I've already written about this over on my Italian blog, but partly because I thought I'd do a better job in English, and partly because this blog's been a bit neglected recently I've decided to write about in in English too. Oh, and partly because of my love for Eurovision. And I adore Eurovision. I have ever since I can remember. At home I'd always be the last person staying awake right until the end to watch all the votes come in. Even at a young age it fascinated me, it was like a window on all these different countries and cultures. I'd listen to songs sung in unknown languages, following the subtitles giving the translation in English.
But unfortunately since moving to Italy I haven't been able to follow it as much as I would have liked. Until this year that is. When I read a few months ago that Italy was going to be rejoining the competition after a 14 year absence I couldn't believe it. For one thing, with all the political voting of the last few years, I couldn't understand what had made the powers that be change their minds! And when I found out who Italy would be sending to Duesseldorf the decision was made, I'd be supporting Italy - Raphael Gualazzi, as well as being very talented, was from Urbino!
So last night for the first time since 1997, Italy was back in Eurovision and Eurovision was back on Italian TV. Rai 2 to be precise. The second semi-final had been shown on digital channel Rai 5, whereas the first one hadn't been shown on Italian TV at all. And it was a strange experience. After a lifetime of watching it on the BBC this was Eurovision Italian style. The legendary Raffaela Carrà was commentating, along with Bob Sinclair (Ok, I get that they collaborated together, but, really?) and lots of other people, none of which I recognised. And obviously, with this being Italy (they weren't even in Duesseldorf!) there was a lot of talking. Too much. It got in the way of the show. Even when the votes were being announced there was too much chatter. I understand that there needed to be translation done into Italian, but last night was excessive. The only time we got a decent amount of silence was when Italy started creeping up the scoreboard...
I couldn't believe it. I had been so worried that Italy, after having sent such a good song, would only be disappointed with the result and would start sulking again. After a slow start and being stuck on 'nil points' for a while, before I knew it, Italy was 5th! But to my amazement the crew of commentators weren't happy. Until Italy got to third, and then the mood in the studio in Rome completely changed. With all the neighbourly and political voting of Eurovision I couldn't believe it, I never expected such a good result.
Italy finished second with 189 points. I'm so proud of Raphael and the team from Italy who were in Duesseldorf last night! But even after having come second, unfortunately not much has been said about it anywhere today. Italy still doesn't quite understand Eurovision yet, after 14 years a whole generation had never experienced it before last night. I'm hoping last night's result will be able to raise its profile for next year's competition, and that the programming on Rai will be better too - less chatter next time, yes?
So, Italy, what was all that sulking about then? Looks like Eurovision's not so bad after all!
For those of you who didn't see it, here's Raphael's fantastic performance from last night: