“Reginella”, sung by Olivia Naio. A song for Italian National Day

Olivia Dougan Naio signing

Today, 2 June, is the Festa della Repubblica, Italy’s National Day. So for my Italian readers (and everyone else too!) here’s a song from Naples performed – in the Neapolitan dialect – by my daughter, Olivia.

About Reginella

“Reginella”, written in 1917 by Libero Bovio and Gaetano Lama, is a bitter-sweet song about lost love and innocence. The singer sees his old love, his Reginella, walking down the street with her chanteuse friends, speaking in French. She’s wearing a low-cut dress and a hat adorned with roses and ribbons. Wordly, and no longer the girl he once courted, when they lived on bread and cherries – and kisses (“oh, what kisses!”).
He tells Reginella’s caged goldfinch to fly away, just like Reginella did. The cage door is open, he says, so fly away and find a mistress with a true heart, who deserves to hear you sing.  We don’t love each other any more, he sings in the chorus, but sometimes, he thinks (hopes), when Reginella allows her mind to drift, she still thinks of him.

About Olivia Dougan Naio

Olivia is a singer-songwriter who’s just finished her second year at Leeds College of Music, where’s she’s studying popular music. She’s classically trained too, having been a member of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Junior Chorus. Olivia’s working on an EP, but in the meantime if you’d like to hear some of her own songs you can find her on YouTube. She’s bilingual in Italian and English. But not in Neapolitan, which she learned to pronounce for this song (the recording was a birthday present for her Dad, Vito).

About Olivia’s name

When Olivia and my son Harry were born, the bureaucrats at the Anagrafe (public records office) in Rome wouldn’t allow us to give them a double surname (ie Dougan Naio). So we gave both of them my own surname, Dougan, as a middle name (and even that was a struggle with the unhelpful staff at the Anagrafe). The Naio surname is quite rare – Vito was the only “Naio” in the Rome phone book when we lived there, and the only other Naios we know are his brother, his sisters, and his nephew and nieces. If you happen to know anyone called Naio, please let us know in the comments (if you can – the comments function seems to be playing up).

Other posts you might like:

Language, music and me by Elisa Bonora

Singing in Occitan, beautifully

English-Italian blues

By Marian Dougan

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

Join the conversation


  1. Lovely post, Marian. I’ve listened to the song several times. Olivia has a beautiful voice and you must both be very proud of her. I’m surprised they allowed you to use Dougan as a middle name, though. Not sure that would have been allowed in Spain.

    1. Thanks, Nikki. I’ll pass on your comments to Olivia. We had a bit of a battle with the public records people – in the end we presented them with a certificate saying that “Dougan” is an ancient Celtic name used as both first and surname…

      And yes, I’m very very proud of her.

  2. I realize it is now five years later, but I just heard your rendition of Reginella and really enjoyed it. I learned the song listening to Massimo Ranieri (my mother was born in Bologna) and would be glad to share my version in MP3 format, recorded at a church coffee house in New York City in 1983. If you are interested, please respond to my email above. Thanks for keeping this great Neapolitan song alive.

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