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Una casa in cima al mondo

Una casa in cima al mondo

(Pino Donaggio-Vito Pallavicini) – Pino Donaggio, 1966

That too came out in the summer, that of 1965. I had told Pallavicini that I had a new piece, I had sent him the tape and I was waiting for him to show up from one day to the next. At that time I was staying at my in-laws’ country house, in a village near Pordenone, Budoia. He called me and told me: “Pino, I am coming down, I’ve written the lyrics for the new song for you.” Pallavicini lived in Vigevano, and he always used to go round with a friend of his, Beppe Bottino, who took him everywhere because Vito had had problems with his eyes and could not drive. In truth – as Bottino told me only some time later – when Vito had called me to tell me that he would come over, he had not written a word yet. And neither had I written anything, not even the song intro of the piece. The idea of ​​a house at the top of the world actually came from Vito, because he knew I was getting married, and that there was this new house waiting for me and my wife in Venice, where we would live. Before arriving in Budoia Vito stopped in a nearby village, went inside an inn, pulled out the recorder on which he listened to the melody of the song, and he wrote the lyrics of Una casa in cima al mondo there and then. Then he arrived in Budoia and nonchalantly said to me: “Here are the lyrics.” I immediately tried it on the piano, and sang it: it was perfect, I liked it very much. I still think these verses are some of the most beautiful things he wrote, they are very poetic.

I auditioned the song in Milan, everyone liked it, and we decide to attend the Sanremo Festival again. For the second time Mina came into the game, because it was with her that I was supposed to perform in Sanremo. Mina had sworn that she would never set foot in Sanremo again, she still felt rankled by the experience of 1961, when her two songs had not been appreciated, and always swore that she was done with Sanremo. I called her and told her I had a new song for her to hear. We met, and I remember very well that while listening to the song I was singing, Mina was moved, her eyes welled up. After a few days she came to Curci and announced she would come to Sanremo with me. She was convinced because she liked the song very much,  and decided to record it immediately. I believe that if she had come to Sanremo with me, we would have won big time, because she was in a moment of grace, and even more popular because of television, where she was incredibly successful with Studio Uno. Then as the weeks went by, she began to change her mind. She developed a kind of fear of going there, and in the end she said to me: “Pino, I’m sorry, but I can’t possibly go. I can’t help it. But I promise you that I’ll sing your song a week after the Festival, when I am guest starring on Caterina Valente’s TV show.”

At that point there was a vacant place, because Mina’s presence had now been made official with the organization. Then Gianni Ravera thought of Claudio Villa, who was a friend of his and had been left out of the Festival, I am not sure if it was because his song had been rejected or for some other reason. Ravera had him listen to the song, Claudio rehearsed it and then said: “It’s the most beautiful Italian song I’ve ever sung.” But my fans and his fans were not at all compatible, in the sense that they belonged to two extremely different types of audience. In this sense, we did not help each other in obtaining the votes necessary to place ourselves at the top, and we came forth. Nevertheless, the song did well in sales: there were three versions, mine, Villa’s and Mina’s, and it was mine that sold more, by far. If all three together reached 250,000 copies, my version alone made at least 130,000, that of Mina 80,000, and for the rest, Claudio’s version over 40,000 copies.


Quoted from: Ceri, Luciano, Tre minuti di musica (cantati da cane). Conversazione con Pino Donaggio, in «Musica Leggera», n. 7, Dicembre 2009, p. 26