occasions during the 1980s and 1990s. After a 13-year absence starting in 1998, the country returned to the contest in 2011. Italy has won the contest three times, along with an additional 15 top-five finishes. Italy hosted the contest in Naples (1965), Rome (1991) and Turin (2022).

In 1958, Domenico Modugno finished third with the song "Nel blu, dipinto di blu". Renamed "Volare", the song became a huge international hit, topping the US Billboard Hot 100 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 "", 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 European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced that Italy would be returning to the contest as part of the "Big Five", thereby granting the country automatic qualification for the final.[2] Italy's return to the contest has proved to be successful, finishing in the top ten in nine of the last eleven contests (2011–22), including second places for Raphael Gualazzi (2011) and Mahmood (2019), and third place for Il Volo (2015). Il Volo won the televote, receiving votes from all countries, but came sixth with the juries. This was the first time since the introduction of the mixed jury–televote system in 2009 that the televote winner did not end up winning the contest. Italy achieved its third victory at the contest in 2021, with the rock band Måneskin and the song "Zitti e buoni".



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.[3] This absence continued through 1982, before Italy returned in 1983. Italy again withdrew in 1986 when RAI decided not to enter the contest.[4] 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.[5]

None of the 20th century Eurovision-winning songs were particularly successful in the Italian charts. "Non ho l'età" by Gigliola Cinquetti was a hit in February 1964 when the song won the 1964 contest, 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 the 1984 entry "I treni di Tozeur" by Alice and Franco Battiato, which shared 5th place in the final, but still became a #3 hit in Italy and also placed at #20 on the chart of the best-selling Italian singles in 1984.

TV censorship of the 1974 contest[edit]

RAI refused to broadcast the 1974 contest because their competing song, sung by Gigliola Cinquetti, coincided with the intense political campaigning for the 1974 Italian divorce referendum which was to be held a month later in May. Despite the Eurovision Song Contest 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, titled "" (Yes), and contained lyrics constantly repeating the aforementioned word could be subject to accusation of being subliminal messaging and a form of propaganda to influence the Italian voting public to vote 'yes' in the referendum (thus to repeal the law that allowed divorce).[6] 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.[citation needed]

The 2008–2010 period[edit]

In 2008, two notable 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.[7][8]

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, then-Manager Communications & PR of the Eurovision Song Contest, reiterated that "Italy is still very much welcome to take part in the competition."[9][10]

Shortly after revealing the list of participants for the 2009 contest, the EBU announced that they would work harder to bring Italy back into the contest, along with former participants Monaco and Austria.[11]

Successful return (2011–present)[edit]

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 EBU that Italy had applied to compete in the 2011 contest.[12] Their participation was further confirmed on 31 December with the announcement of the official participant list.[2]

Italy's return to the contest after a 13-year absence has been successful, finishing in the top ten in nine of the last eleven contests (2011–22). In 2011, Raphael Gualazzi finished second, then Italy's best result since 1990. Italy came first with the jury vote, but only 11th in the televote to place second overall behind eventual winner Azerbaijan. Nina Zilli in 2012 and Marco Mengoni in 2013 placed in the top ten (ninth and seventh, respectively); the latter scored 126 points, exactly doubling the points total of the other "Big Five" countries that year. This trend had a stop in 2014, when internally-selected Emma Marrone finished in 21st place. In 2015, Il Volo finished third with 292 points, behind winner Sweden and runner-up Russia, placing first in the televote but sixth in the jury vote. Since the introduction of the 50/50 split voting system, this was the first time that the televote winner did not win the contest overall. Francesca Michielin, selected among the competitors of Sanremo 2016 after the waiver of the winners Stadio, ended in 16th place. Francesco Gabbani, a fan-favourite with "Occidentali's Karma", came in sixth place in 2017. The year after, although not initially a big favourite with the bookmakers, Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro returned Italy to the top five with "Non mi avete fatto niente", aided significantly by finishing third in the televote, which heavily counterbalanced the 17th place by the jury, finishing fifth overall. In 2019, Mahmood with "Soldi" placed second with 472 points, Italy's best result since 2011, until Måneskin with "Zitti e buoni" won the contest in 2021 with 524 points. Måneskin's victory marked the band's breakthrough on the international music scene. Mahmood returned in 2022 as the host entrant alongside Blanco, placing sixth with "Brividi".

