Today, all eyes are on Italy. Italians are going to the polls. All pre-election polls indicate that the right-wing parties – Salvini’s Lega, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia – should win. The latter, according to estimates, should get the largest number of votes. Encoded in the party’s name is the symbolism, so important to every Italian.
“Fratelli d’Italia” is a direct reference to the Italian anthem, which begins with these very words – “Brothers Italians…” The Italian national song was written in 1847 by Goffredo Mameli. Hence, it is also referred to as the ‘Mameli Hymn.’ There are interesting connections between the two anthems, Polish and Italian, which both Poles and some Italians are sometimes unaware of.
Polish anthem was written in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and a plaque dedicated to Józef Wybicki is hung on the wall of the building where the Italians approved the design of their flag – the main venue is called the ‘Sala del Tricolore.’ This year, the 225th anniversary of the creation of ‘Dąbrowski’s Mazurek’ was celebrated in Reggio.
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A remarkable trace of Polish-Italian friendship is the mutual mention of our countries in both national songs. In ours, we have a reference to Dabrowski’s Legionaries who wanted to go “from Italian soil to Poland.” In the Italian national anthem, however, there is a stanza about how “already the Austrian eagle had lost his feathers, Italian blood and Polish blood he drank with the Cossack, but it burned his heart out” (Italian: Son giunchi che piegano le spade vendute; già l’aquila d’Austria le penne ha perdute. Il sangue d’Italia e il sangue Polacco bevé col Cosacco, ma il cor le bruciò). The fight for freedom and independence was what united the hearts of Italians and Poles in the 19th century.
Garibaldi’s generation succeeded in winning a free and united Italy in 1861. Besides, the leader of the Italian road to independence was in constant contact with the leaders of the Polish January Uprising. Poles had to wait longer, half a century more, to fulfil the dream of a sovereign, free, reborn Poland.
But the trace of the common past and the ideals that unite both nations remain in both anthems. It is a beautiful symbol. Perhaps worthy of special reminding in the present era when Freedom and Sovereignty are again values to be fought for.