Goodbye to an Eternal City

Trevi Fountain Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain
Rome, Italy


Arrivederci Roma (English: “Goodbye, Rome”) is the title of a popular Italian song, composed by Renato Ranucci (Renato Rascel), with lyrics by Pietro Garinei and Sandro Giovannini. It was published in 1955 and was featured as part of the soundtrack of the 1958 Italo-American musical film with the same title, released as Seven Hills of Rome in English. In the movie, the song is sung by Mario Lanza, who starred in the film. Carl Sigman wrote the lyrics for the English language version of the movie.

The film tells the story of Marc Revere (Mario Lanza), an American TV singer of Italian heritage who travels to Italy in search of his jet-setting fiancée, Carol Ralston, played by Peggie Castle. Revere moves in with his comical and good-hearted cousin Pepe Bonelli (Renato Rascel), a struggling artist who also befriends a beautiful young girl, Raffaella Marini (Marisa Allasio), whom Revere had met on a train, and who develops a crush on him.

After some difficulty, Revere lands a contract to sing in a fine nightclub, but misses his opening night due to unforeseen circumstances during a date with Carol. A helicopter sequence showcases landmarks of Rome from the air. This would be Lanza’s next-to-last film, for he died a year later on October 7, 1959.

Among the selections that Lanza sings in the film is Arrivederci Roma, performed in the Piazza Navona (and recorded) with a young street urchin, Luisa Di Meo. In typical Lanza fashion, the star had encountered the youngster while in Rome and insisted on her appearing in the film. Lanza also performs a sequence of imitations of famous singers of the era — Perry Como, Frankie Laine, Dean Martin, and Louis Armstrong – performing When The Saints Go Marching In and committing to film what was one of his favorite party performances. Opera selections include “Questa o quella” from Rigoletto

Sigman, who had a great deal of success as an English lyric writer for foreign tunes, had fallen in love with the Italian language during World War Two and always hoped that he would find a way to write a song featuring the word “Arrivederci.” He just loved the sound of that word, and this tune provided the perfect melodic opportunity. When he submitted the finished lyric, he was not surprised that the publisher asked him to change one line. Just about all publishers asked for at least one change, if only to prove that they were paying attention. Knowing this, Sigman usually had a backup line at the ready, and in this case he substituted “City of a million moonlight places” for a line that has been forever lost. The song is not a touristy song, but rather one of the many melodies of those unforgettable ’50s and ’60s in which Rome was by far the most romantic, lively, imaginative and hospitable place on earth.

Arrivederci (or a rivederci), which literally means “until we see each other again,” is a common Italian equivalent of “goodbye.” The original lyrics express the nostalgia of a Roman man for the dinners and short-lived love affairs he had with foreign tourists who came to Rome. It recalls the popular legend associated with the Trevi Fountain.

There is a lesser known version of the song, with the same melody but a new set of English lyrics by Jack Fishman, published in 1955 entitled Arrivederci Darling. Both versions of the song, in Italian and English, enjoyed lasting and widespread success in the following years.

The song charted in 1955 with a recording by (“Her Nibs, Miss”) Georgia Gibbs. The song charted later in the 1950s with versions in 1958 by Roger Williams and Mario Lanza
The most famous version in English of the song was by Perry Como, but it was also recorded by a wave of Italian-American singers, including Vic Damone, Connie Francis, Dean Martin, and Jerry Vale. Many non-Italian-Americans have covered it as well, including Abbe Lane with Tito Puente & His Orchestra, and Percy Faith,

THE LYRICS

Arrivederci Roma (Goodbye to Rome)
Music – Renato Ranucci; English lyrics – Carl Sigman

Arrivederci Roma,
Goodbye, goodbye to Rome.
City of a million moonlit places,
City of a million warm embraces,
Where I found the one of all the faces
Far from home!

Arrivederci Roma,
It’s time for us to part.
Save the wedding bells for my returning,
Keep my lover’s arms outstretched and yearning,
Please be sure the flame of love keeps burning
In her heart!

City of a million moonlit places,
City of a million warm embraces,
Where I found the one of all the faces
Far from home!

Arrivederci Roma,
It’s time for us to part,
Save the wedding bells for my returning,
Keep my lover’s arms outstretched and yearning,
Please be sure the flame of love keeps burning
In her heart!

Arrivederci Roma,
Roma, Roma, Roma …

THE RECORDINGS
Arrivederci Roma
Georgia Gibbs
Mario Lanza
Roger Williams
Vic Damone
Perry Como
Connie Francis
Dean Martin
Jerry Vale
Abbe Lane
Percy Faith
Ray Charles Singers

Arrivederci Darling
Anne Shelton
Edna Savage
Jo Stafford

Leave a comment

Filed under Pop Music

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s