Sanremo Music Festival[edit]

The Sanremo Music Festival is the most popular Italian song contest and awards ceremony, held annually in the city of Sanremo, Liguria. First held in 1951 and itself the basis and inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest, the festival has often been used as a method of choosing the Italian entry for the European contest, with some exceptions over the years. Since 2015, the winner of the festival has been given the right of first refusal to represent Italy in the contest.[1][13]

Italy and the "Big Five"[edit]

Since 1999, four countries – France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom – have automatically qualified for the Eurovision final regardless of their results in previous contests.[14] These countries earned this special status by being the four biggest financial contributors to the EBU, and subsequently became known as the "Big Four". In a meeting with OGAE Serbia in 2007, then-Executive Supervisor of the Contest Svante Stockselius stated that, if Italy were to return to the contest in the future, the country would also automatically qualify for the final, becoming part of a "Big Five".[15][16] 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 be part of the "Big Five", as RAI, third largest contributor to the EBU, had not applied for "Big Five" membership.[17] On 31 December 2010, it was announced that Italy would take part in the 2011 contest and confirmed that the country would automatically qualify for the final as part of the "Big Five".[2]

Italy is currently the most successful Big Five country in the Eurovision Song Contest following the introduction of the rule, finishing in the top ten in nine of the last eleven contests (2011–22), including a victory for Måneskin (2021), second places for Raphael Gualazzi (2011) and Mahmood (2019), and third place for Il Volo (2015). They are one of the only two countries of the Big Five – since it was introduced – to have won, the other being Germany in 2010.

Participation overview[edit]

Table key
Second place
Third place
Last place
Entry selected but did not compete
Year Entrant Song Language Final Points Semi Points
1956 Franca Raimondi "Aprite le finestre" Italian [a] [a] No semi-finals
Tonina Torrielli "Amami se vuoi" Italian
1957 Nunzio Gallo "Corde della mia chitarra" Italian 6 7
1958 Domenico Modugno "Nel blu, dipinto di blu" Italian 3 13
1959 Domenico Modugno "Piove (Ciao, ciao bambina)" Italian 6 9
1960 Renato Rascel "Romantica" Italian 8 5
1961 Betty Curtis "Al di là" Italian 5 12
1962 Claudio Villa "Addio, addio" Italian 9 3
1963 Emilio Pericoli "Uno per tutte" Italian 3 37
1964 Gigliola Cinquetti "Non ho l'età" Italian 1 49
1965 Bobby Solo "Se piangi, se ridi" Italian 5 15
1966 Domenico Modugno "Dio, come ti amo" Italian 17 ◁ 0
1967 Claudio Villa "Non andare più lontano" Italian 11 4
1968 Sergio Endrigo "Marianne" Italian 10 7
1969 Iva Zanicchi "Due grosse lacrime bianche" Italian 13 5
1970 Gianni Morandi "Occhi di ragazza" Italian 8 5
1971 Massimo Ranieri "L'amore è un attimo" Italian 5 91
1972 Nicola Di Bari "I giorni dell'arcobaleno" Italian 6 92
1973 Massimo Ranieri "Chi sarà con te" Italian 13 74
1974 Gigliola Cinquetti "" Italian 2 18
1975 Wess and Dori Ghezzi "Era" Italian 3 115
1976 Al Bano and Romina Power "We'll Live It All Again" English, Italian 7 69
1977 Mia Martini "Libera" Italian 13 33
1978 Ricchi e Poveri "Questo amore" Italian 12 53
1979 Matia Bazar "Raggio di luna" Italian 15 27
1980 Alan Sorrenti "Non so che darei" Italian 6 87
1983 Riccardo Fogli "Per Lucia" Italian 11 41
1984 Alice and Battiato "I treni di Tozeur" Italian[b] 5 70
1985 Al Bano and Romina Power "Magic Oh Magic" Italian, English 7 78
1987 Umberto Tozzi and Raf "Gente di mare" Italian 3 103
1988 Luca Barbarossa "Vivo (Ti scrivo)" Italian 12 52
1989 Anna Oxa and Fausto Leali "Avrei voluto" Italian 9 56
1990 Toto Cutugno "Insieme: 1992" Italian[c] 1 149
1991 Peppino di Capri "Comme è ddoce 'o mare" Neapolitan 7 89
1992 Mia Martini "Rapsodia" Italian 4 111
1993 Enrico Ruggeri "Sole d'Europa" Italian 12 45 Kvalifikacija za Millstreet
1997 Jalisse "Fiumi di parole" Italian 4 114 No semi-finals
2011 Raphael Gualazzi "Madness of Love" Italian, English 2 189 Member of the "Big 5"
2012 Nina Zilli "L'amore è femmina (Out of Love)" English, Italian 9 101
2013 Marco Mengoni "L'essenziale" Italian 7 126
2014 Emma "La mia città" Italian 21 33
2015 Il Volo "Grande amore" Italian 3 292
2016 Francesca Michielin "No Degree of Separation" Italian, English 16 124
2017 Francesco Gabbani "Occidentali's Karma" Italian 6 334
2018 Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro "Non mi avete fatto niente" Italian 5 308
2019 Mahmood "Soldi" Italian[d] 2 472
2020 Diodato "Fai rumore" Italian Contest cancelled[e] X
2021 Måneskin "Zitti e buoni" Italian 1 524 Member of the "Big 5"
2022 Mahmood and Blanco "Brividi" Italian 6 268 Member of the "Big 5" and host country
2023 Marco Mengoni "Due vite" Italian TBD 13 May [18] Member of the "Big 5"

Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest[edit]

Entrant Song Language At Congratulations At Eurovision
Final Points Semi Points Year Place Points
Domenico Modugno "Nel blu, dipinto di blu" Italian 2 267 2 200 1958 3 13


Year Location Venue Presenters
1965 Naples Auditorium RAI Renata Mauro
1991 Rome Teatro 15 di Cinecittà Gigliola Cinquetti and Toto Cutugno
2022 Turin PalaOlimpico Alessandro Cattelan, Laura Pausini and Mika


Marcel Bezençon Awards[edit]

Year Category Song Performer Final Points Host city Ref.
2015 Press Award "Grande amore" Il Volo 3 292 Austria Vienna
2017 Press Award "Occidentali's Karma" Francesco Gabbani 6 334 Ukraine Kyiv
2019 Composer Award "Soldi" Mahmood 2 465 Israel Tel Aviv

Winner by OGAE members[edit]

Year Song Performer Final
Points Host city Ref.
2015 "Grande amore" Il Volo 3 292 Austria Vienna
2017 "Occidentali's Karma" Francesco Gabbani 6 334 Ukraine Kyiv
2019 "Soldi" Mahmood 2 465 Israel Tel Aviv

Related involvement[edit]


Year Sanremo Conductor[f] Eurovision Conductor Musical Director Notes Ref.
1956 Gian Stellari N/A [25]
1957 Armando Trovajoli
1958 Italy United Kingdom Alberto Semprini
1959 William Galassini [it]
1960 Cinico Angelini
1961 Gianfranco Intra
1962 Cinico Angelini
1963 Gigi Chichellero [it]
1964 Gianfranco Monaldi [it]
1965 Gianni Marchetti Gianni Ferrio [g]
1966 Unknown Angelo Giacomazzi [it] N/A [h]
1967 N/A Giancarlo Chiaramello
1969 Ezio Leoni
1970 Mario Capuano [it] [26]
1971 Enrico Polito [it]
1972 Gian Franco Reverberi
1973 N/A Enrico Polito
1974 Gianfranco Monaldi
1975 Natale Massara [it]
1976 Maurizio Fabrizio
1978 Nicola Samale
1979 No conductor [i]
1980 United Kingdom Del Newman [27]
1983 Maurizio Fabrizio
1984 Giusto Pio
1985 Fiorenzo Zanotti
1987 Gianfranco Lombardi [it]
1988 No conductor [j]
1989 Mario Natale
1990 Gianni Madonini
1991 Bruno Canfora
1992 Marco Falagiani [it] N/A
1993 Vittorio Cosma
1997 Lucio Fabbri
2011 Ferdinando Arnò No orchestra
2012 N/A[k]
2013 Fabio Gurian
2014 N/A [l]
2015 Carolina Bubbico [it]
2016 Giuseppe Vessicchio
2017 Luca Chiaravalli [it]
2018 Diego Calvetti [it]
2019 Dario Faini
2020 Rodrigo D'Erasmo [it] [m]
2021 Enrico Melozzi
2022 Carmelo Patti (nights 1, 3 and 5)
Michele Zocca (night 4)

Heads of delegation[edit]

Year Head of delegation Ref.
2011–2019 Nicola Caligiore
2020–2021 Simona Martorelli
2022–present Mariangela Borneo

Commentators and spokespersons[edit]

