Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest

Italy has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 47 times since making its debut at the first contest in 1956. It was one of the seven countries that competed at the first contest, which took inspiration from the Sanremo Music Festival.[1] Italy competed at the contest frequently until 1997. After a 13-year absence, the country returned to the contest in 2011. Italy has won the contest three times.

Member stationRAI
National selection events
National final
Internal selection
  • 1967–1971
  • 1973–1980
  • 1983–1985
  • 1987–1993
  • 2014
Participation summary
First appearance1956
Best result1st: 1964, 1990, 2021
Nul points1966
External links
Italy official website RAI for ESC
Italy's page at
Song contest current event.png For the most recent participation see
Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest 2021

In 1958, Domenico Modugno finished third with the song "Nel blu, dipinto di blu". Renamed "Volare", the song became a huge international hit, reaching the US number one spot and winning two Grammy Awards at its first edition. Emilio Pericoli also finished third in 1963, before Italy won for the first time in 1964 with Gigliola Cinquetti and "Non ho l'età". Cinquetti returned to the contest in 1974 and finished second with the song "", losing to ABBA. Italy then finished third in 1975 with Wess and Dori Ghezzi and the song "Era". The country's best result of the 1980s was Umberto Tozzi and Raf finishing third in 1987. Italy's second victory in the contest came in 1990 with Toto Cutugno and the song "Insieme: 1992". Other good 1990s results were Mia Martini in 1992 and Jalisse in 1997, who both finished fourth. After 1997, Italy withdrew from the competition.

On 31 December 2010, the EBU announced that Italy would be returning to the contest as part of the "Big Five", meaning that it automatically qualified for the final.[2] Italy's return to the contest has proved to be successful, finishing in the top ten in eight of the last ten contests (2011–21), including second places for Raphael Gualazzi (2011) and Mahmood (2019), and third place for Il Volo (2015). Il Volo won the televote, receiving votes from all countries, but came sixth with the juries. Since the introduction of the 50/50 voting system in 2009, this was the first time that the winner of the viewers vote did not win the contest. Italy achieved its third victory at the contest in 2021, with the rock band Måneskin and the song "Zitti e buoni".



Italy has withdrawn from the Eurovision Song Contest a number of times. The first withdrawal was in 1981, when RAI stated that interest had diminished in the country.[3] This absence continued through the following year, before Italy returned in 1983. Italy again withdrew in 1986 when RAI decided not to enter the contest.[citation needed] From 1994 to 1996 Italy withdrew again, with RAI citing a lack of interest in participating. Italy returned in 1997, before withdrawing again without explanation, and the country did not participate again until 2011.[4]

None of the 20th century Eurovision winning songs were particularly successful in the Italian charts. "Non ho l'età" by Gigliola Cinquetti (Grand Prix 1964) was a hit in February 1964 when the song won the Sanremo festival, but according to the official "Hit Parade Italia" website, "Waterloo", "Ding-A-Dong", "Puppet on a String", "Save Your Kisses for Me" and even Italy's own winning entry of 1990, "Insieme: 1992", all failed to enter the top ten of the records sales charts. Two notable exceptions to this rule were, however, the 1984 entry "I treni di Tozeur" by Alice and Franco Battiato which shared 5th position in the final but still became a #3 hit in Italy and was also placed at #20 on the chart of the best-selling singles in Italy of 1984.

TV censorship of the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Edit

Italy refused to broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest 1974 on RAI because of a song sung by Gigliola Cinquetti which coincided with the intense political campaigning for the 1974 Italian referendum on divorce which was held a month later in May. Despite the Eurovision contest's taking place more than a month before the planned vote, Italian censors refused to allow the contest and song to be shown or heard. RAI censors felt that the song, which was titled "" (Yes), and which contained lyrics[5] constantly repeating the aforementioned word could be accused of being subliminal messaging and a form of propaganda to influence the Italian voting public to vote 'yes' in the referendum ('yes' to repeal the law that allowed divorce). The song thus remained censored on most Italian state TV and radio stations for over a month. At the contest in Brighton, Cinquetti finished second, losing to ABBA. "Sì" went on to be a UK top ten hit, peaking at number eight. It also reached the German top 20.[citation needed]

