Summer Melodies

Sunny melodies: a nostalgic journey through Italian summer songs

Sun, sea, the beach, and millions of memories: this is what some songs bring back to our mind (Photo: Sarah Nicholl/Dreamstime)

When you think of summer, what comes to mind? For some, it’s the smell of sunblock, the taste of ripe, juicy watermelon, or the feeling of sand between their toes. For others, summer is a song – a tune that transports you back to warm nights, carefree days, and the sweetness of doing absolutely nothing. For Italians, this is often a song about the summer or a song that became popular during the warmest months. 

Our first stop is the vibrant 1980s, with the synth-pop hit LEstate sta Finendo (1985) by Righeira. Despite its title, which translates to “Summer is ending,” this song is anything but a downer: it’s a lively, danceable track that became a true summer anthem. Perhaps it’s because the song captures the fleeting beauty of the season and the youthful sorrow we felt when those long days of freedom began to shorten. Each beat seems to echo those final nights out, the last dips in the sea, and the setting of a summer sun that we wished would linger just a bit longer.

As the 90s arrived, so did Più  Bella Cosa by Eros Ramazzotti (1996) a love song that serenaded an entire season. You can almost hear the rustling of palm trees and the gentle breaking of waves in its soft, romantic rhythm. There’s something about this song that makes you want to slow dance under a starry sky, preferably with a summer love. Its lyrics praise the beauty of the singer’s at-that-time romantic partner,  and the song itself became a backdrop to countless summer romances, a soundtrack of stolen kisses and seaside walks under the moonlight.

Ombrelloni on an Italian beach: a symbol of summer, just like music! (Fedecandoniphoto/Dreamstime)

A journey into summer music wouldn’t be complete without a stop in the 1960s, the golden age of Italian pop. Edoardo Vianello’s 1963 hit Abbronzatissima is the epitome of a summer anthem: the title translates to “very tanned,” capturing the quintessential image of Italian beach culture. Its playful lyrics paint a picture of sun-kissed skin, straw hats, and carefree beach days that seem endless in memory. Every time the song plays, you can almost taste the salt on your lips and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. It’s a ticket back to a time when summer meant freedom, fun, and the occasional sunburn.

Fast forward to 2012 and we have Estate by Jovanotti, a beautiful blend of pop, hip-hop, and folk music that is a tribute to the Italian summer. The song is like a burst of sunshine, filled with catchy lyrics and a rhythm that just makes you want to move. It encapsulates the joy and carefree spirit of the season, and every play brings back memories of lighthearted, youthful summer days. It’s the song you’d blast from your car radio as you drive along the coast, the wind in your hair and the sea in your sights.

Our journey ends in 1992 with Mare Mare by Luca Carboni. This song is a love letter to the seaside and turned into a true classic in Italy. Its melody is as calming as a lullaby, and the lyrics echo a longing for the beach that anyone who has spent a summer by the sea can relate to. It might be three decades old, but every play brings a fresh wave of nostalgia for past summers, and a longing for the gentle rhythm of waves, the cool sea breeze, and the simple joy of days spent by the sea.

In the end, summer, like this music, is ephemeral. It comes and goes, leaving behind a trail of sun-soaked memories in its wake. And yet, just as we return to these beloved songs year after year, so does summer, bringing back its sun, cheerfulness, warmth, and joy. These tunes serve as the background score to our summer memories, and act as anchors to moments in time forever preserved in the sun-drenched corners of our minds. And so, from the playful levity of “Abbronzatissima” to the sweet longing in “Mare Mare,” these songs encapsulate the essence of the season and, somehow, give us back a small speckle of our youth. They remind us of a time when days were long, nights were warm, music was always just right and, most importantly, the future was all for us to conquer. 

Many of these songs have been the soundtrack of unforgettable moments, often associated with summers spent on colorful beaches with friends (Photo: Luca Lorenzelli/Dreamstime)

As another summer unfolds before us, we may find ourselves adding new songs to our playlists, creating new memories to the rhythm of fresh melodies. And who knows? Perhaps years from now, we’ll listen to them and magically return to the warmest days of 2023. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the sunshine, while our favorite tunes play on, each note a celebration of the past and a toast to the summers yet to come. After all, as the Italians say, la vita è bella, life is beautiful – especially in the summer.