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15 of the Best Italian Alternative Rock Bands

I've been writing about foreign travel and European rock music online for over 12 years.


Some bands are hard to categorise in any country and in any language.

The Italian music scene is no different and many groups will produce quite unique and idiosyncratic music that is difficult to define.

So the sobriquet of 'alternative music' was a broad brush that tried to cover these bands all over the world.

Here is a selection of the best from Italy over the past 30 years from music that evolved from the punk and new wave explosion that shook the English language speaking music businesses of the USA and the UK back in the late 1970s.

Top 15 Best Italian Alt Rock Bands

  1. Litfiba
  2. Negrita
  3. The Zen Circus
  4. Diaframma
  5. Subsonica
  6. Negramaro
  7. Bluvertigo
  8. Ministri
  9. CCCP Fedeli Alla Linea
  10. Baustelle
  11. Le Vibrazioni
  12. Meganoidi
  13. Massimo Volume
  14. Ritmo Tribale
  15. Tiromancino

1. Litfiba

Mostly singing in Italian Lifiba evolved from the sound of 1980s punk and new wave inspired by England. But they developed into an individual sound influenced by rock and the music of the Mediterranean.

They have been a very popular band in Italy who have enjoyed great success over many years. They have undergone line-up changes in the past 30 years and original lead singer Piero Pelú enjoyed a successful solo career before re-joining the band.

Among their best tunes are 'El Diablo', 'Il Mio Corpo Che Cambia', the mid-tempo ballad 'Vivere il Mio Tempo', 'Prima Gardia', 'Regina Di Cuori' and the largely acoustic 'Goccia a Goccia'.

2. Negrita

These guys hail from the village of Capolona in Arezzo in the glorious region of Tuscany. They began life in 1991 and take their name from the 1976 Rolling Stones song 'Hey, Negrita'.

Therefore the influence of Messrs Jagger, Richards et al features in their music. However they are quite eclectic and have produced grunge, reggae and even Latin rhythms within their rock n' roll repertoire.

They have also sung some tunes in Spanish and have a following in South America as well as enjoying massive commercial success in Italy.

Best songs are 'Magnolia', 'Che Rumore fa la Felicita?', 'Gioia Infinita'. 'Ho Imparato a Sognare' and 'Rotolando Verso Sud'.

3. The Zen Circus

Founded in 1994 in Pisa they were originally called simple 'The Zen' until the year 2000. They moved to the forefront of the Italian rock scene thanks to their exhausting live performances and seven album releases to their name.

Their 2008 release 'Hell House' was produced by Brian Ritchie of The Violent Femmes with collaboration from Kim and Kelly Deal and also Jerry Harrison.

They originally sung in English but in 2009 began recording in the Italian language with the album Andate Tutti Affanculo. This continued with the album Nati per Subire, released in 2011.

Best songs from The Zen Circus are 'Vent'Anni', the acoustic epic 'Andate Tutti Affanculo', 'Figlio di Puttana' and 'Punk Lullaby' both with Brian Ritchie, 'Canzone di Natale' and 'Vuoti a Perdere'.

4. Diaframma

Formed in Florence way back in 1979 and one of the best acts of the 1980s although they are still going strong today.

They were begun by Federico Fuimani and evolved from the darkwave sound to a more Punk orientation. They are a very prolific band having released many albums throughout their long career.

To preserve his independent streak Fuimani turned down the lucrative attractions of major record label deals. Therefore he and the band have achieved the status of cult heroes among the underground scene in Italy.

Best songs from a huge back catalogue are perhaps 'Gennaio', 'Labbra Blu', 'Siberia', 'Lo Amo Lei', 'L'Odore Delle Rose' and 'Amsterdam' which was a collaboration with Litfiba.

5. Subsonica

Formed in 1996 in Turin they initially toured squats as well as the clubs in Italy. They have collaborated with poets and artists in their experimental wanderings to explore with their music and ideas.