A new interest?Edit

However, in 2008 two noted Italian musicians, Vince Tempera (who was the conductor for Malta in 1975 and had helped San Marino take part in the ESC in 2008) and Eurovision winner Toto Cutugno expressed their sorrow at Italy's non-participation and called for the country to return to the contest.[6][7]

Contestants from the 2008 contest, starting with the winner Dima Bilan appeared on the Italian show Carramba! Che fortuna, hosted by Raffaella Carrà on Rai Uno. Whether this was an initiative by Carrà (who presented three shows in TVE concerning the event) to try to bring Eurovision back to Italy is not clear, but Sietse Bakker, Manager Communications & PR of the Eurovision Song Contest, reiterated that "Italy is still very much welcome to take part in the competition."[8][9]

Shortly after revealing the list of participants for the 2009 Contest the EBU announced that, for the 2010 Contest, they would work harder to bring Italy back into the contest, along with former participants Monaco and Austria.[10]

Successful return to the contestEdit

At a press conference presenting the fourth edition of the Italian X Factor, Rai 2 director Massimo Liofredi announced that the winner of the competition might advance to represent Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest, rather than participate in the Sanremo Festival, as in previous years. On 2 December 2010, it was officially announced by the Eurovision Song Contest official website that Italy had applied to compete in the 2011 Contest.[11] Their participation was further confirmed on 31 December with the announcement of the official participant list.[2]

Italy's return to the contest after a 14-year absence has been successful, finishing in the top ten in eight of the last ten contests (2011–2021). In 2011, Raphael Gualazzi finished second, then Italy's best result since 1990. Italy came first with the jury vote, but only 11th in the televote to place second overall behind eventual winner Azerbaijan. Nina Zilli in 2012 and Marco Mengoni in 2013 were able to achieve a top 10 position (9th and 7th respectively); the latter, gathered 126 points, exactly doubling the points total of the other "Big Five" countries. This trend had a stop when Emma Marrone, selected internally, ended in 21st place, worst position ever of an Italian entry. In 2015, Sanremo winners Il Volo finished third with 292 points, behind Sweden and Russia. Italy placed first in the televote with 366 points, but sixth in the jury vote. Since the introduction of the 50/50 split vote voting system, this was the first time that the winner of the televote did not win the contest. Francesca Michielin, selected among competitors of 2016 Sanremo Festival after the waiver of the winners Stadio, ended in 16th place. Francesco Gabbani, a fan favourite with "Occidentali's Karma", earned a 6th place in 2017. The year after, although not initially a big favourite with the bookmakers, Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro returned Italy to the top 5 with "Non mi avete fatto niente", aided significantly by finishing third in the televote, which heavily counterbalanced the 17th place of the jury, finishing fifth overall. In 2019, Mahmood placed second with 472 points, Italy's best result since 2011, until Måneskin won the contest in 2021 with 524 points, 25 points ahead of runner-up France.

The video for "Occidentali's Karma" by Francesco Gabbani is the first Eurovision song to reach more than 200 million views on YouTube, while "Soldi" by Mahmood is the second most-streamed Eurovision song on Spotify.[12][13][14]

Italy's return and the "Big Five"Edit

Since 2000, four countries - the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain - have automatically qualified for the final of the Contest regardless of their positions on the scoreboard in previous contests.[15] They earned this status by being the four biggest financial contributors to the EBU. Owing to their untouchable status in the Contest, these countries became known as the "Big Four". Executive Supervisor of the Contest Svante Stockselius told reporters in a meeting with OGAE Serbia that, if Italy were to return to the contest in the future, the country would also qualify automatically for the finals, becoming part of a "Big Five".[16][17] However, with the official announcement of the return of Italy, it was not confirmed whether the country would compete in one of the two semi-finals or whether it would be part of the "Big Five", as RAI, third largest contributor to the EBU, had not applied to be a member of "Big Five".[18] On 31 December 2010, it was announced that Italy would take part in the 2011 contest and confirmed that the country would thereby automatically qualify for the final as part of the "Big Five".[2]


