Mediterranean Music – Western Italy, Rome, Florence and Naples



Frankly, I had expected more

I had expected more bands and musicians, more interesting, more adventurous.  Just more. Not that what I found was bad; a lot of it is better than very good – but I could have done with … you know … more. Our journey now brings us to one of the cultural capitals of Europe, that part of Italy that encompasses two great historical centres – Rome and Naples. Florence is there, too. Is it not normal to expect more?

Perhaps I was looking in the wrong places. Perhaps with an expert guide I would have found more. This is, of course, an imaginary trip. Google and Bing Search, Google Maps, Spotify, YouTube and Ethnocloud are the tools. So, if you can suggest other music, I want to hear about it.

On reflection, the playlist is good

Here’s some of what I discovered:

Avion Travel, Bandabardo, Canzoniere Del Lazio, Daniele Sepe, E Zezi Gruppo Operaio, 
Eugenio Bennato, Fedrico Salvatore, Mauro Pagani, Napoli Centrale, Nuova Compagnia Di Canto Popolare, Orchestra Di Piazza Vittorio, Tartaglia Aneuro, Teresa De Sio, and
Valentina Stella.

I think the sense of “not quite enough” emerges from the other music I have discovered from other places. My search has turned up music from all over Italy. From that I sub-divide into region. There was so little in Rome, I extended the area to include Naples then Florence. But during my search I discovered music from the south of the country – from the to toe of the boot to the tip of the long heel – music I will discuss next time.

There are some outstanding musicians in this Rome/Naples region

A late entry and unquestionably one to head the list is Serena Della Monica as a musician and a musical director for Le Ninfe della Tammorra 

I discovered their ork long after writing this post and they are now firm favourites, not just in Italy, but in this whole journey.

There are others too and I will leave you to discover them yourself. The playlist is open to anyone to add to, so if you find more ethno/world music in the Naples/Rome area, please add or let me know.



The Books

I have been reading, too. Some wonderful books.

Among the best books I have read so far on this trip is The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano. It’s not set in Rome or Naples. From the description I’m guessing its Turin. But the setting is of no matter. “Beautiful” and “haunting” are the words normally used to describe this book, and I agree (here’s a proper review).

The novella God’s Mountain by Erri De Luca (review) is set in a maze of alleyways in Montedidio a Naples slum in the 1960s. More a magic fantasy in parts, it is a secret diary of a young boy and like Solitude of Prime Numbers something of a coming of age story.

I have read 66 pages of Voices by Dacia Maraini and have given it up. A radio reporter in Rome, a murdered neighbour and a whodunnit. I should enjoy that. You can find the building where the murder took place on Google Maps – a very pretty place it is too. The radio station is real, too. But has the author ever been in a radio station? Has the author any idea how radio works? That was frustrating but forgivable. What I did not enjoy is story told in present tense. And the truly awful stilted dialogue of the characters. Is it the author, is it the translation? No one speaks like that. Although there is a nice simple recipe for cheese and lemon spaghetti. Who knew it was so easy? Anyway, here is a more sympathetic review.


Exploring the music of the Mediterranean (introduction) – 

Then we travel to these regions and countries. 

Gibraltar – Andalusia (or Andalucía) – Murcia – Valencia – Catalonia –  France Monaco – Italy’s North West – Western Italy – Italy – Toe to heel – Slovenia Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Montenegro – AlbaniaGreece – TurkeySyriaLebanonIsraelPalestineEgyptLibyaTunisiaAlgeriaMorocco

Of course, now as I head off to southern Italy, I realise I should have been reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novel Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (reviewcurrently being serialised on BBC Radio 4

And thanks BBC Radio 4 iPlayer for this programme.

Time to head south past Pompeii, past Solerno. To where people dance the tarantella.

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