Living, loving, laughing – “La dolce Vita” in fact. This promises Italian hits that have been with us for generations. They tell of days in the sun and by the sea, they give us insights into the everyday life of the Italian extended family and they transport a lot of feeling, especially the most Italian of all feelings: “Amore”. We take a look at the 100 most successful and best hits of the past decades.
Songs that go into the ear and into the heart. We discover the secret love, the great love, the love for the fatherland and get infected by “Amore” and “Dolce Vita”.
(You’ll find a Spotify playlist at the end of this article.)
01. “Felicità” by Al Bano and Romina Power
If there was still a monarchy in Italy, Al Bano and Romina would be the royal couple. The whole country cheered when the two announced that they would at least be on stage together again.
The whole country secretly hopes that with the songs the old love will come back too. Albano Carrisi fell in love with Romina Power, a girl 12 years younger than him, in the early 70s and the rest is music history. A representative for their numerous hits stands here their probably most well-known one.
02. “L`Emozione non ha voce” by Adriano Celentano
What else can be said about this man that hasn’t already been said hundreds of times? In the non-Italian speaking area probably so many things.
The importance attributed to Adriano in Italy, he has never achieved outside his homeland. Nevertheless, the 80-year-old can look back on a fantastic international career.
He is credited with bringing rock ‘n’ roll to Italy, which some of his 34! published albums can testify. Since Celentano’s day apparently has more than 24 hours, he also starred in more than 30 movies. If you want to see him dragging the Italian beauty Ornella Muti behind him on the tractor, dare to try “Give the monkey sugar” from 1981.
For this list, we have opted for his softer tones and chosen a beautiful ballad from 1999.
03. “Caruso” by Lucio Dalla
The great artist Lucio Dalla sings here a tribute to the no less great Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. According to the singer, the song was written when he stopped in Sorrento on tour and learned that his hotel room was occupied at the time by the very Enrico Caruso.
The inspiration seized Dalla and he wrote a masterpiece in Italian and Neapolitan that would become the anthem for the entire south of the country and beyond.
04. “Gente di Mare” by Umberto Tozzi and Raf
Even if the song only came third in the Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson in 1988, in contrast to the first place winners at that time, they sing “Gente di Mare”. A beautiful duet about the freedom of the sea in contrast to the narrowness of the city.
A classic Longing song, which is best enjoyed by the sea.
05. “La Bambola” by Patty Pravo
The younger generation probably knows this song best from the George Clooney movie: “The American”, where it can be heard in the background in a very famous scene. However, this hymn of self-respect is much too good for the background.
Patty Pravo sings this ode to women so powerfully and determinedly since 1968 that this classic song can undoubtedly be included among the top 5 best Italian songs of all time.
06. “Via con me” by Paolo Conte
The jazz enthusiasm of the former lawyer, singer-songwriter, painter, sculptor, composer, actor, director, and internationally acclaimed music star Paulo Conte can be clearly heard in this gem from 1981. Conte, who at that time could already look back on a 30-year career, was nevertheless happy like a little child about the great international success of the song.
07. “Senza una Donna” by Zucchero
Zucchero Sugar Fornaciari, or Adelmo Fornaciari in his real name, has also achieved great international fame. This is supported on the one hand by his chart positions, but not least by his collaborations, which read like a Who’s Who of the music business.
Bono from U2, Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits, Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, Miles Davies, Mousse T, and the list goes on and on.
“Senza Una Donna” was his first worldwide hit in 1987, through this beautiful song artists worldwide became aware of him and couldn’t get enough of his bluesy voice and meaty lyrics. Paul Young fell in love with the song so much that he re-released it in 1991 together with Zucchero in an Italian-English version. The song shot into the top ten in all European countries.
08. “Tornerò” by I Santo California
The band from southern Italy was founded in 1973. Two years later their biggest hit “Tornerò” was already released. Worldwide the song sold over eleven million copies, the neighboring countries all release their own versions of the song.
Very well known is the German version by Michael Holm: “Wart auf mich”. The song “Tornerò” reached number one in Switzerland, top five rankings in many countries in Europe.
I Santo California was successful in the following years, especially in Switzerland. Despite or maybe because of the many successes, the group decided to take a rather radical step in 1977. From then on they only wanted to play on small, regional stages and avoid the big crowds. The success of the song was not diminished by this decision.
To “Tornerò” is still hummed today.
09. “‘O sole mio” by Eduardo Di Capua
This song is so old and so well known that it is now simply part of Italian cultural heritage. Countless performers, the most successful and famous among them, probably Luciano Pavarotti, have sung this Neapolitan tune.
In fact, it was written in 1898 by the Neapolitan composer Eduardo Di Capua.
Elvis Presley sang his own version: “It’s Now or Never” and landed a number 1 hit in the USA and Great Britain.
When they couldn’t find the Italian national anthem at the Olympic Games in Antwerp in 1920, they played “‘O sole Mio” instead. What did Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II., and Hugo Chávez have in common? Their favorite song is “O sole Mio”.
Another fan is Yuri Gagarin, the first cosmonaut in space, who hummed the song during his first orbit around the Earth.
10. Marina by Rocco Granata
The genesis of this song is as funny as the song itself. Once upon a time, a Belgian car mechanic with Italian roots, looking at a poster for his cigarette brand “Marina,” had the idea of writing an international hit song. Via detours, “Marina,” the song, not the cigarette brand, then came to Germany, where the song stayed at number one in the charts for three months in 1959. First Germany, then the world.
In Granata’s home country of Belgium, “Marina” reserved the number one spot for five months at once.
