Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest

Member stationRAI
National selection events
Participation summary
First appearance1956
Best result1st: 1964, 1990
Worst resultLast: 1966
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 2019

Italy has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 45 times since making its debut at the first contest in 1956. It was one of the seven countries that competed at the first contest. Italy competed at the contest frequently until 1997. After a 14-year absence, the country returned to the contest in 2011. Italy has won the contest twice.

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. 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 "Si", 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.[1] Italy's return to the contest has proved to be successful, finishing in the top ten in seven of the last nine contests (2011–19), including second places for Raphael Gualazzi (2011) and Mahmood in (2019), and Il Volo finishing third in 2015. Il Volo won the televoting, receiving votes from all countries, but the juries placed them sixth. 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Italy has withdrawn from the Eurovision Song Contest a number of times.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.[2] 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. 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.

None of the Eurovision winning songs were particularly successful in the Italian charts. "Non ho l'eta" 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. A notable exception to this rule was, 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.[3]

TV censorship of the Eurovision Song Contest 1974[edit]

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 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.

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.[4][5]

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."[6][7]

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.[8]

Successful return to the contest[edit]

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.[9] Their participation was further confirmed on 31 December with the announcement of the official participant list.[1]

Italy's return to the contest after a 14-year absence has been successful, finishing in the top ten in seven of the last nine contests (2011–19). In 2011, Raphael Gualazzi finished second, Italy's best result since 1990. Italy actually came first with the jury vote, but only 11th in the televote to place second overall behind winners Azerbaijan. Nina Zilli in 2012 and Marco Mengoni in 2013 were able to achieve a top 10 position (9th and 7th respectively). This trend had a stop when Emma Marrone, selected internally, ended in 21st place, worst position ever of an Italian entry. In 2015, winners of Sanremo 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 bookies, 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 465 points, Italy's best result since 2011.

Italy 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.[10] 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".[11][12] 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".[13] On December 31, it was announced that Italy would take part in of the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 and confirmed that the country would thereby automatically qualify for the final in Germany as part of the "Big Five".[1]


Table key
Second place
Third place
Last place
Year Artist Language Title Place Points Semi Points
1956 Franca Raimondi Italian "Aprite le finestre" 2[a] N/A No semi-finals
Tonina Torrielli Italian "Amami se vuoi" 2[a] N/A
1957 Nunzio Gallo Italian "Corde della mia chitarra" 6 7
1958 Domenico Modugno Italian "Nel blu, dipinto di blu" 3 13
1959 Domenico Modugno Italian "Piove (Ciao, ciao bambina)" 6 9
1960 Renato Rascel Italian "Romantica" 8 5
1961 Betty Curtis Italian "Al di là" 5 12
1962 Claudio Villa Italian "Addio, addio" 9 3
1963 Emilio Pericoli Italian "Uno per tutte" 3 37
1964 Gigliola Cinquetti Italian "Non ho l'età" 1 49
1965 Bobby Solo Italian "Se piangi, se ridi" 5 15
1966 Domenico Modugno Italian "Dio, come ti amo" 17 0
1967 Claudio Villa Italian "Non andare più lontano" 11 4
1968 Sergio Endrigo Italian "Marianne" 10 7
1969 Iva Zanicchi Italian "Due grosse lacrime bianche" 13 5
1970 Gianni Morandi Italian "Occhi di ragazza" 8 5
1971 Massimo Ranieri Italian "L'amore è un attimo" 5 91
1972 Nicola di Bari Italian "I giorni dell'arcobaleno" 6 92
1973 Massimo Ranieri Italian "Chi sarà con te" 13 74
1974 Gigliola Cinquetti Italian "" 2 18
1975 Wess and Dori Ghezzi Italian "Era" 3 115
1976 Al Bano & Romina Power English, Italian "We'll Live It All Again" 7 69
1977 Mia Martini Italian "Libera" 13 33
1978 Ricchi e Poveri Italian "Questo amore" 12 53
1979 Matia Bazar Italian "Raggio di luna" 15 27
1980 Alan Sorrenti Italian "Non so che darei" 6 87
Did not participate between 1981 and 1982
1983 Riccardo Fogli Italian "Per Lucia" 11 41 No semi-finals
1984 Alice & Battiato Italian "I treni di Tozeur" 5 70
1985 Al Bano & Romina Power Italian, English "Magic Oh Magic" 7 78
1986 Did not participate
1987 Umberto Tozzi and Raf Italian "Gente di mare" 3 103 No semi-finals
1988 Luca Barbarossa Italian "Vivo (Ti scrivo)" 12 52
1989 Anna Oxa and Fausto Leali Italian "Avrei voluto" 9 56
1990 Toto Cutugno Italian "Insieme: 1992" 1 149
1991 Peppino di Capri Neapolitan "Comme è ddoce 'o mare" 7 89
1992 Mia Martini Italian "Rapsodia" 4 111
1993 Enrico Ruggeri Italian "Sole d'Europa" 12 45 Kvalifikacija za Millstreet
Did not participate between 1994 and 1996
1997 Jalisse Italian "Fiumi di parole" 4 114 No semi-finals
Did not participate between 1998 and 2010
2011 Raphael Gualazzi Italian, English "Madness of Love" 2 189 Member of the "Big 5"
2012 Nina Zilli English, Italian "L'amore è femmina (Out of Love)" 9 101
2013 Marco Mengoni Italian "L'essenziale" 7 126
2014 Emma Italian "La mia città" 21 33
2015 Il Volo Italian "Grande amore" 3 292
2016 Francesca Michielin Italian, English "No Degree of Separation" 16 124
2017 Francesco Gabbani Italian "Occidentali's Karma" 6 334
2018 Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro Italian "Non mi avete fatto niente" 5 308
2019 Mahmood Italian[b] "Soldi" 2 472
1. Italy has never competed in the semi-finals as it did not participate in 1996 (when all countries save for the previous year's winner had to go through a pre-selection jury) and has been a part of the "Big 5" since it rejoined the contest in 2011.
2. No semi-finals until 2004; Italy did not participate until 2011.

