This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Torna a Surriento" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (April 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
External audio
audio icon You may listen to "Torna a Surriento" (with Italian lyrics) as sung by the lyric tenor Nino Martini performing with the Alfredo Antonini Orchestra in 1941 here

"Torna a Surriento" (pronounced [ˈtɔrn a ssurˈrjendə]) is a Neapolitan song composed in 1894 by Italian musician Ernesto De Curtis to words by his brother, the poet and painter Giambattista De Curtis. The song was copyrighted officially in 1905, and has become one of the most popular of this traditional genre; others include "'O sole mio", "Funiculì funiculà", and "Santa Lucia".

History

Tradition holds that the origin of the song dates to 1902, when Guglielmo Tramontano, mayor of Sorrento, asked his friend Giambattista De Curtis to write the song for the Prime Minister Giuseppe Zanardelli, then vacationing at his seaside hotel, the Imperial Hotel Tramontano; it was claimed that the piece was meant to celebrate Zanardelli's stay.

Some claim the song is a plea to Zanardelli to keep his promise to help the impoverished city of Sorrento, which was especially in need of a sewage system. The song reflects the beauty of the city's great surroundings and the love and passion of its citizens.

More recent research indicates that the song may merely have been reworked for the occasion; family papers indicate that the brothers deposited a copy with the Italian Society of Authors and Editors in 1894, eight years before they claimed to have written it.

Neapolitan lyrics ("Torna a Surriento")

Vide 'o mare quant’è bello,
spira tantu sentimento,
Comme tu a chi tieni mente,
Ca scetato 'o fai sunnà.

Guarda gua' chistu ciardino;
Siente, sie’ sti ciur' arance:
Nu prufumo accussi fino
Dinto 'o core se ne va…

E tu dice: "I’ parto, addio!"
T’alluntane da stu core…
Da sta terra del l’ammore…
Tieni 'o core 'e nun turnà?

Ma nun me lassà,
Nun darme stu turmiento!
Torna a Surriento,
Famme campà!

Vid'o mare de Surriento,
che tesoro tene nfunno:
chi ha girato tutto 'o munno
nun l'ha visto comme'a ccà.

Vide attuorno sti Sirene,
ca te guardano 'ncantate,
e te vonno tantu bene...
Te vulessero vasà.

E tu dice: "I' parto, addio!"
T'alluntane da stu core
Da sta terra de l'ammore
Tiene 'o core 'e nun turnà?

Ma nun me lassà,
Nun darme stu turmiento!
Torna a Surriento,
Famme campà!

English translation ("Come Back to Sorrento")

Look at the sea, how beautiful it is,
it inspires so many emotions,
like you do with the people you look at,
who you make to dream while they are still awake.

Look at this garden
and the scent of these oranges,
such a fine perfume,
it goes straight into your heart,

And you say: "I am leaving, goodbye."
You go away from this heart of mine,
away from this land of love,
And you have the heart not to come back.

But do not leave me,
do not give me this torment.
Come back to Surriento,
make me live!

Look at the sea of Surriento,
what a treasure it is!
Even who has travelled all over the world,
has never seen a sea like this one.

Look at these mermaids
that stare, amazed, at you,
that love you so much.
They would like to kiss you,

And you say: "I am leaving, goodbye."
You go away from my heart,
away from the land of love,
And you have the heart not to come back.

But please do not leave me,
do not give me this torment.
Come back to Surriento,
make me live!

Other recordings