The day before the exams, Antonello Venditti celebrates his 40th birthday: “I wanted to end it, the embrace of Rome saved me from darkness”

Antonello Venditti chose the Baths of Caracalla, in the Rome that has always rocked him, to celebrate the forty years of his famous song The day before exams. A choice which is anything but random, if only because the first of the three live shows in the capital falls on the evening of Tuesday June 18, on the eve of the first baccalaureate test. “I am one of the lucky ones who have always carried his history with him, my songs are always contemporary, timeless,” declares the singer-songwriter in in the wings, shortly before going on stage for the concert. “I am the anthem of Rome and I have written songs that will stay forever. In fact, in a few years they will forget me and the songs that will become an “Anonymous Roman” will remain,” adds Venditti.

The meeting with Dalla at the gas station and the return to Rome

On the stage of the ancient baths, the singer-songwriter takes up the songs of Heartthe album from which it is taken The day before exams and which marked a fundamental step in his career. “It’s the album of my return to Rome, after two years in Brianza, of anguish, of wanting to put an end to it,” reveals Venditti. But once he arrived in the capital, there was no trace of any of this. “Rome rocked me, it countered the darkness that I was experiencing and which no longer existed in my life. It was my drug, and it helped me stay off it,” he explains. What convinced him to return to his town, which he had left after his separation from Simona Izzo, was a meeting with Lucio Dalla in a motorway restaurant: “There, I understood the extreme value of friendship, which has no borders, has no gender, has no political or economic division. Love is an imperfect friendship, because in some cases it is an extreme selfishness that goes as far as violence, femicide.”

The day before Antonello Venditti's exams

With 47 albums to his credit, Antonello Venditti has no doubt about his favorite song: Sister Rosa. “I was 13-14 when I wrote it. I would have been delighted to write that, everything was already there,” explains the singer-songwriter. So of course there is The day before exams, which on the occasion of the first concert at the Baths of Caracalla takes on an even more particular flavor. “The day before exams it's a dream, something visionary. It is an anthem not for those who have been, but for those who will be. I don't remember much about the day before my written exams, but I do remember the night of the oral exams: a friend of mine and I went by motorbike to Florence. We got home just in time for the school doors to open,” Venditti recalls.

The relationship with politics

Before going on stage, there is room for one last chapter: politics. A subject on which Venditti prefers to remain silent “because every little word today is political and is more perceptible than a good word”. Satire, explains the singer-songwriter, “has never been appreciated by politicians, they have always considered it unbearable, and so it is a good way to express yourself. I never had any friends.” However, there is someone Venditti wants to save: “The real revolutionaries were Berlinguer on one side and Moro on the other, who really wanted to change things. True revolutionaries risk and lose their lives, but we must not give up our rights, like that of abortion. It is our conscience that decides.

On the cover: Antonello Venditti during the presentation of the initiatives of the “Notte Prima degli Esami 1984-2024” at the Ministry of Culture, Rome, May 7, 2024 (ANSA/Ettore Ferrari)

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