Year Final commentator Semi-final commentator Spokesperson Ref.
1956 Bianca Maria Piccinino No semi-finals No spokesperson
1957 Nunzio Filogamo
1958 Fulvia Colombo [it]
1959 Enzo Tortora
1960 Giorgio Porro
1961 Corrado Mantoni
1962 Renato Tagliani [it]
1964 Rosanna Vaudetti
1965 Daniele Piombi
1966 Enzo Tortora
1967 Mike Bongiorno
1970 Enzo Tortora
1971 No spokesperson
1974 Rosanna Vaudetti Anna Maria Gambineri [it]
1975 Silvio Noto
1976 Rosanna Vaudetti
1977 Mariolina Cannuli [it]
1978 Rosanna Vaudetti
1979 Paola Perissi [it]
1980 Michele Gammino Mariolina Cannuli
19811982 No broadcast Did not participate
1983 Paolo Frajese [it] 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
1988 Daniele Piombi
1989 Gabriella Carlucci [it] Peppi Franzelin [it]
1990 Peppi Franzelin [it] Paolo Frajese
1991 No commentator Rosanna Vaudetti
1992 Peppi Franzelin Nicoletta Orsomando
1993 Ettore Andenna [it] Ettore Andenna Peppi Franzelin
19941996 No broadcast Did not participate
1997 Ettore Andenna No semi-finals Peppi Franzelin
19982002 No broadcast Did not participate
2003 Fabio Canino [it] and Paolo Quilici No semi-finals
20042005 No broadcast
2006 Unknown
20072010 No broadcast
2011 Raffaella Carrà and Bob Sinclar Raffaella Carrà Raffaella Carrà
2012 Filippo Solibello [it] and Marco Ardemagni [it] Federica Gentile [it] Ivan Bacchi [it]
2013 Filippo Solibello, Marco Ardemagni and Natasha Lusenti [it] Federica Gentile
2014 Linus and Nicola Savino [it] Marco Ardemagni and Filippo Solibello Linus
2015 Federico Russo and Valentina Correani [it] (TV)
Marco Ardemagni and Filippo Solibello (radio)
Federico Russo
2016 Flavio Insinna and Federico Russo Claudia Andreatti
2017 Andrea Delogu [it] and Diego Passoni [it] Giulia Valentina
2018 Serena Rossi and Federico Russo (TV)
Carolina Di Domenico and Ema Stokholma [it] (radio)
Carolina Di Domenico and Saverio Raimondo [it]
2019 Flavio Insinna and Federico Russo (TV)
Ema Stokholma and Gino Castaldo [it] (radio)
Federico Russo and Ema Stokholma Ema Stokholma
2021 Gabriele Corsi [it] and Cristiano Malgioglio (TV)
Ema Stokholma and Gino Castaldo (radio)
Ema Stokholma and Saverio Raimondo Carolina Di Domenico
2022 Gabriele Corsi, Cristiano Malgioglio and Carolina Di Domenico (TV)
Ema Stokholma, Gino Castaldo and Saverio Raimondo (radio)
2023 Gabriele Corsi and Mara Maionchi (TV)
Mariolina Simone [it], Diletta Parlangeli and Saverio Raimondo (radio)

Other shows[edit]

Show Commentator Channel Ref.
Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light Flavio Insinna and Federico Russo Rai 1
Gino Castaldo [it] and Ema Stokholma [it] Rai 4
Rai Radio 2


See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ a b The 1956 contest had secret voting and, apart from the winner, no results were released.
  2. ^ Contains some words in German
  3. ^ Repeats two words in English
  4. ^ Contains phrases in Arabic
  5. ^ The 2020 contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  6. ^ All conductors are of Italian nationality unless otherwise noted.
  7. ^ Ferrio also conducted the Austrian and Irish entries
  8. ^ Giacomazzi was originally brought in to conduct the Italian entry, but the Luxembourgish orchestra didn't perform it to singer Domenico Modugno's satisfaction. The Italian performance was then accompanied by a small ensemble of musicians, with Giacomazzi playing the piano. Therefore, the Italian entry didn't technically feature the orchestra, but Giacomazzi was still credited as the entry's conductor.
  9. ^ The Italian entry was performed without orchestral accompaniment.
  10. ^ The Italian entry was performed without orchestral accompaniment.
  11. ^ The Italian entrant was chosen from the competitors of the 2012 Sanremo Music Festival; the selected entrant, Nina Zilli, competed at Sanremo with "Per sempre," conducted by Giuseppe Vessicchio. Her chosen entry, "L'amore è femmina," was not a Sanremo entry.
  12. ^ The Italian entry was determined through an internal selection.
  13. ^ Although Diodato accepted RAI's invitation to represent Italy at the 2020 contest, it was subsequently canceled due to COVID-19.


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External links[edit]