Voting history[edit]

As of 2019, Italy's voting history is as follows:


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

Marcel Bezençon Awards[edit]

Press Award

Year Song Performer Final Result Points Host city
2015 "Grande amore" Il Volo 3rd 292 Vienna
2017 "Occidentali's Karma" Francesco Gabbani 6th 334 Kiev

Composer Award

Year Song Performer Final Result Points Host city
2019 "Soldi" Mahmood 2nd 465 Tel Aviv

Winners by OGAE members[edit]

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

Commentators and spokespersons[edit]

Year(s) Final Commentator Spokesperson Semi-Final Commentator Spokesperson Background
1956 Bianca Maria Piccinino No Spokesperson No Semi-Final Spokesperson did not present visually until 1994
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 N/A
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 Paola Perissi
1984 Antonio De Robertis Mariolina Cannuli
1985 Rosanna Vaudetti Beatrice Cori
1986 No broadcast Did not participate
1987 Rosanna Vaudetti 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 Peppi Franzelin
19941996 No broadcast Did not participate Did not participate
1997 Ettore Andenna Peppi Franzelin RAI Studios, Rome
19982002 No broadcast Did not participate Did not participate
2003 Fabio Canino and Paolo Quilici
2004-2010 No broadcast
2011 Raffaella Carrà and Bob Sinclar Raffaella Carrà Raffaella Carrà St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
2012 Filippo Solibello and Marco Ardemagni Ivan Bacchi Federica Gentile Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome
2013 Filippo Solibello, Marco Ardemagni and Natasha Lusenti[14] Federica Gentile[15] Colosseum, Rome
2014 Linus and Nicola Savino Linus Marco Ardemagni and Filippo Solibello Trevi Fountain, Rome
2015 Federico Russo and Valentina Correani (TV)
Marco Ardemagni and Filippo Solibello (Radio)
Federico Russo Milan Cathedral, Milan
2016 Flavio Insinna and Federico Russo Claudia Andreatti Colosseum, Rome
2017 Giulia Valentina Andrea Delogu and Diego Passoni
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)
Ema Stokholma[16] Federico Russo and Ema Stokholma


All conductors are Italian except with a flag.

  • Alberto Semprini is half British-Italian.
  • Angelo Giacomazzi did not actually conduct the orchestra but played the piano on stage during Domenico Modugno's performance. Along with Giacomazzi, he was accompanied by a small combo of Italian musicians.
  • The Italian entry was performed without orchestral accompaniment in 1979 and 1988.[17]

Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest[edit]

Table key
  Second place
  Third place
  Last place
Year Artist Language Title Final Points Semi Points Place (1958) Points (1958)
1958 Domenico Modugno Italian "Nel blu, dipinto di blu" 2 267 2 200 3 13


See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  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.


  1. ^ a b c Bakker, Sietse (2010-12-31). "43 nations on 2011 participants list". Retrieved 31 December 2010.
  2. ^ "History - Eurovision Song Contest 1981". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  3. ^ Hit Parade Italia, chart entry "I Treni di Tozeur"
  4. ^ Kasapoglou, Yiorgos (7 March 2008). "Italy: Maestro Tempera calls Italy back to Eurovision". ESCToday. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
  5. ^ Bakker, Sietse (16 June 2008). "Cutugno: "Italy's absence unfortunate"". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
  6. ^ Hondal, Víctor (19 September 2008). "Italy: Eurovision stars guests on Rai Uno". ESCToday. Retrieved 20 September 2008.
  7. ^ Siim, Jarmo (17 September 2008). "Eurovision stars going to Italy!". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 20 September 2008.
  8. ^ floras, stella (13 January 2009). "EBU working for Eurovision full house in 2010". ESCTodayaccessdate=30 July 2009.
  9. ^ Bakker, Sietse (2 December 2010). "Italy applied for 2011 Eurovision Song Contest!". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  10. ^ O'Connor, John Kennedy (2005). The Eurovision Song Contest 50 Years The Official History. London: Carlton Books Limited. ISBN 1-84442-586-X.
  11. ^ "Svante Stockselius meets members of OGAE Serbia". Oikotimes. 2007-06-22. Archived from the original on 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  12. ^ Fulton, Rick (2007-05-14). "The East V West Song Contest". Daily Record. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  13. ^ "Italy made no motion for Big 5 membership yet". Oikotimes. 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2010-12-03.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ (pagina 14)
  17. ^

External links[edit]