Fabrizio De André

By Francesco Ciabattoni (Georgetown University) (Originally published 02 March 2019 as “Fabrizio De André”. The Literary Encyclopedia. https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=14134 This version has been modified and extended)

In the pantheon of Italian cantautori (singer-songwriters) Fabrizio De André could be compared to Prometheus, who gave humankind the gift of fire – a gift that ultimately enabled mankind to make art. Many cantautori since the 1960s have taken a spark from De André’s flame, as he had previously borrowed from Georges Brassens, Leonard Cohen, and other songwriters and poets, always innovating and producing, from their textual or melodic cells, new and original songs. His native port city of Genoa had a very active musical scene in the 1960s, and one could say that the Italian canzone d’autore was born there, in the filthy alleys behind this industrial port, almost a gate to the Mediterranean, as the city’s Latin etymology “janua” [door] suggests.

Fabrizio’s father, Giuseppe, graduated in the Humanities (Lettere e Filosofia) from the University of Turin, engaging in intellectual exchanges with Benedetto Croce (Viva 10). An anti-fascist activist under Mussolini’s regime and during World War II, he worked in Genoa as an educator, a politician (he was vice mayor of the Ligurian capital as a member of the Republican Party), a businessman (holding executive positions at the sugar producer Eridania and at the record company Karim, which produced Fabrizio’s first albums), and an editor (he became an editorial board member at newspapers such as Il Resto del Carlino and La Nazione). In 1942 Giuseppe decided to relocate his family to Revignano d’Asti, a small village in Piedmont, in order to mitigate the dire consequences of the war. Here, Fabrizio met people who became integral to his development and would later inspire such songs as “Ho visto Nina volare” [I saw Nina Fly] (1996). Although the De Andrés moved back to Genoa after the war, they continued to spend summers in the rural village for many years.

Fabrizio attended Catholic and public schools in the Ligurian capital with lackluster results, which was a source of great concern for both his father and his mother, Luisa Amerio. Fabrizio’s rebellious character and his undisciplined school performance (he enrolled first in Medicine, then Literature and finally in Law without ever achieving a degree) marred his relationship with his father for many years, until they finally reconciled after the traumatic experience of Fabrizio’s abduction in Sardinia. De André’s first musical forays occurred in 1958 with “Nuvole barocche” [Baroque Clouds] and “E fu la notte” [And Then It Was Night], but the first track of real success was “La ballata del Miché” [The Ballad of Miché], written in 1960 with Clelia Petracchi. In 1962 Fabrizio married Enrica Rignon, nicknamed Puny, who in the same year gave birth to Cristiano, now an esteemed singer-songwriter in his own right. The couple later separated, and in 1974 Fabrizio began a relationship with the singer Dori Ghezzi, who in 1977 gave birth to Luisa Vittoria, known as Luvi, who became a respected musician herself.

De André matured amidst several other Genoese songwriters who were a few years older than him and who likewise admired French literature. Although they all shared an air of the poète maudit, Fabrizio’s production distinguished itself from that of Gino Paoli (1934), Luigi Tenco (1938-1967), and Bruno Lauzi (1937-2006) with his trademarks: an anarchic bent applied to everyday stories, an overtly literary style of lyrics, and a sense of melancholic ennui in the spirit of Baudelaire’s Spleen. Among his favorite themes are lost loves, social injustice and the ordinary lives of the poor and the crooked (“La città vecchia” [The Old City] is a collage from Umberto Saba’s synonymous poem and Georges Brassens’ song “Le bistro”). Often accompanying himself on the guitar, the young De André would sing about crimes of passion by jealous lovers (“La ballata del Miché” [The Ballad of Miché]), disillusioned lovers (“Amore che vieni amore che vai” [Love that Comes, Love that Goes], “Canzone dell’amore perduto” [Song of a Lost Love]), prostitutes and victimized women in a patriarchal society (“Via del campo,” “Fila la lana” [Spin the Wool]), evil women and tragic affairs (“La ballata dell’amore cieco” [Ballad of a Blind Love], which rewrites the medieval topos of the eaten heart); “Delitto di paese” [Small Town Crime], adapted from Brassens’ “L’assassinat” [The Murder]), and the grey areas at the margins of society (“Il fannullone” [The Slacker], lyrics by Paolo Villaggio). Some such themes, along with De André’s attention to lowlife and anti-bourgeois attitudes, are a legacy of his interest in French and French-language chansonniers such as Boris Vian, Jacques Brel, and George Brassens, as well as in his Genoese colleagues. De André’s fame among a larger audience began with the ballad “La canzone di Marinella” [The Song of Marinella], a fable about a woman who falls in love and pays with her life, thanks to the 1964 recording by Mina, who was already a star of Italian pop music.

