A Gift from Babbo Natale: 7 Classic Italian Christmas Songs

Ever gone Christmas caroling?

If so, did you know that you’re part of a historic Italian holiday tradition?

That’s right. Christmas carols are actually said to have originated in Italy!

The earliest Christmas hymns that records show come from Rome in the 4th century, and later in history the Italian saint Francis of Assisi helped popularize Christmas carols.

Today Christmas carols are a beloved tradition all over the world!

And the best part?

These Christmas carols can help you learn essential Italian skills!

We’ll show you seven classic Italian Christmas songs to get you in the holiday spirit, plus tips for language learners to get the most out of them.

Can Italian Christmas Songs Really Help You Learn the Language?

You’ll be rockin’ around the Christmas tree—but will your language skills really benefit?

The research says yes. Studies show that using music in language studies can boost your learning curve. That’s likely because adding rhymes and rhythm to your practice helps your ability to recall what you’ve learned. Even outside of language learning, a common study tip is to pair facts with a tune to increase your memorization ability.

Music also offers a creative alternative to typical language learning techniques, which can keep you motivated and foster an emotional connection to the content. It also helps your understanding of a place’s culture and history—especially several of these classic carols that’ve been passed down through generations.

Not to mention the exposure you’ll get to Italian vocabulary and important grammar concepts! In the songs below, we’ll point out specific lyrics that are noteworthy for language learners.

Plus, it’s just super fun to sing along with Christmas tunes! You might find that you even already know some of these songs in English.

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7 Classic Italian Christmas Songs for a Buon Natale

Here are some of Italy’s most popular canzoni di Natale, or Christmas carols.

Note: Some Italian words lose their final vowel in songs and poems. Throughout this post, when noting specific vocabulary from the song lyrics, we’ve added dropped vowels back in parentheses.

1. “Astro Del Ciel”

Find it on: Spotify and YouTube

Though the lyrics are vastly different, listeners will immediately recognize the music of “Astro Del Ciel” as the English carol “Silent Night.”

Astro del ciel, Pargol divin (Star of the sky, heavenly child)

Mite Agnello Redentor (Gentle lamb, Redeemer)

Tu che i vati da lungi sognar (You, of whom the prophets dreamed for so long)

Tu che angeliche voci nunziar (You, who angelic voices announce)

Luce dona alle genti (Illuminate the people)

Pace infondi nei cuore (Peace fills the heart)

The lyrical content of “Astro Del Ciel” is completely different from its English counterpart. That said, the Italian lyrics are a great source of simple vocabulary for beginners to learn!

Several words from the song are ones that you would often see in beginner Italian tutorials, such as:

  • Ciel(o) (sky)
  • Agnello (lamb)
  • Genti (people)
  • Pace (peace)
  • Cuore (heart)

It also features several simple and articulated prepositions, which are important grammatical tools. It covers:

  • del (of the)
  • che (that)
  • alle (to the)
  • nei (in the)

2. “Il Tamburino”

Find it on: Spotify and YouTube

This song is a childhood favorite, and another tune that’s recognizable! “Il Tamburino” is the Italian version of “The Little Drummer Boy.”

Sulla strada, pa rum pa pam pam (On the road)

Un tamburino và, pa rum pa pam pam (A little drummer goes)

Al ritmo del suo cuor, pa rum pa pam pam (To the rhythm of his heart)

Segnando il passo va, pa rum pa pam pam (Marking his steps, they go)

Rum pa pam pam, Rum pa pam pam

Bimbo dimmi un pò, pa rum pa pam pam (Child, tell me)

Dove vai tu? (Where are you going?)

The lyrics for this song are a little bit more advanced, but it makes a great learning piece. There are a variety of articulated prepositions and conjunctions that are useful to know, such as:

  • Sulla (on the)
  • Al (to the)
  • Un (a)
  • Dove (where)

It also shows multiple conjugations of the verb andare, which means “to go.”

  • Và (You go; imperative)
  • Va (He goes; present)
  • Vai (You go; present)

Along with grammatical lessons, “Il Tamburino” can also teach some intermediate Italian vocabulary such as strada (road) and segnando (marking; gerund form), as well as musical terminology such as tamburino (drummer) and ritmo (rhythm).

These are all words that you probably wouldn’t come across until further into your Italian studies. But now you can sing them!

3. “Caro Gesù Bambino”

Find it on: Spotify and YouTube

This is an Italian carol, with no English equivalent. It’s a slow, lullaby-style song with simple dialogue, as it’s sung from the perspective of a child.