Table key
Second place
Third place
Last place
Entry selected but did not compete
Year Artist Title Language Place Points Semi Points
Franca Raimondi "Aprite le finestre" Italian 2[a] N/A No semi-finals
Tonina Torrielli "Amami se vuoi" Italian 2[a]
Nunzio Gallo "Corde della mia chitarra" Italian 6 7
Domenico Modugno "Nel blu, dipinto di blu" Italian 3 13
Domenico Modugno "Piove (Ciao, ciao bambina)" Italian 6 9
Renato Rascel "Romantica" Italian 8 5
Betty Curtis "Al di là" Italian 5 12
Claudio Villa "Addio, addio" Italian 9 3
Emilio Pericoli "Uno per tutte" Italian 3 37
Gigliola Cinquetti "Non ho l'età" Italian 1 49
Bobby Solo "Se piangi, se ridi" Italian 5 15
Domenico Modugno "Dio, come ti amo" Italian 17 ◁ 0
Claudio Villa "Non andare più lontano" Italian 11 4
Sergio Endrigo "Marianne" Italian 10 7
Iva Zanicchi "Due grosse lacrime bianche" Italian 13 5
Gianni Morandi "Occhi di ragazza" Italian 8 5
Massimo Ranieri "L'amore è un attimo" Italian 5 91
Nicola di Bari "I giorni dell'arcobaleno" Italian 6 92
Massimo Ranieri "Chi sarà con te" Italian 13 74
Gigliola Cinquetti "" Italian 2 18
Wess and Dori Ghezzi "Era" Italian 3 115
Al Bano & Romina Power "We'll Live It All Again" English, Italian 7 69
Mia Martini "Libera" Italian 13 33
Ricchi e Poveri "Questo amore" Italian 12 53
Matia Bazar "Raggio di luna" Italian 15 27
Alan Sorrenti "Non so che darei" Italian 6 87
Riccardo Fogli "Per Lucia" Italian 11 41
Alice & Battiato "I treni di Tozeur" Italian 5 70
Al Bano & Romina Power "Magic Oh Magic" Italian, English 7 78
Umberto Tozzi and Raf "Gente di mare" Italian 3 103
Luca Barbarossa "Vivo (Ti scrivo)" Italian 12 52
Anna Oxa and Fausto Leali "Avrei voluto" Italian 9 56
Toto Cutugno "Insieme: 1992" Italian 1 149
Peppino di Capri "Comme è ddoce 'o mare" Neapolitan 7 89
Mia Martini "Rapsodia" Italian 4 111
Enrico Ruggeri "Sole d'Europa" Italian 12 45 Kvalifikacija za Millstreet
Jalisse "Fiumi di parole" Italian 4 114 No semi-finals
Raphael Gualazzi "Madness of Love" Italian, English 2 189 Member of the "Big 5"
Nina Zilli "L'amore è femmina (Out of Love)" English, Italian 9 101
Marco Mengoni "L'essenziale" Italian 7 126
Emma "La mia città" Italian 21 33
Il Volo "Grande amore" Italian 3 292
Francesca Michielin "No Degree of Separation" Italian, English 16 124
Francesco Gabbani "Occidentali's Karma" Italian 6 334
Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro "Non mi avete fatto niente" Italian 5 308
Mahmood "Soldi" Italian[b] 2 472
Diodato "Fai rumore" Italian Contest cancelled[c] X
Måneskin "Zitti e buoni" Italian 1 524 Member of the "Big 5"

Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song ContestEdit

Artist Language Title At Congratulations At Eurovision
Final Points Semi Points Year Place Points
Domenico Modugno Italian "Nel blu, dipinto di blu" 2 267 2 200 1958 3 13