One of De André’s most famous ballads is “Bocca di rosa”, a name evocative of many poems — from The Romance of the Rose to Dante, Shakespeare and Gertrude Stein — in which the rose is a symbol of the object of erotic desire, one that must be enjoyed while it is ripe. The ballad tells the story of a sexually uninhibited woman who moves to the small village of Sant’Ilario, today on the outskirts of Genoa, and serially seduces the village’s husbands. Their wives, quite unhappy with Bocca di rosa’s obvious transgressions, report her to the carabinieri (Italian military police force). She is then expelled from the community and escorted to the train station by “quattro gendarmi … con i pennacchi e con le armi” [four guards … with their plumes and their weapons]. The ironic conclusion is that, since the news of Bocca di rosa’s expulsion had spread, the men from the next village on the railway are already preparing to welcome her: they gather at the train station — “chi manda un bacio chi getta un fiore” [blowing kisses and throwing flowers] — with the blessing of village authorities. The song closes with a rare—for De André—smile when

Persino il parroco che non disprezza
fra un miserere e un’estrema unzione
il bene effimero della bellezza
la vuole accanto in processione.
E con la Vergine in prima fila
e Bocca di rosa poco lontano
si porta a spasso per il paese
l’amore sacro e l’amor profano.

[Even the priest who doesn’t despise,
between a miserere and the last rites,
the ephemeral gift of beauty,
wants her near him in the procession.
And with the Virgin at the front
and Bocca di rosa close by,
he leads through the village
love both sacred and profane!]

Such a liberated vision of love and scathing parody of Italian petite-bourgeoisie are typical of De André’s writing, and were made even more incisive during performances by his low voice and brazen cheekiness.

De André loved coauthoring and rewriting both lyrics and music. His collaboration with the poet Riccardo Mannerini yielded songs such as “Il cantico dei drogati” [Canticle of the Junkies] from Tutti morimmo a stento [We All Barely Died] (Bluebell Records, 1968), an album whose main theme is death and whose protagonists are exploited girls, marginalized individuals and victims of war: “noi che invochiam pietà siamo i drogati” [we, who plead for mercy, are the drug-addicts], “Recitativo”). “Le passanti” [The Passersby] is a cover of a song by Brassens, who had in turn set to music a 1918 poem by Antoine Pol (Ciabattoni 76). At the origin of the chain, however, is a poem by Charles Baudelaire: “À une passante” [To a Passerby] from Les Fleurs du mal, which De André certainly knew. In fact, from his earliest production, De André’s lyrics took inspiration from recognizable literary models such as Pierre de Ronsard and François Villon. “Valzer per un amore” [Waltz for my Love] is inspired by Ronsard’s “Quand vous serez bien vieille” [When You Are Old] and its musical motif is borrowed from Gino Marinuzzi’s “Valzer campestre” [Country Waltz], while “La ballata degli impiccati” [Ballad of the Hanged Men] is drawn from Villon’s “La ballade des pendus”. De André himself repeatedly declared such authors as Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, Raimbaut de Vaqueiras, Jaufré Rudel and Cecco Angiolieri to be among his favorites (Pistarini Sassi, 29, 111). In 1968 De André set to music Cecco’s famous anti-patriarchal, anti-paternal and caustic sonnet “S’io fosse foco arderei lo mondo” [If I Were Fire I Would Burn the World]. De André wrote many more songs in the style of (or inspired by) old ballads. “Geordie” is from a sixteenth-century ballad included in Francis James Child’s collection (English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 1882, folk ballad n. 209) which had already been adapted in a folk performance by Joan Baez (Joan Baez in Concert, Vanguard Records 1962). “Nell’acqua della chiara fontana” [In the Water of a Clear Fountain] revisits a medieval pastourelle (see the essays by La Via, Carrai, Guastella and Stella in Guastella and Marrucci and in Guastella and Pirillo).

