At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

25 December 2018

Marco Mengoni - singer-songwriter

X-Factor victory was launchpad to stardom


Marco Mengoni won Italy's The X-Factor in 2009
Marco Mengoni won Italy's
The X-Factor in 2009
The singer-songwriter Marco Mengoni, who rose to fame after winning the Italian version of the TV talent show The X-Factor, was born on this day in 1988 in Ronciglione in northern Lazio.

Mengoni triumphed in the 2009 edition - the third series of X-Factor on the public service channel Rai Due before it was bought up by subscription channel Sky Italia - during which he unveiled what would be his debut single, Dove si vola, which he sang for the first time at the semi-final stage.

The single, an example of the sophisticated pop-rock style that would become Mengoni’s trademark,  reached number one in the Italian downloads chart while a seven-track extended play album of the same name sold 70,000 copies, peaking at nine in the Italian albums chart.

Mengoni’s performances on The X-Factor had received favourable comments from both Mina and Adriano Celentano, the all-time bestselling artists in Italian popular music history.

Marco Mengoni in a presentation video for his hit single and Eurovision Song Contest entry, L'essenziale
Marco Mengoni in a presentation video for his hit single
L'essenziale, his Sanremo winner and Eurovision entry
The prize for winning The X-Factor was a recording contract with a value of €300,000 and automatic selection for the 2010, Sanremo Music Festival 2010, in which he finished third with Credimi ancora. The single was included in Mengoni’s second EP, Re matto, which topped the Italian singles chart.

His first full-length solo album, Solo 2.0, went straight to number one in the Italian albums chart when it was released in September 2011.  Whereas he had previously sung mostly compositions written by others, the tracks on Solo 2.0 were almost all co-written by Mengoni.

After spending much of 2012 touring, Mengoni entered Sanremo again in 2013 and this time won, with L’essenziale, which he wrote in collaboration with Roberto Casalino and Francesco De Benedettis.

Mengoni at a press conference ahead of his performance at the 2013 Eurovision
Mengoni at a press conference ahead of
his performance at the 2013 Eurovision
L’essenziale was the lead single from Mengoni's second studio album, #prontoacorrere, It debuted at number one on the FIMI Singles Chart and downloads exceeded 120,000. It was the top selling track of the year by an Italian artist.

The song was also selected as Italy’s entry for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden.  Mengoni finished seventh - well behind the winner, Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest (Only Teardrops) - but the song caught the imagine of viewers and gained him many new fans outside Italy.

Since then, Mengoni has released three more studio albums - Parole in circolo and Le cose che non ho in 2015 and, this autumn, Atlantico - plus a live album, Marco Mengoni Live, a 2016 double album that included five previously unreleased studio tracks.

Atlantico has been top of the Italian album chart for four weeks, giving Mengoni a Christmas number one.

Mengoni grew up in Ronciglione, which is about 60km (37 miles) north of Rome, near Lago di Vico. At the age of 14, while a design student at secondary school, he took singing lessons. He soon tasted the experience of singing before an audience after his teacher invited him to join a vocal quintet which performed in piano bars and clubs.

The cover of Mengoni's Le cose che no ho, his third studio album
The cover of Mengoni's Le cose che no ho,
his third studio album
He embarked on a solo singing career at 16, assembling a group of backing musicians to perform in small clubs, mixing covers with his own songs. At 19 he moved to Rome to study languages at university. His big break in The X-Factor came a year later.

Among Mengoni’s other achievements, he was the first Italian artist to win Best European Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards - in 2010 and 2015 - and the first Italian artist to perform at the Billboard Film & TV Music Conference in Los Angeles, in 2013.

Today, Mengoni lives in Milan.  In 2019, he embarks on a 16-date European tour, between April and May, beginning with shows in Germany, Switzerland and France, following by 12 appearances in Italy.  On May 25 and 26 he is scheduled to perform at the Arena di Verona, the Roman amphitheatre that has become one of Italy’s most prestigious concert venues.

The quaint medieval area of Ronciglione, Mengoni's home town in Lazio
The quaint medieval area of Ronciglione,
Mengoni's home town in Lazio
Travel tip:

Ronciglione, known locally as RonciĆ³, is a town about 20km (12 miles ) from Viterbo located in the Cimini mountains, on the southeast slope of the former volcano crater now housing Lake Vico.  The main sights include a well-preserved medieval centre, a castle originally built in the middle ages, with characteristic angle rounded towers, and a Baroque cathedral designed by Pietro da Cortona, rebuilt by Carlo Rainaldi between 1671 and 1695. The bell tower is from 1734. The cathedral houses a Tryptych of Christ by the Viterbese painter Gabriele di Francesco.  Ronciglione is known for its carnival and the Palio of the Manna, which features riderless horses competing for each of nine contrades (parishes).

Find hotels in Ronciglione on Expedia.co.uk

The Arena di Verona is now a major venue for both opera performances and music concerts
The Arena di Verona is now a major venue for both
opera performances and music concerts
Travel tip:

The Arena di Verona in Piazza Bra is a wonderful surviving example of a first-century Roman amphitheatre, which has now become a famous location for large-scale, outdoor productions of opera each summer.  The arena was built in in AD 30 on a site which was then beyond the city walls. It could host more than 30,000 spectators in ancient times, double the capacity permitted today. It was thanks to the enthusiasm of the tenor Giovanni Zenatello and the impresario Ottone Rovato in the early part of the 20th century that operatic performances became the arena’s staple. They put on a staging of Giuseppe Verdi's Aida in August 1913, to mark the birth of Verdi 100 years before in 1813. Musical luminaries such as Puccini and Mascagni were in attendance and since then summer seasons of opera have been mounted continually at the arena, apart from during the war years.

Verona hotels from Hotels.com

More reading:

Why Adriano Celentano is Italy's all-time biggest-selling star

Mina - the Italian icon who defied convention

The enduring talent of Eros Ramazzotti

Also on this day:

Natale - Christmas Day

800: Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor

1874: The birth of soprano Lina Cavalieri


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