It is estimated that the single has sold about ten million copies worldwide. The now-former car mechanic Rocco Granata is pleased that his retirement provision still puts people in a good mood today.
11. “Per Elisa” by Alice
The woman with the voice of a man. Not least this unique deep but incredibly melodious voice is probably also to be owed to the insane success of the song. The content is about a couple of lovers broken because the man has fallen in love with a new woman: Elisa.
The abandoned partner now accuses them, by which she wants to regain her lost treasure. The partner is in bondage to Elisa, but she is not even “Bella”, which is beautiful. Many Performered this lyric as a lament to drug addiction, Elisa as a synonym for the drug that leaves the man without life, dignity, and free will.
Both the performer Alice and the Songwriter Franco Battiato deny having drug addiction in mind. The director of the film “Amore Tossico”, about heroin addicts in Ostia, nevertheless used the song as the theme song.
12. “Mamma Maria” by Ricchi e Poveri
The rich and the poor (Ricchi e Poveri) sing about their mama and all Europe sings along with them. The song was a big chart success for the band and so it is not surprising that they still like to perform it today, almost 40 years after its release.
Together with “Sarà perché ti amo”, the song is the absolute crowd favorite of Ricchi e Poveri and is demanded by the audience at every performance.
13. “Un raggio di Sole” by Jovanotti
Lorenzo Cherubini Jovanotti took the world by storm in 1994 with his “Serenata Rap”. At the time, many attested it a very short career, from One-hit wonder was the talk, too rebellious, too new was Jovanotti’s mix of classic Italian songs and modern rap. The chosen song from the 1999 hit album “Lorenzo 1999 – Capo Horn” proved that Jovanotti had definitely earned his place in the Italian musical Olympus.
There he resides to this day.
14. “Con te partirò” by Andrea Bocelli
This immortal anthem was premiered in 1995 at the San Remo Festival. Hard to comprehend today, but actually happened that way: The song does not win at the festival.
Even in the months after that, the song bumbles along in the charts without getting any special attention. This changed radically when the song was performed as a duet by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman at the boxing match between Henry Maske and Virgil Hill. The fight was watched by 21 million people worldwide, and the song was liked even more in the weeks that followed. In France, the song topped the charts for six weeks and went triple platinum.
In Belgium “Con te partirò” was number 1 for twelve weeks and became the best selling single of all time. The song received platinum awards in 6 other European countries, including Switzerland and Germany.
15. “Un estate italiana” by Gianna Nannini and Edoardo Bennato
Goosebumps in one…two… “Forse non sarà una canzone”…
But let’s start at the beginning. In 1990 there was a World Cup in Italy, which probably especially the Germans can remember quite well.
Gianna Nannini and Edoardo Bennato were asked if they would be interested in singing “Un estate Italiano”. Nannini refused at first because her title was much too commercial and therefore inappropriate to the rest of her work. But since the family is the most important thing in Italy and Nannini’s father is a big soccer fan, she finally let herself be persuaded.
At the opening ceremony of the 1990 World Cup in Milan, Nannini and Bennato sang “Un’estate Italiana” and a billion people watched. Until today it is enough to just play the song and everyone has the images of 1990 in their head. An Italian summer in which the (soccer) world looked and, above all, listened to Italy.
16. “Innamorati come noi” by Laura Pausini
The beautiful Laura could be quoted here dozens of times, nationally and internationally she regularly lands big hits. Representing a whole ocean of romantic, melancholic, and soulful songs, here’s her take on “Lovers Like Us.
17. “Solo Noi” by Toto Cotugno
Who was Toto Cotugno again? The man who participated 15 times in the venerable Festival di San Remo with hits like “L`Italiano” and “Insieme”, but won it only once. With which song?
Of course with “Solo Noi”.
18. “L’Aurora” by Eros Ramazotti
There would have been many songs in Italian that could have been chosen by Eros for this countdown. But none goes to the heart like the song that the proud dad wrote for his first daughter Aurora.
Aurora translated the dawn has turned the life of one of the most famous Italian singers completely upside down. If before her birth he was known as a sex symbol and womanizer, with the arrival of the dawn he took on the role of his life: that of a loving father.
19. “Liberi, Liberi” by Vasco Rossi
Vasco Rossi has been moving Italians since the early 70s. The artist has never shied away from openly declaring his colors and addressing even unpleasant subjects. Especially in his function as a radio presenter, he did not only make friends with it.
His undiplomatic nature may be controversial, but what everyone agrees on is his musical genius. Representative of an opus that should be heard, here’s one of his most successful songs, whose lyrics justify the next Italian course.
20. “Ti Amo” by Umberto Tozzi
In this song from 1977 the Italian bard makes the purest of all declarations of love to the woman of his dreams: “Ti Amo”, in German: “Ich Liebe Dich”. While the Italian version was a big hit in several countries in Europe, the German translation, sung by Howard Carpendale, was even much better received.
Also in 1977, also titled “Ti Amo”, Howie overtook the good Umberto.
Places 21-100 of the best Italian hits of all time:
Italian Spotify Playlist:
These were them, the 100 most successful and best hits in Italy. Countless Cover versions show that these songs work not only in Italian. The origin years prove that emotions are timeless and generations to come can still bob cool to Paulo Conte, sigh sway to Eros Ramazotti and dance sexy to Patty Pravo. Whether this list serves as the basis for the playlist for the next vacation in Italy or drives you to take a closer look at the life’s work of the listed artists, in any case, it is worth listening to it.
For some to discover new heroes, for others to reminisce in wonderful memories.