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Fiorentina 101: La Canzone viola

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All together now: O, Fiorentina, di ogni squadra ti vogliam regina!

ACF Fiorentina v Frosinone Calcio - Serie A
Play it again, Sam.
Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

After looking back on the founding and very early years of Fiorentina recently, we’re going to take a dive into one of the best parts of the club: the song that everyone knows. Or rather, the first line of the chorus of the song of everyone knows (and maybe we’ll hit the rest of the anthem as well). That’s right, folks, it’s time to dive into the history of “la Canzone viola,” popularly known as “O, Fiorentina.”

The Viola earned promotion back to the top tier of Italian football for Serie A’s inaugural season, despite their relegation to the second level two years before following a truly dismal campaign (last place, 23 losses in 30 matches, 23 goals scored to 96 conceded, an 11-0 loss to Juventus). Chairman (and prominent Fascist Party member) Luigi Ridolfi’s plan was to advance his political agenda through sport (thank goodness that’s not still happening anywhere ever) and that required, among other things, a passionate and unified fan base that could give the home team a boost and intimidate the visitors with their fervor.

While the level of Ridolfi’s involvement is lost to the ceaseless passage of time, it’s hard to believe that he didn’t commission or strongly recommend—possibly with the full force of the local Fascist authorities—a new song. The music itself, though, was composed by Marco Vinicio, with the lyrics penned by Enzo Marcacci, as attested by Lorenzo’s dad (whose knowledge of all things Viola is beyond reproach).

Vinicio hasn’t got any records I can find online, although weirdly enough there is a prominent classical guitarist named Marco Vinicio Carnicelli who seems to be no relation. Marcacci, however, only passed away a few years ago in Florence, so there’s a bit more information on him. He wrote numerous songs over the years, but this seems to be his first one, and with good reason: if my math is correct (he was 97 when he died in 2016), he couldn’t have been more than 13 years old when he came up with the words; either he was an extraordinarily precocious youth or he had a bit of help behind the scenes.

It is worth noting, too, that the Museo Fiorentina’s article about the Canzone Viola (accessible via the Wayback Machine) mentions Marcello Manni as the lyricist. Manni was a journalist and songwriter, most famous for writing the words for the Fascist party’s anthem (yes, there is Fascism throughout the early history of Fiorentina, which really sucks). In fact, you’ll notice his name at the bottom right in the picture below; however, given that he was a publisher and thus had a printing press, it’s possible that the credit there isn’t for writing, but simply for publishing, although he may have given the young Marcacci a hand with some of the words as well.

The first known printing of la Canzone viola, 22 November 1931.
Wikimedia Italia

Whatever the precise provenance of the song, though, it made its first known public appearance on 22 November 1931, when the Ordine del’Marzocco, the first Viola supporter group, printed and distributed copies of the song to supporters ahead of a home game against AS Roma; the hosts triumphed 3-1 despite a 5th minute goal from ex-Viola striker Rudolfo Volk as Raffaele Rivalo, Gastone Prendato, and Pedro Petrone all scored for the good guys. Such an auspicious match against a high-flying opponent meant that the new anthem immediately became an institution at the brand-new Stadio Giovanni Berta.

The famous recording that plays over the Franchi speakers at every game was recorded in 1974 by the great Narciso Parigi, although he also did versions in 1959 and 1965. Weirdly enough, the 1965 version was recorded with a live background chorus of professional footballers. And who were these players? Were they the Viola stars of the day? Reader, they were not. It was, in fact, the Inter Milan squad that Parigi taped, partly because he was recording in Milan at the time and partly (we like to think) because long-time Fiorentina stalwart Egisto Pandolfini was playing with the Nerazzurri at the time and convinced his mates to join him in supporting the club he loved.

La Canzone viola

Garrisca al vento il labaro viola
sui campi della sfida e del valore;
una speranza viva ci consola:
abbiamo undici atleti e un solo cuore!

O Fiorentina,
di ogni squadra ti vogliam regina!
O Fiorentina, combatti ovunque ardita e con valor!
Nell’ora di sconforto e di vittoria,
ricorda che del calcio è tua la storia!

Maglia viola lotta con vigore,
per esser di Firenze vanto e gloria
Sul tuo vessillo scrivi: forza e cuore,
e nostra sarà sempre la vittoria!

O Fiorentina, di ogni squadra ti vogliam regina!
O Fiorentina, combatti ovunque ardita e con valor!
Nell’ora di sconforto e di vittoria,
ricorda che del calcio è tua la storia!

Forza Fiorentina!
Alè alè viola!

(lyrics per Museo Fiorentina)