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September 2005



Kids Europe Newsletter - Bersagliere Military Elite

A Proud History

When you go to Italy, I want you to look for soldiers from the elite Bersagliere regiment. They are proud and dressed, some would say, for a comic opera. But explore the information in this newsletter and watch for Bersagliere soldiers and I hope you will experience the thrill of learning about this elite military tradition.

Pronunciation of bersagliere: bear sah lee air ey

Pat Byrne


From the Mountains to the Front Lines

Cavalry on Bicycles

The Bersagliere regiment was founded in 1836 in the Piedmont region of the Italian Peninsula (it wasn't a united country yet) near the mountains. This was originally a troop of armed hunters, usually professional gamekeepers. Already hardy, sharp shooting mountain men, they were armed with carbine rifles and formed a light, fast infantry that was self sufficient for up to three days with the ammunition and supplies that they carried. Their distinctive wide-brimmed hat protected their head and neck from the rain and was decorated with glossy black feathers. (They even wore feathers on their helmets in later conflicts.) Worn tipped to the side, the effect of their hat is dramatic. Underneath the hat they wear a red knit cap with a tassel against cold weather, or sometimes just the cap they call a "fez."

Through the 1800s, the bersagliere were noted for their bravery and endurance in the wars of independence from France, in Crimea in 1855, in the African campaigns of 1885, and in the Boxer rebellion in China in 1900. They were known for their athleticism as well as stealth in the mountains. Bugles were used to signal the troops and the bersagliere developed the tunes to a high art with rousing fanfares to tell the troops what to do while charging their spirits for battle.

During World War I, they became the first cavalry without horses! They were equipped with war bicycles and carried on trains to close to the front. It was a terrifying innovation for their enemies because bikes move faster and much more quietly than horses and require no food or sleep. The powerful bersagliere could drive their bicycles quickly and silently toward the enemy for sudden attacks.

A mystique grew up around these soldiers that persists to this day. They are known for their strength and bravery, as well as their way with the women. The image above shows all the legendary elements: rifle, train, bicycle, feathered hat and another soldier in the red "fez" kissing a woman. After WWI, the bicycle race became, and still is, one of Italy's most popular sports with, no doubt, many champions who were bersagliere.

The Bersagliere are currently serving in Iraq.

Here is a collection of websites by and about the Bersagliere. Even if you can't read Italian, click on the various links and you'll find many photos and can listen to many rousing trumpet fanfares in the process.

The Military Bicycle

And the Creed of Honor

Here is another photo of a bersagliere'sis war bike. You can see how they mounted the carbine with bayonet.

The Creed of the Bersagliere

  1. Obedience
  2. Respect
  3. Absolute knowledge of your arms
  4. Excellent training
  5. Gymnastics of every kind as far as frenzy
  6. Camaraderie
  7. Love of family
  8. Respect of the law and honor for the head of the country
  9. Honor the fatherland
  10. Belief in yourself as far as conceit

Bersagliere Music

Rousing Fanfares, Running Bands

Bersagliere music is known for its rousing bugle fanfares that are played while running or cycling as well as romantic, lyrical songs about Bersagliere.

The bugles that originally signaled musical orders to the troops, can be heard in parades and through links listed below. Earlier this year I was in Rome, inspecting apartments for Excellent Europe and was walking down the Via del Corso in the heart of the city when I was startled out of my Sunday morning reverie by the bugles of a troop of Bersagliere. As soon as I heard them, I turned to see them jogging past, playing all the while. I had to jog myself to get even a photo of their backs. Which leads to another aspect of their music, they run and play! No, not march, but actually run, as you can see in this picture. When you listen to the fanfares, just try to march to the beat! What happens?

And in this country famous for its lyrical music, there is many a romantic song about the bersagliere soldier. Here is the Bersagliere Romano song. It has all the important aspects of the romantic bersagliere, doesn't it: mother, country, pride, and beautiful women?

1. Mamma don't cry, do me this favor. I'm content to go to be a soldier. For Italy I'll be a brave Bersagliere because I've given my heart to the fatherland. The tricolor [flag] is the symbol of love, I'll fight as long as my heart beats.

Refrain: Oh Bersagliere leave happy between one kiss and the next, to the Regiment. Feathers in the wind, shiny and black, are the pride of the Bersagliere. Goodbye blondes, ciao brunettes, you are the blossoms of the men, your kisses bring joy to the ardent heart of a Bersagliere.

2. Mamma, I am writing you just a word to tell you I have joined the Regiment. It seems a dream to me to be a Bersagliere, when I march with feathers in wind! And when the fanfare sounds in my head I feel a grand, rare joy in my heart.


1. Mamma non piangere, fammi 'sto piacere, contento son d'andare a fa' il soldato. Sarò d'Italia un bravo Bersagliere perché alla Patria il cuore ho donato. Il Tricolore è simbolo d'amore combatterò finché mi batte il cuore.

Refrain: O Bersagliere parti contento, tra un bacio e l'altro, al Reggimento: le piume al vento, lucenti e nereson la fierezza del Bersagliere. Addio biondine, ciao brunette, siete le gemme delle maschiette, i baci vostri fanno piacere al cuore ardente di un Bersagliere.

2. Mamma, ti scrivo solo una parola per dirti che son giunto al Reggimento. Mi sembra un sogno d'esser Bersagliere.quando cammino con le piume al vento! E quando in testa suona la fanfara sento nel cuore una gran gioia rara. 'rrà!

Many of the Bersagliere sites have recordings of the trumpet fanfares that I hope you enjoy listening to. You may have to click around; look for a musical note symbol. For the first one with ten fanfares, you click first on Music, then on the name of the song and then again on the image.

Italy Discovery Journal Review

Author Praises the Journal

I found a very useful book Your Own Private Tuscany by Lynn Jennings about how to go about organizing a vacation rental in Italy. It is a helpful resource if you are planning a trip. I sent her a copy of the Italy Discovery Journal and she was very complimentary in this review, stating "...this activity-filled guide is a winner." She also gave top marks to our Excellent Europe vacation rentals site.

If you are studying Italy or planning to go there, the Italy Discovery Journal is the perfect companion for children up to about the age of 16. Adults, too, appreciate the insights as you can read in comments from satisfied customers. Costing as little as $7 for the eBook, $18 if printed, if it brightens even a single hour of your vacation, it has paid for itself!

Useful Links





Now is the time to start preparing for your Italian vacation in 2006. Start learning about Italian culture and book your vacation rentals at Excellent Europe .


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