Some of De André’s songs resulted from his profitable collaboration with the acclaimed songwriters Francesco De Gregori (“La cattiva strada” [The Wrong Path], “Canzone per l’estate” [Song for the Summer], “Oceano” and “Dolce luna” [Sweet Moon]) and Massimo Bubola (“Una storia sbagliata” [A Messed Up Story] [1980], “Rimini” [1978], and “Don Raffae’” [1990], the latter song referring to Raffaele Cutolo, boss of Nuova Camorra Organizzata, the new mafia organization that emerged in Naples in the 1980s). Other songs were covers of or adaptations from Leonard Cohen (“Suzanne”) or Bob Dylan (“Via della povertà,” from “Desolation Row,” also coauthored with De Gregori).

On the wave of the political and cultural revolutions of the 1960s —in Italy and abroad—many songs by De André conveyed messages of anticlericalism, antimilitarism, and anarchism that the changing Italian society longed to hear and consume. As he himself stated: “Ebbi ben presto abbastanza chiaro che il mio lavoro doveva camminare su due binari: l’ansia per una giustizia sociale che ancora non esiste, e l’illusione di poter partecipare in qualche modo a un cambiamento del mondo. La seconda si è sbriciolata ben presto, la prima rimane” [It was soon quite clear that my work was to tread on two paths: anxiety for a social justice that does not yet exist, and the illusion of being able to help in some way to change the world. The second path soon crumbled, but the first remains] (quoted in Romana). “Terzo intermezzo” [Third Intermezzo] (1968) offers a glimpse of De André’s pacifist feelings based on the crude observation of reality: “La polvere il sangue le mosche e l’odore / per strada fra i campi la gente che muore / e tu, tu la chiami guerra e non sai che cos’è” [The dust, the blood, the bugs and the smell / in the streets and the fields people are dying / and you, you call it war and don’t know what it is]. “Il testamento” (1966) mocks a set of bourgeois hypocritical figures in a bitterly irreverent tone. A dying man lists a number of gifts for the people who have been insincerely close to him:

Per quella candida vecchia contessa
che non si muove più dal mio letto
per estirparmi l’insana promessa
di riservarle i miei numeri al lotto
non vedo l’ora di andar fra i dannati
per riferirglieli tutti sbagliati.

[For that old white-haired countess
who won’t budge from my deathbed
in order to extort the foolish promise
to reveal the winning lottery numbers to her alone
I can’t wait to be among the damned
and give her all the wrong numbers]

La guerra di Piero” [Piero’s War] (1964) tells the story of a soldier whose hesitation to kill “un uomo in fondo alla valle / che aveva il tuo stesso identico umore / ma la divisa di un altro colore” [a man down in the valley, / who was in the very same mood as you, / but his uniform was a different color] costs him his life. Elements of this song come from a variety of subtexts including Rimbaud, Curzio Malaparte, Italo Calvino and John McCrae (Ciabattoni 83-89).

