Dancing nuns go viral with Italian Eurovision parody

Italy's Eurovision 2017 entry has emerged as an early favourite, not just in betting shops but also on social media, where dozens of parodies of the tongue-in-cheek song have emerged. One of the most popular stars a group of spirited 'singing nuns'.

Dancing nuns go viral with Italian Eurovision parody
A screenshot of the video. Credit: Ima Caforio

'Occidentali's Karma' by Tuscan singer-songwriter Francesco Gabbani, won Italy's Sanremo Song Festival, a prestigious contest which actually inspired Eurovision and is used to pick the national entry.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about the Sanremo Song Festival

In the lyrics, Gabbani pokes fun at Westerners' fascination with eastern spirituality, and “our clumsy attempt to ape the Eastern habits to find inner peace.” 

But it's the dance routine – which sees Gabbani and a man in an ape costume imitate classic yoga and meditation poses – which has particularly caught the imagination of the country.

One of the most popular parodies features a group of 'dancing nuns' attempting Gabbani's signature move in the northern city of Bologna.

Ima Caforio, who produced the video, told The Local that she was inspired by Sister Alberta Cocchi, one of the first nuns to perform music for the pope.

Caforio learned about the musical nun when working as a producer on a documentary.

“Sister Alberta spoke often about her passion for music, and when the Sanremo winner went viral, with people making videos of the dance routine, I was talking to my mum and said that if Sister Alberta was alive, she definitely would have joined in!” she said.

She made the video “in honour of Sister Alberta”, with her mother, sister, and two friends playing the part of the four dancing nuns.

The video was shot in some of Bologna's best-known tourist spots, including the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. In some clips, bemused passersby stop to watch the nuns' dance moves.

“We showed the video on the final day of carnival in Bologna, and the audience seemed to enjoy it!” Caforio said.

“The Internet responded positively – there were some people who didn't agree with it, but only a few – and I've done loads of interviews with national newspapers, radio stations and TV programmes.

“Sister Alberta would be pleased!” 

The official music video is hardly any less surreal, featuring a man in an ape costume in a nod to the book The Naked Ape by zoologist Desmond Morris.

While the nuns in Caforio's video may not be genuine, Italy does have its very own musical nun. Sister Cristina first rose to fame on TV reality show The Voice, with the clip of the judges' shock when they saw her quickly going viral.

The Sicilian nun has gone on to record an album – including a cover of Madonna's 'Like a Virgin' – and to star in a stage production of Sister Act.

READ ALSO: 'Italians couldn't care less about Eurovision'

'Italians couldn't care less about Eurovision'

Photo: Nikolai Linares/AFP

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Turin chosen to host Eurovision Song Contest in 2022

The next edition of the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2022 will be held in the northern Italian city of Turin, organisers confirmed on Friday.

Italy's Maneskin performs during the final of the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 in Rotterdam.
Italy's Maneskin performs during the final of the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 in Rotterdam. Photo: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP

“Turin has won the race to become the host city of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest, having triumphed over 16 other competing bids,” read a statement on the contest’s official website.

“The Grand Final will be held in PalaOlimpico on Saturday 14 May with Semi-Finals on 10 and 12 May.”

“We won! Turin has won!” mayor Chiara Appendino wrote in a celebratory post on Facebook.

Italian state broadcaster Rai said Turin had beaten off competition from the cities of Milan, Bologna, Rimini and Pesaro to host the event.

READ ALSO: Italy wins Eurovision: ‘We just want to say to the whole world, rock’n’roll never dies!’

Turin will be the third Italian city to host the event after Naples (which hosted in 1965) and Rome (1991), after Rome-based rock band Måneskin’s victory in Rotterdam earlier this year with the song ‘Zitti e buoni’.

That event, watched by 183 million people, was Italy’s third Eurovision win and its first for three decades.

‘Turin is the perfect Host City for the 66th Eurovision Song Contest,” said Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl.

“As we saw during the 2006 Winter Olympics, PalaOlimpico exceeds all the requirements needed to stage a global event of this scale and we have been very impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment from the City of Turin who will welcome thousands of fans next May.”

“This will be the first Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Italy in 30 years and, together with our Host broadcaster Rai, we are determined to make it a special one.’

Turin was home to the 2006 Winter Olympics and is hosting the ATP Finals tennis tournament next month.