Year Location Venue Presenters
1965 Naples Auditorium RAI Renata Mauro
1991 Rome Teatro 15 di Cinecittà Gigliola Cinquetti and Toto Cutugno
2022[19] TBD TBD TBD


Marcel Bezençon AwardsEdit

Year Category Song Performer Final Points Host city Ref.
2015 Press Award "Grande amore" Il Volo 3 292   Vienna
2017 Press Award "Occidentali's Karma" Francesco Gabbani 6 334   Kyiv
2019 Composer Award "Soldi" Mahmood 2 465   Tel Aviv

Winner by OGAE membersEdit

Year Song Performer Final
Points Host city Ref.
2015 "Grande amore" Il Volo 3 292   Vienna
2017 "Occidentali's Karma" Francesco Gabbani 6 334   Kyiv
2019 "Soldi" Mahmood 2 465   Tel Aviv

Related involvementEdit


Year Sanremo Conductor[d] Eurovision Conductor Musical Director Notes Ref.
1956 Gian Stellari N/A [26]
1957 Armando Trovajoli
1958     Alberto Semprini
1959 William Galassini [it]
1960 Cinico Angelini [it]
1961 Gianfranco Intra
1962 Cinico Angelini
1963 Gigi Chichellero [it]
1964 Gianfranco Monaldi [it]
1965 Gianni Marchetti Gianni Ferrio [e]
1966 Unknown Angelo Giacomazzi [it] N/A [f]
1967 N/A Giancarlo Chiaramello
1969 Ezio Leoni
1970 Mario Capuano [it] [27]
1971 Enrico Polito [it]
1972 Gian Franco Reverberi
1973 N/A Enrico Polito
1974 Gianfranco Monaldi
1975 Natale Massara [it]
1976 Maurizio Fabrizio
1978 Nicola Samale
1979 No conductor [g]
1980   Del Newman [28]
1983 Maurizio Fabrizio
1984 Giusto Pio
1985 Fiorenzo Zanotti
1987 Gianfranco Lombardi
1988 No conductor [h]
1989 Mario Natale
1990 Gianni Madonini
1991 Bruno Canfora
1992 Marco Falagiani N/A
1993 Vittorio Cosma
1997 Lucio Fabbri
2011 Ferdinando Arnò No orchestra
2012 N/A[i]
2013 Fabio Gurian
2014 N/A [j]
2015 Carolina Bubbico [it]
2016 Giuseppe Vessicchio
2017 Luca Chiaravalli [it]
2018 Diego Calvetti [it]
2019 Dario Faini
2020 Rodrigo D'Erasmo [it] [k]
2021 Enrico Melozzi