One of De André’s most famous LPs, Non al denaro non all’amore né al cielo [Not for Money Nor Love, Nor for the Sky] (Editori Associati 1971), is an adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. The epitaphs composing Masters’ anthology become musical jewels, lyrics in the voices of the forgotten and defeated, whose last words sum up the injustice but also the beauty of their existence. Once again, additional artists (Giuseppe Bentivoglio, Nicola Piovani) contributed to this album. De André based his adaptation of Masters’ poems on the writer Fernanda Pivano’s translation, often expanding and universalizing the lyrics. “Un blasfemo” [A Blasphemer] rewrites “Wendell P. Bloyd,” but does away with the protagonist’s name, bitterly denouncing the bigotry and cowardice of institutionalized power against a blasphemer: “non mi uccise la morte ma due guardie bigotte, mi cercarono l’anima a forza di botte” [It wasn’t death that killed me, but two bigoted guards, who sought my soul with the power of blows], Mark Worden translation).

If, on the one hand, De André harshly criticized the bigoted hypocrisy of Italian society, on the other, his songs are often filled with an authentic religiosity that emphasizes the human side of God. In his album La buona novella [The Good News] (Produttori Associati, 1970), a retelling of the lives of Jesus and Mary based on the apocryphal gospels, the cantautore introduces a subversively religious spirit which casts Jesus as “the greatest revolutionary in history” (Pistarini Sassi 116) who would hopefully “save Christianity from Catholicism” (Ansaldo 91).

De André’s lyrics are consistently drawn from real-life dramas of his time. In pre-abortion-law Italy, he wrote about pregnant young women who were rejected by their community (“Rimini” from the eponymous 1978 album). During the years of terrorism, he revisited Italian politics through the metaphor of Native Americans (“Coda di lupo” [Wolf Tail] 1978). In “Sally,” the story of a young woman who does not follow society’s rules, he alludes to illegal drugs and violence, mixing suggestions from Gabriel García Márquez and Alejandro Jodorowsky. The traumatic experience of being kidnapped with his wife Dori Ghezzi in 1979 by Sardinian bandits also found its way into his songwriting. After months of captivity Dori was released, followed by Fabrizio, who later elaborated on the experience in “Hotel Supramonte” (1981).

De André’s attacks on the bourgeois establishment and lifestyle appear evident in “Canzone del Maggio” [Song of May] (1973). The lyrics, an adaptation of Dominique Grange’s “Chacun de vous est concerné” [Each One of You is Involved], describe the student movement and protests from a radical standpoint:

Anche se avete chiuso
le vostre porte sul nostro muso
la notte che le pantere
ci mordevano il sedere
lasciandoci in buonafede
massacrare sul marciapiede
anche se ora ve ne fregate,
voi quella notte voi c’eravate.

[Even if you have slammed
your front doors in our faces
the night that the police cars
were on our heels
and you, in good faith, let us
be massacred on the street curbs.
Even though you don’t care now,
you were there that night.]

anche se ora ve ne fregate
voi quell giorno, voi c’eravate.

“Canzone del maggio” is part of Storia di un impiegato (1973) (see Ciabattoni 2021), in which De André tackles the difficult political subject of the “years of lead” and puts into song and in a concept album his view of the phenomenon, which would last, fraught with consequences, until the early ’80s.

De André also offered a mockery of capitalism and patriarchal family values in “Ottocento” [The 1800s] (1990), with the tones of a pseudo-German Lied.

De André’s nonconformism was not confined to his lyrics but was often expressed in his musical choices. In the dominating rock and pop styles of the late 1960s, the arrangements of Gian Piero Reverberi, with the use of classical orchestra instruments, added a non-conventional sound to his 1967 album Vol. 1 (Liperi 253). Nonetheless, he considered lyrics to be of paramount importance, declaring that “la canzone è un testo cantato, poi la musica può essere più o meno bella, tanto meglio se è bella, ma deve accordarsi soprattutto con il testo” [A song is sung lyrics, the tune can be more or less beautiful, better if beautiful, but it should above all suit the lyrics] (Fasoli 59).

