La Banda- The Italian Wind Bands Tradition.

Now Wind bands may not exactly be hip but they certainly get the toes tapping and lift the spirits and are the perfect open air Orchestra. Italy is the country of opera and song and we even sing about ice creams! Italians are naturally musical and the Banda (wind band) tradition has been around for more than 150 years. The Banda brought the tunes of the Italian opera to the streets and piazzas in towns and cities and the tradition even extended to remote villages.  Puccini was after all the top of the hit parade for his generation. The tunes where often taken down second hand but the stirring interpretations spread huge national pride. Like in most other parts of the world wind bands where made up of the folk for the folk and they also acted and still do as training grounds for young musicians.

My sentimental side loves to see rural bands with grandfather playing alongside grandchildren just like in those 1950 movies about La Dolce Vita. Italian bands also keep the folk tradition alive and over the years they have become an essential part of religious processions especially during holy week and local saint day celebrations. Band music for some reason is very positive and crosses musical boundaries from jazz to pop. The spectacle of a local band in their polyester uniforms with polished brass buttons and plumes, which often look more like feather dusters only add to the charm.

There also now seems to be a penchant for having majorettes twirling their batons marching with the band. This must make the village banda the perfect place for teenage dating!

flickr- Daniele Nicolucci

My favourite Military Wind Band are Bersaglieri troops, the 'Fanfara', who are trained to play while running, imagine how fit they must be and their helmets are quite a fashion statement with their shiny black feathers. 

I have heard these bands described as corny but they always make my spine tingle and uplift my spirit so perhaps it was the perfect choice to have the band play for the inauguration of the Puccini Museum and bring opera in the traditional way to all the citizens  of Lucca in the piazza below his family apartment.


  1. A lovely post Celia. I love the bands and drum majorettes all part of the Italians love of tradition.

  2. I am glad you to like the bands, Lindy. I was talking to a fellow dinner guest last night from the south of Italy and he suddenly relised how important the village band had been in his childhood.

  3. I love the Bersaglieri! I saw them in Australia years ago and have come across them a couple of times in Italy. I photographed a lovely old fellow in his hat at the 150 anniversary celebrations in Bagni di Lucca earlier this year.
    I love these traditions in Italy, even if they are modernized with twirlers.


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