Italy has always been a focal point of the arts and western culture, contributing architecture, art, food, and a pivotal historical role to the rest of the world. With such a rich history, it’s no surprise that Italy has produced some amazing music, from the classical periods to modern-day hits.
Folk, Neapolitan, funk, and pop have been integral to the Italian music scene for a long time and have given us numerous international hits. In this article, we’ll go over 25 of the best Italian songs ever.
1. O Sole Mio – Eduardo Di Capua
Our top spot for this one will be one of the oldest and most well-known Italian songs of all time. It’s been so popular for so long that it’s essentially become part of the country’s cultural identity, with countless performers breaking out this Neapolitan tune. They even used it instead of the Italian national anthem at the 1920 Olympics.
The song’s original composer was Eduardo Di Capua, who penned it in 1898. A huge fan favorite, and it is easy to place this as the best Italian song.
2. Felicita – Al Bano & Romina Power
Al Bano and Romina Power combined to create Felicita in 1982 for an album of the same name. The couple was beloved in Italy despite eventually falling out with each other later on. It was a huge commercial success, bringing the duo international acclaim and a spot on top of the Italian charts. It wasn’t the only hit song the pair would produce, but it is their best-known and most popular one.
3. Caruso – Lucio Dalla
Italy’s history is steeped in great singers and composers, with a rich history of opera, theater, and music that’s integral to the identity of the nation. Lucio Dalla penned Caruso in 1986 in tribute to one of those singers, Enrico Caruso, one of the most talented tenors in history. The song would enter the charts after Lucio Dalla died, peaking at number two in Italy and holding the spot for two consecutive weeks. It would also go on to be certified platinum in Italy.
4. Gente di Mare – Umberto Tozzi and Raf
Translating to “people of the sea,” Gente di Mare was originally the Italian entry in the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest, coming from Umberto Tozzi and Raf. In a field of 22 songs, it placed third. While it may not have won the contest, it gained a huge jump in popularity, becoming a top-10 hit across most of Europe. The beautiful blues duet will have you longing for the freedom of the open ocean and feeling claustrophobic on land.
5. Ti Amo – Umberto Tozzi
Here’s another beloved entry from Umberto Tozzi. Ti Amo was originally recorded in 1977 by Tozzi and became an instant hit across much of Europe. English, Spanish, German, and French versions were also released, and all of them did reasonably well in markets that matched the languages. It was a pure, heartfelt declaration of love that universally found its way into people’s hearts.
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6. Funiculi, Funicula – Luigi Denza
Back to the old days we go, Funiculi, Funicula was a Neapolitan song originally composed by Luigi Denza in 1880 to commemorate the first funicular railway on Mount Vesuvius. Within a year, the sheet music would sell over one million copies, and the song has been adapted and recorded since it was published over a century ago. Later English versions would also find quite a bit of popularity in the English-speaking world.
7. Tu vuo’ fa’ l’americano – renato carosone
Translating to “You Want to Play American,” Tu Vuo Fa L’Americano was a Neapolitan language song that first appeared in 1956 when Nicola Salerno and Renato Carosone composed it. It was a combination of swing and jazz music that became Carasone’s best-known song and would be featured in several different films. A satire of Americanization that came after World War II, it was a definitive hit in rural Italy.
8. Quando, Quando, Quando – Tony renis
An Italian pop song from 1962, Quando, Quando, Quando, was a bossa nova song with music by Tony Renis and lyrics by Alberto Testa. It’s been remixed, sampled, and adapted numerous times throughout the years in English pop songs, with one of the most notable versions coming in 2005 from Michael Bublé and Nelly Furtado.
9. Senza Una Donna – Zucchero & Paul young
Senza Una Donna, translating to “without a woman,” was released on Italian artist Zuccherro’s fourth album Blue’s in 1987. By 1990, it was recorded in English by Paul Young. That version entered the UK Singles chart and rose to number four while simultaneously reaching number two in Germany and France.
In total, the worldwide sales for Senza Una Donna are over five million units, allowing Zuccherro to outsell pop icons Michael Jackson and Madonna in his own home country. It was the first worldwide hit for the incredible Zuccherro, who would go on to work in numerous collaborations with artists like U2, Luciano Pavarotti, Miles Davis, and Sting.
10. L’italiano – Toto Cutugno
Toto Cutugno is a massive Italian pop star who got his first big hit with L’italiano. Originally released in 1983, the song was somewhat forgotten for years until Cutugno performed it at a charity in Rome that commemorated Italy’s 2006 World Cup win, creating a new wave of popularity for the song and seeing it reenter the charts. It’s been covered in numerous languages by artists worldwide, from Brazil to France and Vietnam to Hungary.