De André also frequently resorted to singing in Italy’s various dialects: Neapolitan (“Don Raffae’” in Le nuvole, Ricordi Fonit-Cetra 1990), Sardinian (“Zirichiltaggia” [Lizard Liar], in Rimini, Ricordi, 1978), and the dialect of his native Genoa (Creuza de mä [Mule Track to the Sea], Ricordi 1984). His recourse to dialect was as much an expressive device as it was an ideological embrace of the language and issues of the weak and less powerful. De André always wrote in support (and in the voice) of the oppressed against the oppressors, to the point of exalting as a Jesus-like figure a fisherman who feeds a hungry murderer and then lies to the police about it as a form of dissent against the established order (“Il pescatore” [The Fisherman] 1970). Such extreme avowals of partisanship against institutional power have been understandably criticized as deandreismo (Carrera 69), a manifestation of a certain fashionable bourgeois rebelliousness (De André was born to a well-to-do family of the Genoese bourgeoisie).

Among De André’s co-writers one should also mention the lyricist Giuseppe Bentivoglio, comedian and author Paolo Villaggio, music conductor Gian Piero Reverberi and Academy Award winner Nicola Piovani. The 1979 tour and double live LP with Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) paved new ways for De André’s musical style, opening him up to progressive rock and ethnic music. With Mauro Pagani, De André conceived a new project for an album written entirely in Genoese dialect and employing ethnic instruments of the Mediterranean (Creuza de mä, 1984). The songs from this album focus on the lives of prostitutes, sea captains, sailors and credit collectors: all the lowlife of Genoa and their traditions, told with a realistic color and passionate participation. Creuza de mä won several important awards, received enthusiastic reviews, and was saluted as a milestone of ethnic and world music by both critics and the larger public.

The Aristophanean references in Le nuvole [Clouds] (1990) mix anti-capitalist themes with a desire for freedom from institutional power (“Ottocento” [The 1800s]). The album has a coda of Mediterranean-themed songs (“Mégu megún” [Doctor, Doctor] and“’Â çímma,” referring to a stuffed veal dish in Genoese dialect) that De André coauthored with Genoese fellow cantautore Ivano Fossati. More literary influences from Mario Luzi, Alvaro Mutis and Elias Canetti can be appreciated in his last album, Anime Salve [Saved Souls] (1996), also co-written with Ivano Fossati and Mauro Pagani (Ciabattoni 69-92). De André read Mutis in Italian, as proven by his underlined and annotated copy of Summa di Maqroll il gabbiere [The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll] (Einaudi, 1993), which features as a prominent point of reference in “Smisurata preghiera” [Immeasurable Prayer].

The songwriting and performances of Fabrizio De André expanded and enriched the expressive range of the Italian canzone d’autore. His interest in literature and in social outcasts ennobled its nature. De André himself, however, rejected the label of “poet” in favor of cantautore (interview). Innovating, if not founding, the genre in Italy, De André’s canzone d’autore does not need to be likened to poetry to receive aesthetic dignity. It is a form of art with its own worth.

Unless otherwise noted, all translations are mine. Entire lyrics, translations and commentaries are available on http://italiansongwriters.com/.


– Ansaldo, Marco. Le molte feritoie della notte. I volti nascosti di Frabrizio De André. UTET, 2015.Carrera,

– Alessandro. Il ricatto del godimento. QuiEdit, 2012.

– Ciabattoni, Francesco. La citazione è sintomo d’amore. Cantautori italiani e memoria letteraria. Carocci, 2016.

– Ciabattoni, Francesco. Storia di un impiegato, Treccani online, 2021.

– De André, Fabrizio, interview. “Quando De André disse: ‘Io un poeta? Sono un cantautore.’” September 20, 2013. http://www.famigliacristiana.it/video/quando-de-andre-disse-sono-un-cantautore-non-un-poeta.aspx.

