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Balilla Meaning


Staff member
Posted 03 May 2005 by Fanatic_Blitzer

What the heck does 'Balilla' mean? I heard it in several songs, but I don't know what it means. Can someone help me?


Posted 03 May 2005 by Lupo Solitario

oh, it's an old story...In the late XVII century, an Austrian army was passing through Genoa - I don't know either which war was - and was forcing Italian peasants to bear their weapons. A young kid nicknamed Balilla reacted throwing stones. This developed in a people's reaction to which Austrians were expelled from Genoa.

The episode of Balilla was remembered during the Risorgimento and adopted by fascism always referring to young kids. The Italian hymn speaks about it and many fascist period songs. Also, the most popular car of the period was named after Balilla.


Posted 04 May 2005 by Fanatic_Blitzer

Thanks a lot. I first thought it was another nickname for Il Duce.


Posted 17 January 2006 by Michele

Just a precision: it was not XVII century and the Austrian army was not only passing through Genova...

As part of the complex events of the so-called Austrian succession war, the Austrian army (with their allied Piedmontese) was able to conquer Genova on 6th September 1746. Soon they started to loot money and weapons of the conquered city. On 5th December 1746 a revolt began and on the 10th they were forced to leave to city.

The action that is considered to have started the revolt was essentially those mentioned by Lupo. A group of soldiers forced people to carry a (captured Genoese) gun through the city...
Balilla was the nickname of the person who started to launch stones against the Austrian soldiers. His real name is not known (and cannot be known, honestly). Only Mameli one century later identified him as Giovan Battista Perasso, but this is very doubtful.



Posted 17 January 2006 by Lupo Solitario

oops's, there's a typo, I wanted to write XVIII century...but thanks Michele for all the rest... :oops:

BTW that's the citation in Italian national hymn:

Dall'Alpi a Sicilia
Dovunque è Legnano,
Ogn'uom di Ferruccio
Ha il core, ha la mano,
I bimbi d'Italia
Si chiaman Balilla,
Il suon d'ogni squilla
I Vespri suonò

and that's in the hymn of Balilla Organization:

Fischia il sasso, il nome squilla
del ragazzo di Portoria,
e l'intrepido Balilla
sta gigante nella storia...
Era bronzo quel mortaio
che nel fango sprofondò,
ma il ragazzo fu d'acciaio
e la madre liberò.

|: Fiero l'occhio, svelto il passo,
chiaro il grido del valore:
ai nemici in fronte il sasso,
agli amici, tutto il cor! :|


Posted 18 January 2006 by Joseph Salemi

My late uncle, Angelo Sokol, was in the Fascist Balilla when he was a little boy in the area of Venezia Giulia. Although he was Croatian, he had to learn Italian and be a part of this youth organization. He said it was similar to the Boy Scouts but somewhat more militaristic. When he joined the American Army during the Korean War, he was actually questioned about it, since the Fascist Balilla was still listed as a subversive organization by the Americans!


Posted 23 January 2006 by Michele

Lupo, I was sure that it was a typo, I posted that "precision" because non-Italian readers of the forum could not be aware that it was a typo...