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Come Back To Sorrento

By Thomas Keyes
Mar. 6, 2005

One of the most beautiful Italian songs that I know is “Torna a Surriento”. It is in the Neapolitan dialect of the Italian language, and I think that this is probably the original version. There is also a version in standard Italian called “Torna a Sorrento”, and a version or two in English, where it is called “Come Back to Sorrento”. The English lyrics have nothing to do with either of the Italian versions. The Italian versions were sung by Mario Lanza, Luciano Pavarroti and Julius LaRosa. Others, including Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, have sung the song either in Italian or English. The composer was Ernesto de Curtis (1875-1937). The song appeared in 1903.

Below I have listed one of the English versions, then the original Neapolitan, and finally the standard Italian version, apparently a faithful translation of the Neapolitan, with my own literal translation of the Italian version, which I have not attempted to fit to the melody. I personally sing only the Neapolitan version, which I’ve known since about 1984.

COME BACK TO SORRENTO (English)

Sunlight dances on the sea.
Tender thoughts occur to me.
I have often seen your eyes
In the nighttime, when I dream.

When I pass a garden fair,
And the scent is in the air
In my mind a dream awakes,
And my heart begins to break.

But you said good-bye to me.
Now all I can do is grieve.
Can it be that you forgot?
Darling, forget me not!

Please don’t say farewell
And leave this heart that’s broken.
Come back to Sorrento,
So I can mend.

TORNA A SURRIENTO (Neapolitan Dialect)

Vide ’o mare quant’è bello.
Spira tanta sentimento
Comme tu, a chi tiene mente
Ca, scetato, ’o faje sunnà.

Guarda, guá’ chisti ciardine.
Siente sié’ sti sciure ’arancio
Un prufumo accussí fino.
Dint’ ’o core se ne na.

Refrain : E tu dice, « Io parto, addio ! »
T’alluntane da stu core.
Da la terra de ’ll ammore
Tiene ’o core en un turná?
Ma nun me lassá.
Nun darme stu turmiento.
Torna a Surriento.
Famme campá!

Vide ’o mare di Surriento,
Che tesore tene ’nfunno,
Chi a girato tutt’ ’o munno.
Nun ll’ha visto comm’a ccá!

Guarda, attuorno, sti Ssirene,
Ca te guardano ’ncantate,
E te vono tantu bene
Te vulessero vasá!

Refrain

TORNA A SORRENTO (Standard Italian)

Vedi il mare come è bello!
Ispira molto sentimento
Come te che a chi guardi
Da sveglio lo fai sognare.

Guarda, guarda questo giardino.
Senti, senti questi fiori d’arancio.
Un profumo cosí delicato
Dentro al cuore se ne va.

Refrain

E tu dici, « Io parto, addio ! »
Ti allontani da questo cuore.
Dalla terra dall’amore,
Hai il coraggio di non tornare?
Ma non lasciarmi!
Non darmi questo tormento!
Torna a Sorento !
Famme vivere !

Vedi il mare di Sorrento,
Che tesori ha nel fondo,
Chi a girato tutto il mondo
Non l’ha visto come qua.

Guarda intorno queste Sirene,
Che ti guardano incantate,
E ti vogliono tanto bene.
Ti vorrebbero baciare.

Refrain

TRANSLATION

See the sea, how beautiful it is!
It inspires many feelings,
Like you, who, to whoever watches,
Gives dreams while he’s awake.

Look, look at this garden.
Smell, smell these orange blossoms.
No more fragrant perfume
Can enter the heart.

Refrain

And you say, “I’m leaving, farewell!”
You’re leaving this heart.
From the land of love,
Do you have the courage not to return?
Do not forske me!
Do not torment me!
Return to Sorrento!
Give me life!

See the sea of Sorrento,
What treasures there are on the bottom.
Whoever travels the whole world
Will mever see anything like this.
Look around at these Sirens,
Who are watching you with enchantment.
And they wish you so well
They would kiss you.

Refrain

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About the author Thomas Keyes: I have written two books: A SOJOURN IN ASIA (non-fiction) and A TALE OF UNG (fiction), neither published so far.

I have studied languages for years and traveled extensively on five continents.

Email: udikeyes@yahoo.com


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