– Fasoli, Doriano (ed.). Fabrizio De André, da Marinella a Creuza de Ma. Edizioni associate, 1989.

– Guastella, Gianni, and Marrucci, Marianna. Da Carlo Martello al Nome della Rosa. Musica e letteratura in un medioevo immaginato. Semicerchio. Rivista di poesia comparata XLIV, 2011/1.

– Guastella, Gianni and Pirillo, Paolo. Menestrelli e Giullari. Il medioevo di Fabrizio De André e l’immaginario Medievale nel Novecento Italiano. Edifir, 2012.

– Liperi, Felice. Storia della canzone italiana. Rome, Rai Radiotelevisione italiana Editori periodica e Libreria, 2011.

– Pistarini, Walter, and Sassi, Claudio. De André talk: le interviste e gli articoli della stampa d’epoca. Coniglio, 2008.

– Romana, Cesare G. Fabrizio De André. Amico fragile. Arcana, 2009.

– Viva, Luigi. Non per un dio ma nemmeno per gioco: vita di Fabrizio De André. Feltrinelli, 2000.

Citation: Ciabattoni, Francesco. “Fabrizio De André”. The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 March 2019 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=14134]


By Marianna Orsi (University College School, London)

The first-generation, rebel, critic, introverted, educated, anarchic, lover of nature and the sea, regular visitor of the infamous neighborhoods of Genoa as well as of the countryside of Sardinia, and for many the Italian singer-songwriter par excellence.

Fabrizio Cristiano De André was born on February 18, 1940, the son of Giuseppe, a professor and director of various schools, and Luisa Amerio.

Due to the war, the family seeks refuge in a farmhouse in the countryside of Asti. Fabrizio grows up there and begins to develop a great love for the countryside, animals, and the environment.

In 1942, his uncle, Francesco Amerio, is deported to a concentration camp in Mannheim and will return, profoundly scarred psychologically, at the end of the war.

Fabrizio begins to show interest in music and to show intolerance for the rules. In 1944, Professor Giuseppe De André is forced to leave Genoa and to live in hiding due to an arrest warrant for having refused to report the Jewish students at his school.

After the war, the De André family returns to Genoa. Fabrizio begins elementary school, but early on demonstrates an intolerance for discipline as he spends a great deal of time in the streets causing trouble and instigating fights. In 1948, he meets Paolo Villaggio, the son of family friends, and a future author who will become his inseparable partner in adventures.

De André’s parents, passionate about classical music, decide to have him study the violin for which he immediately shows great talent. Soon thereafter, he becomes interested in the guitar through teaching himself, and thanks to the great Colombian teacher Alex Giraldo, in the South American classics.

In 1955, Fabrizio joins a country-western music group, The Crazy Cowboys & The Sheriff One. During this time, he also becomes interested in French music and musicians, such as Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel, and Leo Ferré. He is especially fascinated by George Brassens, the human comedy described in his songs, his interest in unsettling episodes, and by the weaknesses and contradictions of the human soul. He also becomes interested in jazz, and at the young age of sixteen joins the music group of the pianist Mario De Sanctis, which was also frequented by another already famous singer-songwriter, Luigi Tenco.

In 1959, he graduates from a classical high school, becomes interested in politics, and joins the Italian Anarchist Federation. He begins to think highly of the destitute anarchists that help those who are poorer than them, and he feels great solidarity with those who live on the outskirts of society, such as prostitutes, gay people, thieves, alcoholics, and with the world of the carruggi, the alleys of Genoa.

In 1960, he begins to write songs, and the first is La ballata di Michè, written with Clelia Petracchi. He performs in theaters with his friend Paolo Villaggio and with Luigi Tenco, both Genoese like him.

In 1961, he enrolls in university to study law, attended also by Villaggio who received good grades.

Between ‘60 and ‘61, the first albums Nuvole Barocche/E fu la notte and La ballata di Miché/La ballata dell’eroe are released.

