The great American tenor and Hollywood film star of Italian origin, Mario Lanza and Luisa Di Meo (the little girl) sing “Arrivederci Roma” (Goodbye Rome), from the 1958 Italian-American musical film “Seven Hills of Rome”. It was Lanza’s penultimate film. The composer of the song, Renato Rascel (27 April 1912 – 2 January 1991) also played in the movie. Lyrics of the song by Pietro Garinei and Sandro Giovannini. It was published in 1955 as part of the soundtrack and the American songwriter Carl Sigman wrote the lyrics for the English language version of the movie.
The little girl in the movie is Luisa Di Meo, uncredited in the movie.
Arrivederci Roma” (Goodbye, Rome) is a popular Italian song, composed by Renato Rascel, with lyrics by Pietro Garinei and Sandro Giovannini. It was published in 1955 and became a worldwide hit after it was used in the 1958 film of the same name (Seven Hills of Rome, Italian title: Arrivederci Roma), directed by Roy Rowland.
The song tells of a man leaving Rome and saying goodbye to the city and a woman he loves. Its sentimental lyrics, beautiful melody, and depiction of Rome’s charm have made it a classic in Italian music. Different versions of the song have been recorded in various languages, further popularizing the song globally.
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.
The song recalls the popular legend associated with the Trevi Fountain, a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. Standing 26.3 meters (86 feet) high and 49.15 meters (161.3 feet) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.
Coins are purportedly meant to be thrown using the right hand over the left shoulder. An estimated 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain each day. The money has been used to subsidize a supermarket for Rome’s needy; however, there are regular attempts to steal coins from the fountain.
Arrivederci Roma Lyrics
T’invidio turista che arrivi,
t’imbevi de fori e de scavi
poi tutto d’un colpo te trovi
fontana de Trevi ch’è tutta pe’ te!
Ce sta ‘na leggenda romana
legata a ‘sta vecchia fontana
per cui se ce butti un soldino
costringi er destino a fatte tornà
Arrivederci Roma, Goodbye, Au Revoir…
Mentre l’inglesina s’allontana
un ragazzinetto s’avvicina
va nella fontana, pesca un soldo, se ne va!
I envy you, tourist, you come,
you feast on forums and ruins,
then suddenly you discover
the fountain of Trevi, which is there all for you.
There’s a Roman legend
attached to this old fountain
by which if you throw in a penny
then you’ll bind Fate to make you come back.
Goodbye, Rome, Goodbye, Au Revoir…
While the English girl departs
a little kid comes by
goes into the fountain, picks a penny, and goes away!
Interview with Luisa Di Meo
Luisa Di Meo tells the story of Seven Hills of Rome: (source)
Contrary to what some people think, I did not meet Mario in Via Veneto. When Mario came to Rome, he stayed at the Bernini Hotel in Piazza Barberini. It was the first or the second day he was there. I was singing in the square while my brother was playing the accordion. Once I finished my song, we started walking away from the square. As we were walking, a man followed us and stopped us.
He asked us “Please, can you stop for a moment?”. My brother asked him ‘What is it?” He replied ”There is a man who wants to hear your sister singing one more time”. So I sang again, and I looked up and saw Mario, Betty, and their children looking at us from the fourth floor.
The man who stopped me in the street was Mario’s private chauffeur and once I had finished singing, he came back to see me and handed to us a 10,000 Lire banknote! You know, the big banknote of those days! The man told my brother that that gift was Mario Lanza’s gift. He added that Mario had come to Rome to make a movie and had read in the script that they needed a little girl who could sing. This man then gave my brother the address of the Production Company, Titanus, and told us to go there for the casting.
I was 12 years old, I remember well what happened.
When we went there, there were a lot of little girls waiting in line. But Mario wanted me, he really wanted me because he had already heard me.
They gave me so much money. I remember when we did the recording, in Via Margutta. I remember all the details.
I know Mario like my singing. I used to sing in Neapolitan and Mario loved Neapolitan. He liked it because he WAS Caruso….
The Producers did not want to pay me much, because we were in 1957, in Italy there was no money. There was poverty. But they had money and my brother insisted on asking for more of it and used to argue with the two Directors, especially with Mario Russo, the Italian Director.
In the end, also because Mario only wanted me, they gave me 500,000 Lire. On the day we recorded the song in Piazza Navona, I was sick. I had influenza. I just could not sing, and we spent almost the whole day there trying to shoot that scene. My mother, a few days before, had come from Naples to be with me. We were staying in a small hotel. Every day, the chauffeur would come to the hotel to bring me my meals. They were feeding me well because they wanted me to recover quickly.
I studied with Maestro Carlo Rustichelli.
The man who plays the accordion in the movie is not my brother, by the way. My brother was 19 years old at the time.
Before making the movie, I went to Mario’s house many times and used to play with his children. I always Mario in the huge living room on the ground floor. He would be sitting there alone, drinking wine from the old-fashioned flask of wine. As I would pass by him, he would stop me and say “You know you must come to America with me, right?” and I would giggle.
After the movie with Mario, I was called by Pietro Germi, a famous Italian Director, to sing the soundtrack of one of his movies (‘Il Maledetto Imbroglio’), but my brother destroyed my chances by hitting him in the face.
Betty was very beautiful, always very elegant. She was always following Mario. She was so in love with him. Mario was more reserved, and not as ‘clingy’ as she was with him.
Marisa Allasio was so beautiful. She liked Mario a lot. She was in love with him and for this reason, Mario slapped her once. He told her “How do you dare come after me! I am married and have four children!” I was not there when this happened, but everybody on the set knew this, and they were often talking about it. Betty had sensed there was something wrong. She was jealous. That is why she started going to the set every day. Mario was not that pleased about it, but he would not say anything.
For me, this was strange because I was a little girl and for me, he was like a father figure.
My brother brought me to the set every day. He wanted me to get used to that kind of environment. Renato Rascel was very kind to me. He used to kiss me and tell me “Ah, you are the girl who stole all my songs!”
After the movie, I went back home.
I got married two years later when I was 14 years old.
Mario loved his children very much. He used to play with them all the time. That is why he liked me because I was his children’s age. Betty was not so involved with the children. She was often in her bedroom, on her own. Villa Badoglio was so big.
Mario’s grandfather was very kind to me as well. I remember him crying at Mario’s funeral.
Marc was very beautiful.
Ellisa has always been very thin and looks like her Mamma.
Mario was always very generous, and I can still feel his hand on my shoulder when he would stop me to tell me I was going to America with him.
Toward the end of the movie, Mario changed. He started to eat too much and looked very unhappy. When I started going to Villa Badoglio he was always very cheerful, but then something changed. He was not himself anymore.
I think because they were trying to force him to do something he did not want to do. He was too honest. He could have had an affair with Marisa Allasio, but he was too honest.
I do not think he had other women. He came from such a beautiful, traditional family. He was very handsome. There were always women around him. But he was such a good, generous man. He truly wanted to help me. Just after we completed the movie, the Carabinieri (the military Police) went to my parents’ house to ask their official permission for me to go to America, because I was underage. But then Mario died. And I stopped singing.
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