Heads of delegationEdit

Year Head of delegation Ref.
2011–2019 Nicola Caligiore
2020– Simona Martorelli

Commentators and spokespersonsEdit

Year Final commentator Semi-final commentator Spokesperson Ref.
1956 Bianca Maria Piccinino No semi-finals No spokesperson
1957 Nunzio Filogamo
1958 Fulvia Colombo
1959 Enzo Tortora
1960 Giorgio Porro
1961 Corrado Mantoni
1962 Renato Tagliani
1964 Rosanna Vaudetti
1965 Daniele Piombi
1966 Enzo Tortora
1967 Mike Bongiorno
1970 Enzo Tortora
1971 No spokesperson
1974 Rosanna Vaudetti Anna Maria Gambineri
1975 Silvio Noto
1976 Rosanna Vaudetti
1977 Mariolina Cannuli
1978 Rosanna Vaudetti
1979 Paola Perissi
1980 Michele Gammino Mariolina Cannuli
19811982 No broadcast Did not participate
1983 Paolo Frajese No semi-finals Paola Perissi
1984 Antonio De Robertis Mariolina Cannuli
1985 Rosanna Vaudetti Beatrice Cori
1986 No broadcast Did not participate
1987 Rosanna Vaudetti No semi-finals Mariolina Cannuli
1988 Daniele Piombi
1989 Gabriella Carlucci Peppi Franzelin
1990 Peppi Franzelin Paolo Frajese
1991 No commentator Rosanna Vaudetti
1992 Peppi Franzelin Nicoletta Orsomando
1993 Ettore Andenna Ettore Andenna Peppi Franzelin
19941996 No broadcast Did not participate
1997 Ettore Andenna No semi-finals Peppi Franzelin
19982002 No broadcast Did not participate
2003 Fabio Canino and Paolo Quilici No semi-finals
20042010 No broadcast
2011 Raffaella Carrà and Bob Sinclar Raffaella Carrà Raffaella Carrà
2012 Filippo Solibello and Marco Ardemagni Federica Gentile Ivan Bacchi
2013 Filippo Solibello, Marco Ardemagni and Natasha Lusenti Federica Gentile
2014 Linus and Nicola Savino Marco Ardemagni and Filippo Solibello Linus
2015 Federico Russo and Valentina Correani (TV)
Marco Ardemagni and Filippo Solibello (Radio)
Federico Russo
2016 Flavio Insinna and Federico Russo Claudia Andreatti
2017 Andrea Delogu and Diego Passoni Giulia Valentina
2018 Serena Rossi and Federico Russo (TV)
Carolina Di Domenico and Ema Stokholma (Radio)
Carolina Di Domenico and Saverio Raimondo
2019 Flavio Insinna and Federico Russo (TV)
Ema Stokholma and Gino Castaldo (Radio)
Federico Russo and Ema Stokholma Ema Stokholma
2021 Gabriele Corsi and Cristiano Malgioglio (TV)
Ema Stokholma and Gino Castaldo (Radio)
Ema Stokholma and Saverio Raimondo Carolina Di Domenico

Other showsEdit

Show Commentator Channel Ref.
Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light Flavio Insinna, Federico Russo Rai 1
Gino Castaldo, Ema Stockholma Rai 4
Rai Radio 2


See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit


  1. ^ a b The full results for the first contest in 1956 are unknown, only the winner was announced. The official Eurovision site lists all the other songs as being placed second.
  2. ^ Contains phrases in Arabic.
  3. ^ The 2020 contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. ^ All conductors are of Italian nationality unless otherwise noted.
  5. ^ Ferrio also conducted the Austrian and Irish entries
  6. ^ Giacomazzi was originally brought in to conduct the Italian entry, but the Luxembourgish orchestra didn't perform it to singer Domenico Modugno's satisfaction. The Italian performance was then accompanied by a small ensemble of musicians, with Giacomazzi playing piano. Therefore, the Italian entry didn't technically feature the orchestra, but Giacomazzi was still credited as the entry's conductor.
  7. ^ The Italian entry was performed without orchestral accompaniment.
  8. ^ The Italian entry was performed without orchestral accompaniment.
  9. ^ The Italian entrant was chosen from the competitors of the 2012 Sanremo Music Festival; the selected entrant, Nina Zilli, competed at Sanremo with "Per sempre," conducted by Giuseppe Vessicchio [it]. Her chosen entry, "L'amore è femmina," was not a Sanremo entry.
  10. ^ The Italian entry was determined through an internal selection.
  11. ^ Although Diodato accepted RAI's invitation to represent Italy at the 2020 contest, it was subsequently canceled due to COVID-19.


