I don't speak Italian, and my knowledge of Italian is limited to the amount I have learned through being a musician (so, mostly single words, with little grammatical context, I'm afraid!)

I have been asked to transcribe sheet music for the following song:


I have also been given the following text for the song's lyrics:

Firenze bella,
quando riposi placida e tranquilla,
il Campanil di Giotto è sentinella
e in ogni cuore accendi una scintilla.

Oggi per te, oh Firenze, col mio cantare,
come cantava il paggio sotto i veroni,
non vuoi sentir le musiche d’oltre mare
ma vuoi sentir soltanto le tue canzoni.

Oggi ritorni serra di mille fiori
mentre Boccaccio narra gli antichi amori.

Fior di verbena,
l’arco dell’ar l’è tutta porporina,
il menestrello canta la sua pena
a una bella madonna fiorentina.

Mentre lontano muoion le serenate
e la Maremma è tutta colori e fiori,
cantano ancor le rondini innamorate
e con i fiori sbocciano mille amori.

Fiesole si ridesta col primo sole
ma non si spegne l’eco delle mandole.

Oh Fiorentina,
è la tua bocca una sorgente arcana
cinta da una collana alabastrina,
sono assetato e cerco una fontana.

Firenze bella!

I have been using online sources to help with checking spelling and how to hyphenate the syllables, but I am not able to find some of the words. I just wondered if there is any non-standard Italian in here.

I will be asking Italian speaking colleagues to check through what I've done, but I wanted to be proactive, and try to work out as much as I can myself first.

  • 1
    Besides the correctness of the spelling, about which you already got an answer, I'd add that most of the text rhymes and begs to be divided in lines. For instance: «Firenze bella, / quando riposi placida e tranquilla, / il Campanil di Giotto è sentinella / e in ogni cuore accendi una scintilla». Do you want me to do it for you? Do you want to try for yourself?
    – DaG
    Apr 16 '17 at 11:37
  • Hi DaG. My mistake - I copied this text in a hurry - it is already split into lines. I'll amend, with any future readers in mind. Apr 16 '17 at 11:39
  • 3
    For anybody who's interested, I posted this related question on Music.SE (as I know posting the same question on different SE sites is frowned upon...) music.stackexchange.com/q/56334/9198 Apr 16 '17 at 12:34
  • 3
    @BobBroadley In case you are interested, the "blur" you refer in the related question is a standard feature of Italian phonology and it is called Synalepha.
    – Denis Nardin
    Apr 16 '17 at 14:21
  • I think I've learnt more today than any other day for years. Thank you! Apr 16 '17 at 14:37

It is standard Italian, although some passage are in a "poetic" language (uncommon word order, some truncations or archaisms).

The only word that's leaving me a little bit puzzled is ar, which could be a truncation of aria but which I don't think I've ever heard (in poetry the more archaic aer would sound more natural). Listening carefully to the song, it sounds like the singer is saying l'acqua dell'Arno instead of l'arco dell'ar, which would make a lot more sense (thanks to @DaG for pointing me on the right direction). All things considered, I think the lyrics you have are wrong, and that the singer is saying

l'acqua dell'Arno è tutta porporina,

If you are having difficulties with some words, please ask a separate question where we might be able to help you.

  • Thanks, Denis! Yes, "dell'ar" was causing me the most problems searching online - I just managed to find a lot of pages about Dell in Arkansas! Apr 16 '17 at 11:07
  • 1
    Listening to the song, it might just be “L'arco dell'Arno è tutto porporina”. What do you think, Denis?
    – DaG
    Apr 16 '17 at 11:40
  • 2
    @DaG Listening carefully it sounds like the singer is saying l'acqua dell'Arno è tutta porporina which would make much more sense. Do you agree with me?
    – Denis Nardin
    Apr 16 '17 at 11:51
  • Yes, I think you're right, Denis.
    – DaG
    Apr 16 '17 at 12:18
  • I agree with @Denis: listening to the video, it seems to me that the singer is saying l'acqua dell'Arno è tutta porporina.
    – Charo
    Apr 16 '17 at 14:31

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