Bella ciao” is an Italian folk song, and later an anti-fascist resistance song. It was used by the Italian partisans during the Italian Civil War between 1943 and 1945 in their struggle against the fascist Italian Social Republic and its Nazi German allies.
It is used worldwide as an anti-fascist hymn of freedom and resistance. The song has much older origins though in the hardships of the mondina women, the paddy field workers in the late 19th century who sang it as a protest against harsh working conditions in the paddy fields in North Italy.
“Bella ciao” was originally sung as “Alla mattina appena alzata” by seasonal worker of paddy fields of rice, especially in Italy’s Po Valley from the late 19th century to the first half of the 20th century with different lyrics.
The work of monda (weeding) was widespread in northern Italy in that era. The work consisted of removing the weeds growing in rice fields that hindered the healthy growth of young rice plants. It took place during the flooding of the fields, from the end of April to the beginning of June every year, during which the delicate shoots needed to be protected, during their first stages of their development, from temperature differences between the day and the night.
bella ciao Rodge Ft Tre Tenori (Album 2018 )
It consisted of two phases: transplanting the plants and pruning the weeds. The work of monda was an extremely tiring task, carried out mostly by women known as mondinas (rice-weeders) that came of the poorest social classes. The workers would spend their workdays with their bare feet in water up to their knees and their back bent for many hours. The atrocious working conditions, long hours and very low pay led to constant dissatisfaction and led, at times to rebellious movements and riots in the early years of the twentieth century.
The struggles against the supervising padroni was even harder with the abundance of clandestine workers ready to compromise even further the already low wages just to get work. Besides “Bella ciao”, similar songs by the mondina women included “Sciur padrun da li beli braghi bianchi” and “Se otto ore vi sembran poche”.
Other similar versions of the antecedents of “Bella ciao” appeared over the years, indicating that “Alla mattina appena alzata” must have been composed in the later half of the 19th century. The earliest written version is dated 1906 and comes from near Vercelli, Piedmont.
“Bella ciao” was revived by the anti-fascist resistance movement active in Italy between 1943 and 1945 with different lyrics of resistance. The author of the lyrics is unknown.
In addition to the original Italian, the song has been recorded by various artists in many different languages, including #Arabic, #Bosnian, #Breton, #Catalan, #Chinese (known as “啊朋友再见“), #Croatian, #Danish, #English, #Esperanto, #Finnish, #German, #Hungarian, #Japanese, #Persian, #Norwegian, #Occitan, #Russian, #Serbian, #Slovenian, #Spanish, #Syriac, #Tagalog, #Telugu, #Thai, #Tibetan, and #Ukrainian.
A rewritten version of the song can be heard on Chumbawamba’s acoustic album A Singsong and a Scrap.
Former Yugoslav punk rock bands KUD Idijoti and later Goblini recorded their versions of the track.
Hungarian punk rock band Aurora has performed the song.
Folk musician Leslie Fish has written and performed several versions of the song, one of which can be found on the album Smoked Fish.
Folk artist Mirah lent her voice to this song on her 2004 album, To All We Stretch the Open Arm.
Anita Lane recorded a version in English for her 2001 album, Sex O’Clock.
Breton folk punk band Les Ramoneurs de menhirs recorded a version in Breton and French but called it “BellARB”.
Danish psychedelic rock group Savage Rose have recorded a version of this song on the albums En Vugge Af Stål from 1982 and Ild Og Frihed (1989).
San Francisco punk band La Plebe perform “Bella Ciao” on their album, Brazo en Brazo.
French-born musician of Spanish origin Manu Chao has also recorded a version of the song.
The tune has been used in a song in the Indian Tollywood movie Businessman, starring Mahesh Babu, Music by S.S.Thaman.
Italian ska punk band Talco recorded the song on their 2006 album Combat Circus.
Konstantin Wecker and Hannes Wader, two German “Liedermacher” performed it live on their collaboration album Was für eine Nacht.
Yugoslav musician Goran Bregovic has recorded one version on his album Champagne for Gypsies (2012).
German folk duo Zupfgeigenhansel recorded a free adaptation on their 1982 album Miteinander that, instead of glorifying the death of the partisan, paints him as a reluctant anti-hero who is scared and despises war, but feels he has no other choice because of the atrocities he has seen.
Thai anti-fascism band, “Faiyen” (ไฟเย็น, “Cold Flame”) recorded a Thai version of the song called “Plodploy Plianplaeng” (Thai: ปลดปล่อย เปลี่ยนแปลง, “Liberate and Change”). It has been used by the Red Shirts anti-fascism group since 2011.
Spanish punk rock band boikot recorded a modified version in Spanish.
An a cappela version was recorded by the Swingle Singers in 1991 on their album “Folk Music Around The World”
Belarusian folk punk band Dzieciuki recorded a modified version in Belarusian under the name “Трымайся, браце!” (“Hold fast, brother”)
Syriac (Aramaic) version created by Beith Souryoye Morounoye under the name “foosh bashlom (Bella ciao)”
Patric recorded Bèla Ciaò, a version in Occitan for his 2010 album, Colors.
Mike Singer recorded an Electro dance version in June 2018.
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