Before I came to Italy many, many moons ago, I thought bagpipes had been inflicted upon the world by the Scottish. I was wrong. Italy too has its own versions of this curious musical instrument. Bagpipe, by the way, is ‘cornamusa‘ in Italian.
In the north of Italy, there’s the baghèt form of bagpipe which first graced the area around Bergamo with its distinctive tones way back in 1347. Virtually abandoned in the 1950s, the baghèt came back into musical fashion in the 1980s and can sometimes be heard being played by hardy looking mountain men on the streets of Milan.
In the rest of Italy’s Apennines, the piva version of the bagpipe can be heard. Then there’s the musa version of the instrument.
The musa type bagpipe is common to the so-called Four Provinces of the Ligurian Apennines. The Four Provinces are Alessandria, Genoa, Pavia, and Piacenza.
Head further south in Italy and you may come across the zampogna, another form of Italian bagpipe and it seems to be the instrument being played in this video of a bagpipe performance, with dancing, at the Verdi theatre in Forlimpopoli, which, as it happens, is in Italy’s north east:
Stop reading, start speaking
Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.
While passing Scots may wish to disagree, it seems possible bagpipes appeared in Italy before they became a feature of Scottish culture. Nobody really seems to know where or when in the world bagpipes were first heard.
As for the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipes, a few of these instruments are bound to be found lurking in Barga in Tuscany, along with haggis and good whisky.
That bagpipes will make a musical appearance during Barga’s Burns’ night, I am almost certain.
Baghèt photo by Flavio05