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11. Con te partirò – Andrea Bocelli
Also known as “Time To Say Goodbye,” Con te Partirò was first performed by Andrea Bocelli at the Sanremo Music Festival in 1995 and then recorded for his Bocelli album that year. It wound up being a massive hit in 1995, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time in France and breaking the all-time sales record in Belgium.
A second version of the song, with parts of it sung in English, was released the next year and found even bigger success by topping charts across Europe and becoming the best-selling single in German history. The German one alone sold over 12 million copies, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time. With that kind of success, it had to be on this list
12. La Solitudine – Laura Pausini
Laura Pausini released this Italian ballad on her self-titled debut album in 1993. She sang it for the first time at the Sanremo Music Festival that year, winning the newcomer’s section of the competition, and eventually reached number five on the Italian Singles chart. Since then, it’s become an Italian standard and one of the most beloved songs in the country’s history.
13. La Bambola – Patty Pravo
There’s an awesome argument out there that this female-empowerment song should be considered one of the best Italian songs of all time, especially coming from all the way back in 1968. It took the top spot of the Italian charts that year, holding the position for nine consecutive weeks, and was the big hit that sent Pravo skyrocketing to stardom.
Many people have probably heard it and never known, as it was in the George Clooney film The American and played in the background of one of the most notable scenes in the movie.
14. Solo Noi – Toto Cutugno
The Sanremo Music Festival is a big deal in Italy, like a really big deal. And Toto Cutugno is another massive star, known for participating in the contest 15 times. Oddly, he only won once, with this gem of an Italian song finally giving him the accolade he desperately deserved.
15. La Aurora – Eros Ramazzotti
Eros Ramazzotti is another one of the biggest names in the Italian music industry, so there are a lot of his songs that could have been chosen for this list. We’re going with L’Aurora, though, the song he wrote for his first daughter and a turning point in his career. Known as a sex symbol, this song humanized him and showed him in an entirely different light, the one of a loving father.
16. Per Elisa – Alice
Per Elisa was meant to be a modern version of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Für Elise ballad but was done from a rock angle to deal with themes of betrayal, anger, and jealousy. Alice herself is known for her unique voice that has a very deep tone, and it really pushed the song over the top into something great.
It went on to become a lament of drug addicts despite both the songwriter and artist saying they had no such thing in mind when they wrote it, though it would feature in the film Amore Tossico (a film about heroin addicts in Ostia) all the same.
17. Tornero – I Santo California
I Santo California was formed in southern Italy back in 1973 and, within two years, would produce their biggest hit with Toreno. It would sell over 11 million copies worldwide, with different versions released for Italy’s neighboring countries in different languages.
Across most of Europe, it was a top-five single that year and has remained one of the most hummed songs of the modern era. Even after all of their success, I Santo California would ditch the big stage in 1977 and stick to smaller crowds and regional stages, a step that was as radical as it is respectable.
18. Azzurro – Adriano Celentano
Adriano Celentano recorded the most famous version of Azzurro in 1968, which makes sense when it was specifically composed for him. It became an Italian standard, recorded and covered by numerous Italian artists over the years, and remains one of the most popular songs in the country’s history.
19. Bella Ciao – Manu pilas
Bella Ciao is an old Italian folk song that dates back to the late 19th century. Over time, it was adapted and used for many purposes, but it has always been a protest song about freedom and resistance. First, it was sung by mondina workers facing harsh working conditions, and after, it was an anthem of the resistance against fascism.
20. Buona Sera Signorina – Carl Sigman and Peter de Rose
Louis Prima performed the best-known version of this song in 1956, which topped the charts in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Norway. Overall, it charted well across Europe, and numerous artists covered it, including the iconic Dean Martin.
21. Marina – Rocco Granata
Marina was the first big hit of pop icon Rocco Granata, originally released in 1959. It sat atop the rankings for hits in Europe in 1960, selling millions of copies and inspiring parents in Belgium and the Netherlands to start naming their daughters “Marina.”
22. Due Innamorati come noi – Laura Pausini
Laura Pausini is someone who should probably have a few more entries on our list. She constantly lands hits on Italian and international charts. This one is a soulful, sad song that is absolutely beautiful.
23. Liberi Liberi – Vasco Rossi
Despite not making too many friends with his controversial and unapologetic stances, Vasco Rossi has always been an incredible Italian artist. Those, however, take nothing away from his brilliance as an artist, and Liberi Liberi is one of his most successful songs.
24. Via con me – Paolo Conte
Paolo Conte was one of those do-it-all guys, but he shined as a singer and songwriter. Via Con Me was released in 1981 to widespread international success and was a highlight of his very long music career.
25. Mamma Maria – Ricchi e Poveri
No, this isn’t Mamma Mia! The song or musical. Mamma Maria was one of the biggest hits for the band Ricchi e Poveri and, despite being over 40 years old, is still a significant component of their live performances. A crowd favorite and a massive chart success, Mamma Maria remains an iconic Italian song to this day.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.