In 1962, he marries Enrica Rignon, known as Puny, and soon thereafter their son Cristiano is born.

The first performances start; however, in order to maintain his family, De André works in the schools his father once directed, studies law intensely to obtain his law degree, and gives private lessons.

In 1964, La guerra di Piero is released, which is inspired by Brassens and his uncle Francesco’s story. The piece does not gain much recognition at first, but then blows up in 1968 and becomes the symbolic song of the youth protest. Also, he records his version of Joan Baez’s Geordie in 1966 with Maureen Rix.

In 1967 Tenco commits suicide in Sanremo during the music festival. It is a terrible shock for Fabrizio, and in the two following nights he writes Preghiera di Gennaio in memory of his friend.

The summons to appear in court begin as well as the accusations of obscenity and blasphemy in some of his songs.

In 1968, Mina records La canzone di Marinella legitimizing De André as a singer-songwriter (as does Gino Paoli in his song Il cielo in una stanza). In addition, the protest movement crowns him as its representative causing the secret services to spy on him for a few years.

In 1973, he begins a productive collaboration with Francesco De Gregori, and he dedicates himself to translating the lyrics of world-famous artists, such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. In the meantime, his marriage with Puny (Enrica) is not going well, and in 1974 Fabrizio meets the singer Dori Ghezzi whom he will marry in 1989.

Between 1974 and 1975, he conquers his shyness while performing and embarks on his first tournée. The shows are often introduced by the Genoese comedian Beppe Grillo. Fabrizio performs both in popular clubs, scandalizing the Left, who at the Feste de L’Unità (annual national events organized by the Italian Communist Party) or at those of the Lotta Continua (an extreme-left movement) often also improvises free shows for those who cannot afford to pay for a ticket, arousing the animosity of the music-industry executives.

In the meantime, Fabrizio has achieved his dream of having his own agricultural business. He purchased an estate in Sardinia and dedicates himself to restoring the house and the farm. In 1977, the daughter of Fabrizio and Dori, Luisa Vittoria, called Luvi, is born.

In August of 1979, De André and Ghezzi are kidnapped in their estate in Sardinia by two criminals and remain under the control of their captors until December. They spend the majority of the time tied to a tree and wear the same clothes of the day they were taken hostage. After the ransom is paid, the two are freed. They decline to be a civil party against their kidnappers in court. Their love for Sardinia is not undermined.

In 1981, the album Fabrizio De André is released, famous like L’indiano, for the image of a Native American on the cover. Fabrizio sees similarities between the Native Americans and the Sardinians, considering both of them exploited and enslaved peoples who were expelled from their homelands by careless colonizers. The album contains the songs Hotel Supramonte, dedicated to the kidnapping, and Fiume Sand Creek, inspired by the massacres of the Cheyenne and the Arapho by the army of the United States in 1864.

De André receives numerous awards and recognitions, including one from Club Tenco. He is offered the opportunity to be the opener for Bob Dylan’s concert at San Siro in Milan, but after a long reflection, he declines.

In 1996, Anime salve is released, dedicated to the themes of liberty, solitude, marginalization, and to various figures considered to be “different,” such as transgender people and the Rom. The final song, Smisurata preghiera, is a sort of spiritual testament that is inspired by the saga Maqroll Il Gabbiere by Álvaro Mutis with whom De André becomes friends. The Spanish version of the lyrics is inserted in the soundtrack of the film Llona llega con la lluvia by Sergio Cabrera, which is based on Mutis’s novel.

In 1996, the novel Un destino ridicolo, written with Alessandro Gennari, is also published. In August of 1998, De André is diagnosed with a tumor in his lungs and passes away on January 11, 1999.



Francesco Ciabattoni, La citazione è sintomo d’amore. Cantautori e memoria letteraria, Rome, Carocci, 2016.

Luigi Viva, Non per un Dio ma nemmeno per gioco. Vita di Fabrizio de André, Milano, Feltrinelli, 2008.

Translated songs: