Friday, July 9, 2010

Dueling Love Songs from the Amalfi Coast

During my all too brief trip to Italy this summer, I was able to spend a day on the Amalfi coast and enjoy its breathtaking scenery. Sorrento is probably the best known town on the Amalfi Coast (also known as the Sorrentine Peninsula), having been immortalized by the Neapolitan classic love song, Torna a Surriento. The song is well known internationally, has been translated into English (Come Back to Sorrento) and at one point even inspired a hilarious parody by Allan Sherman.

On one level, Torna a Surriento is just a sappy love song, the pathetic lament of a rejected lover saying, “Oh please don’t leave me, for I cannot live without you.“ What helps this otherwise overdone genre of music to rise to a classic—in addition to the song's captivating melody—is its allusion to the breathtaking beauty of Sorrento itself. The song paints a poetic picture extolling the beauties of the town and then says, “It’s bad enough that you are leaving me, but how can you possibly leave behind the beauties of Sorrento?”

On the opposite side of the peninsula is the town of Positano, which rivals Sorrento's stunning panorama. Like Sorrento, Positano also boasts of a love song written in its honor. Though not quite as well known, Venetenne a Positano (Come to Positano) is a more upbeat song with a slightly different twist. While the rejected lover of Sorrento feels he cannot possibly go on living without his lady love, the man from Positano has some different priorities. Though his song sings the praises of Positano’s captivating and magical beauty and the chorus also asks his lady love to join him in Positano, his request is merely an invitation, not a desperate plea. In effect, he is saying, “Positano is a beautiful place and it would be great if you would join me here, but whatever you do, I’m staying here!”

Because I love both of these songs as well as the towns that inspired them, I prepared the attached videos, which include images of Sorrento and Positano, as well as audio and some very loosely translated lyrics of the classic songs inspired by the two towns. The first video is an updated recording of Torna a Surrientu performed by Andrea Bocelli. The second video features Venetenne a Positano in its original version by Sergio Bruni. I hope you enjoy them both.

Torna a Surrientu

Vienetenne a Positano


Tetamay said...

I can imagine how much more beautiful the reality is than the images show! wow...Truly beautiful.

JD Curtis said...

Wow! This is like CULTURE Leo. Keep it up pal, you'll civilize me yet ;-)

feeno said...

In 1976 before opening day in Cincinnati Ohio I ate at a restaurant/bar named Sorrento's for the first time. And have been eating lunch there ever since. My Dad's office is a couple blocks away and he practically lives there. I forgot about the bar part. One night I took my basketball team (6th-8th grade boys) from a Christian School, downtown to see the globe trotters. On the way back I was hungry so I took them to Sorrento's. By the end of the night our whole team was all sitting around the piano with the house singer singing at the top of our lungs "Bye bye miss American pie drove my ...... It was a great night, but I got some side way stares from some parents about that night.

Anyways I'm glad you were able to visit your roots and the beauty of Italy.

Thanks for checking in at my blog. You always teach me something. That is actually quite interesting about all of those greetings. Vaya con Dios, feeno