They have also wrote about social issues including anti-war feelings and spoken out publicly against right-wing politics.

One of the highlights of their career occurred in the year of their tenth anniversary when they headlined the Cornetto Algida Free Music Festival in July 2006. On a bill which included the Black Eyed Peas over 200,000 spectators attended the Piazza San Giovanni in Rome.

Among their most popular songs are 'Tutti I Miei Sbagli', 'Incantevole', 'Eden', 'L'Odore', 'Aurora Sogna', 'Istrice' and 'Nouva Ossessione'

6. Negramaro

Named after the negroamaro wine of their native region of Salento they formed in 1999. They broke through at the Sanremo Festival in 2005 and went from strength to strength.

Although not strictly a metal band they possess enough heavy touches to be enjoyed by fans of that genre although they have followed a more commercially-oriented Pop-Rock style in recent times.

They have become very successful in Italy and one of the highlights was a superb concert album Live at San Siro in 2008.

The ballads ''Solo Per Te' and 'Come Sempre' and the captivating 'Un Passo Indietro' are among their most well-known. But also check out 'Mentre Tutto Scorre', 'Via Le Mani Dagli Occhi', 'Parlami d'Amore' and 'Meraviglioso'

7. Bluvertigo

Formed in 1992, they were originally called Golden Age and also The Chemical Trilogy. Strangely, their name Bluvertigo translates as Rolling Stones although David Bowie is their real influence.

Their music is a mixture of rock, pop and electronica accompanied by imaginative videos. They have worked with Mariah Carey on her songs 'Fantasy' and 'Electroshock'.

They also pursued solo careers and the band split for several years before reforming in 2008. Among their best songs are 'L'Assenzio', La Crisi', 'Sovrappensiero', 'Altre Forme di Vita', 'Iodio' and 'Fuori Dal Tempo'

8. Ministri

Formed from the prolific rock city of Milan in 2003. A classic three-piece combo their line-up is Davide Autelitano on vocals and bass, Federico Dragogna on guitar and Michele Esposito (drums).

With their combination of "melodic, angry rock, and committed lyrics" as described by on reviewer they have steadily progressed over 3 album releases.

A significant addition to their musical CV was an appearance at the 2011 Festival 'Rock in IdRho' in Milan where major international acts like The Hives, Iggy Pop and The Foo Fighters performed.

Best tracks are 'Bevo', 'Gli Alberi', 'Diritto al Tetto', 'Noi Fuori', 'Tempi Bui' and 'Il Bel Canto'.

9. CCCP Fedeli Alla Linea

Formed in 1982 in Berlin they actually came from the Reggio Emilia area. They self-defined their style as 'Emilian Melodic Music - ProSoviet Punk'.

Their influence has also inspired other successful Italian bands like Marlene Kuntz and Massimo Volume. Unsurprisingly the demise of the band came with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and they disbanded in 1990.

But maintaining the Russian analogy they reformed in 1992 as Consorzio Suonatori Indipendenti or 'CSI' which was also the new acronym for the Confederation of the former Soviet Republics at that time.

Top tunes are 'Oh Battagliero', 'Annarella', 'Emilia Paranoica', 'Tu Menti' and 'Morire'.

10. Baustelle

Strangely named after the German word for 'work in progress' this band come from Montepulciano, Siena in the Tuscany region. They were formed in 1994 but it took them several years to gain recognition with their third album 'La Malavita' released in 2005.

Their music is a mixture of pop, rock and electronica having been likened to the music of Depeche Mode. There have also been comparisons made with other English bands The Smiths, Pulp and also the American group Television.

Amongst an interesting collection of songs you may try out 'Un Romantico a Milano', 'Gomma', 'Gli Spietati', 'Alfredo','Il Liberismo ha i Giorni Contati', 'Love Affair' and 'Il Nulla'.

11. Le Vibrazioni

A band that offer a mixture of pop and rock that is distinctively Italian in its style and exuberance. They were formed in Milan in 1999 and became a noted club band with a strong cult status.