  1. ^ "Sanremo - the festival that inspired Eurovision". 8 February 2017. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Bakker, Sietse (31 December 2010). "43 nations on 2011 participants list". Retrieved 31 December 2010.
  3. ^ "History - Eurovision Song Contest 1981". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 17 September 2008.
  4. ^ "Italy - Eurovsion Song Contest". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  5. ^ "Sì - lyrics - Diggiloo Thrush". Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  6. ^ Kasapoglou, Yiorgos (7 March 2008). "Italy: Maestro Tempera calls Italy back to Eurovision". ESCToday. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
  7. ^ Bakker, Sietse (16 June 2008). "Cutugno: "Italy's absence unfortunate"". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
  8. ^ Hondal, Víctor (19 September 2008). "Italy: Eurovision stars guests on Rai Uno". ESCToday. Retrieved 20 September 2008.
  9. ^ Siim, Jarmo (17 September 2008). "Eurovision stars going to Italy!". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 20 September 2008.
  10. ^ floras, stella (13 January 2009). "EBU working for Eurovision full house in 2010". ESCTodayaccessdate=30 July 2009.
  11. ^ Bakker, Sietse (2 December 2010). "Italy applied for 2011 Eurovision Song Contest!". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  12. ^ "Occidentali's Karma hits 200 million views on Youtube!". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Italy: Mahmood's "Soldi" is now the most-streamed Eurovision song on Spotify". Wiwibloggs. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  14. ^ ""Arcade" passes "Soldi" as the most-streamed Eurovision entry on Spotify". 29 January 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  15. ^ O'Connor, John Kennedy (2005). The Eurovision Song Contest 50 Years The Official History. London: Carlton Books Limited. ISBN 1-84442-586-X.
  16. ^ "Svante Stockselius meets members of OGAE Serbia". Oikotimes. 22 June 2007. Archived from the original on 12 February 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2009.
  17. ^ Fulton, Rick (14 May 2007). "The East V West Song Contest". Daily Record. Retrieved 24 May 2009.
  18. ^ "Italy made no motion for Big 5 membership yet". Oikotimes. 3 December 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2010.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Golightly, Thomas (23 May 2021). "🇮🇹 Italy: Milan, Bologna and Pesaro Express Interest in Hosting 2022 Eurovision Song Contest". Eurovoix. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Winners of the Marcel Bezençon Awards 2015". 25 May 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  21. ^ "Winners of the Marcel Bezençon Awards 2017". 14 May 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Here are the winners of the 2019 Marcel Bezençon Awards". 18 May 2019. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  23. ^ Cobb, Ryan (21 April 2017). "Analysing ten years of OGAE voting: "Underneath the fan favourite bias is a worthwhile indicator"". Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  24. ^ Gallagher, Robyn (30 April 2017). "OGAE Poll 2017 final results: Italy confirmed as winner, Belgium second, Sweden third". Wiwibloggs. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  25. ^ Herbert, Emily (30 April 2019). "Eurovision 2019: Italy Wins OGAE Poll 2019". Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  26. ^ Roxburgh, Gordon (2012). Songs for Europe: The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. Volume One: The 1950s and 1960s. Prestatyn: Telos Publishing. pp. 93–101. ISBN 978-1-84583-065-6. |volume= has extra text (help)
  27. ^ Roxburgh, Gordon (2014). Songs for Europe: The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. Volume Two: The 1970s. Prestatyn: Telos Publishing. pp. 142–168. ISBN 978-1-84583-093-9. |volume= has extra text (help)
  28. ^ Roxburgh, Gordon (2016). Songs for Europe: The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. Volume Three: The 1980s. Prestatyn: Telos Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84583-118-9. |volume= has extra text (help)
  29. ^ Granger, Anthony (10 November 2019). "Italy: Nicola Caligiore to Step Down as Head of Delegation". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  30. ^ Granger, Anthony (14 May 2020). "Italy: Simona Martorelli Named as New Head of Delegation". Eurovoix. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  31. ^ "Enrico Ruggeri Sole d'Europa Eurofestival 1993". 26 October 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  32. ^ "Natascha Lusenti affiancherà Ardemagni-Solibello nel commento all'Eurovision 2013" (in Italian). 5 April 2013. Archived from the original on 19 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  33. ^ Gordon Roxburgh (18 May 2013). "Good evening Malmö - Voting order revealed". European Broadcasting Union. Archived from the original on 19 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  34. ^ (pagina 14)
  35. ^
  36. ^ a b "Eurovision, Europe Shine a Light: il 16 maggio alle 20.35 su Rai1, Radio2 e RaiPlay" [Eurovision, Europe Shine a Light: on 16 May at 20:35 on Rai1, Radio2 and RaiPlay]. 10 April 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.

External linksEdit