But then they went platinum with their début single 'Dedicato a Te' in 2003 and their career was launched into the big time. This included an appearance in 2005 at the Italian concert which was part of the global 'Live 8' phenomenon. Also a support slot to ACDC in Udine in 2010.

To date they have released five albums including the marvellous 'En Vivo' recorded in concert in Sant'Angelo dei Lombardi. Other great songs in their repertoire are 'Vieni da Me', the beautiful ballad 'Respiro', 'In Una Notte d'Estate', the rockin 'Senza Indugio' and 'Angelica'.

12. Meganoidi

These guys come from Genoa and were formed back in 1997. They sing in both Italian and English sometimes during the same song. They have also undergone some very strange transitions in style over their career.

Initially, they were a ska-punk band before experimenting with a more alternative rock sound. Then in 2005 they released an EP derived from the progressive rock school of music and continued with this sound on their next album Granvanoeli.

Therefore, depending on your particular taste, the best songs are 'Zeta Reticoli', 'Supereroi', 'MIA', 'Inside the Loop' and 'Contro Daitan 3'.

13. Massimo Volume

Formed in Bologna in 1992 this band have a very unusual style. They are known for the poetic spoken-word delivery of singer Emidio Clementi who has also published poems and novels.

Their music has been inspired mainly by the likes of England's Joy Division and the Italian band CCCP Fedeli alla Linea.

Although only a three-piece outfit they have had quite a few line-up changes over the years with six ex-members of the band. They also actually split-up in 2002 before returning six years later leading to an eventual album release entitled Cattive Abitudini in 2010.

Most memorable tracks are 'Fausto', 'Meglio di uno Specchio', 'Litio', 'Il Primo Dio', 'Un Altro Domani' and 'Ti Sto Cercando'.

14. Ritmo Tribale

Formed in 1984, they are another group that hailed from Milan. They have been an influential band on succeeding artists on the Italian Rock music scene.

They released eight albums during their career. Then after they split in 2001 a compilation was released in 2007 called Uomini 1988-2000.

Fans are still hoping they can return especially since singer Stefano Rampoldi came back to the music scene after a 12-year self-imposed exile from the business with his solo album Semper Biot in 2009.

Noted for their one-word song-titles the best tunes from the band are 'Amara', Musica', 'L'Assoluto', 'Oceano', 'Uomini', 'Sogna' and 'Anarkia'.

15. Tiromancino

A band founded in Rome in 1989 and initially a project of singer Federico Zampaglione. Based on his acoustic and electronic style with introspective lyrics the band gradually evolved.

The first album called Tiromancyno was released in 1992 and three more albums followed before a deal was signed with Virgin Records. This brought the successful album 'La Descrizione di un Attimo' in 2000 followed by an extensive tour which consolidated their popularity.

They went from strength to strength in the 2000s with Zampaglione and band mainstay members Andrea Pesce, and the late Luigi Pulcinelli. Many others have floated through the band on an itinerant basis including Federico's brother Francesco.

Some of the best songs to look up are 'Liberi', 'Strade', 'L'Ultimo Treno della Notte', 'Angoli di Cielo' and 'Amore Impossibile'.



Mario on May 11, 2016:

I like this video:

Shinkicker (author) from Scotland on March 06, 2012:

Thanks eletra17hubpages

It's nice to be able to sing along with lyrics but at the end of the day if the music is good that's what counts.

eletra17hubpages from FROM PHILIPPINES on March 05, 2012:

I love your music even i didn't understand, hehehe

Shinkicker (author) from Scotland on November 16, 2011:

Thanks for reading, rockin, rollin and commenting Tracy :-)

Some unusual sounds here, lot of variety.


Tracy from San Francisco on November 16, 2011:

Some great tunes here, Shinkicker. Another one to add to your treasure-trove of musical hubs ~ nice video-picks, too! Voted up and retweeted.:)