Caro Gesù bambino (Dear baby Jesus)

Tu che sei tanto buono (You who are so good)

Fammi questo piacer (Do me a favor)

Lascia una volta il cielo (Leave the sky one day)

E vieni a giocar (And come play)

The lyrics tell a simple story of a young child who wants to play with the baby Jesus, and this basic style offers many words that are good to know.

There are descriptive words, such as caro (dear) and buono (good). There are also intermediate vocabulary words such as piacer(e) (favor) and una volta (one time).

Be on the lookout as well for both simple and advanced verb conjugations:

  • Sei (You are; present)
  • Fammi (Fa [you do] plus mi [my]; informal imperative)
  • Lascia (You leave; imperative)
  • Giocar(e) (To play)

4. “Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle”

Find it on: Spotify and YouTube

This carol has been dubbed “the most popular Christmas song in Italy.” It’s a traditional Italian Christmas song—one of the first carols most children learn!

Tu scendi dalle stelle (You came down from the stars)

O Re del Cielo (Oh, King of the Heaven)

E vieni in una grotta (You came in a cave)

Al freddo al gelo (To the cold, to the frost)

O Bambino mio Divino (Oh, my Holy Child)

Io ti vedo qui a tremar (I see you trembling here)

O Dio Beato (Oh, Blessed God)

Ah, quanto ti costò (How much did it cost you)

L’avermi amato (To have loved me)

This carol contains a lot of religious vocabulary that you may not find in beginner Italian lessons:

  • Cielo (heaven/sky)
  • Divino (holy)
  • Dio (God)
  • Beato (blessed)

It also has another example of the informal imperativeavermi (“have” plus “me”).

5. “Mille Cherubini in Coro”

Find it on: Spotify and YouTube

This Christmas carol was originally written in German by renowned composer Franz Schubert. It was translated into Italian and is now a favorite among celebrated Italian performers like Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti.

Mille cherubini in coro (A thousand cherubs in chorus)

Ti sorridono dal ciel (Smile at you from heaven)

Una dolce canzone (A sweet song)

T’accarezza il crin (Caresses your head)

Una man ti guida lieve (A gentle hand guides you)

Fra le nuvole d’or (Through golden clouds)

Sognando e vegliando (Dreaming and watching)

Su te, mio tesor (Over you, my treasure)

Proteggendo il tuo cammin (Protecting you on your way)

If you like talking music you’re in luck, because there are some great musical words in this song!

  • Coro (chorus/choir)
  • Canzone (song)

The lyrics also include several useful simple and articulated prepositions to learn:

  • In (in)
  • Dal (from)
  • Fra (through)
  • Su (over)

6. “Bianco Natale”

Find it on: Spotify and YouTube

This is one of the most classic Christmas carols you can find, no matter what language it’s sung in! You may already know “Bianco Natale” as “White Christmas.”

Col bianco tuo candor, neve (With your sincere whiteness, snow)

Sai dar la gioia ad ogni cuor (You bring joy to every heart)

È Natale ancora (It’s Christmas again)

La grande festa (The big celebration)

Che sa tutti conquistar (That overcomes everyone)

Un canto vien dal ciel, lento (A song comes from Heaven, slowly)

Che con la neve dona a noi (Which gives snow to us)

Un Natale pieno d’amor (A Christmas full of love)

Un Natale di felicità (A Christmas of happiness)

Do you find yourself talking about feelings often? If so, this song has lots of great vocabulary for you such as gioia (joy), amor(e) (love) and felicità (happiness).

There are also many important words from a variety of grammatical categories, including:

  • Col (with)
  • Ad (to)
  • È (it is; conjugated from essere)
  • Che (that/which)

7. “Lettera a Pinocchio” (“Letter to Pinocchio”)

Find it on: Spotify and YouTube

This carol was written in 1959 for a children’s song festival and was popularized by Italian singer Johnny Dorelli. Pinocchio is a classic Italian children’s story about a sentient wooden puppet whose nose grows when he lies. The song depicts a child writing to their childhood friend, Pinocchio, and reminiscing about their stories.

Carissimo Pinocchio (Dearest Pinocchio)

Amico dei giorni più lieti (Friend of my happiest days)

Di tutti i miei segreti (All of my secrets)

Che confidavo a te (That I entrusted to you)

Carissimo Pinocchio (Dearest Pinocchio)

Ricordi quand’ero bambino (Remember when I was a child)

Nel bianco mio lettino (In my little white bed)

Ti sfogliai, ti parlai (I read with you, I talked to you)

Ti sognai (I dreamed of you)

The really neat thing we see in these lyrics is a collection of examples of the passato remoto, or remote past. This is the tense for describing the distant past. Sfogliaiparlai and sognai are all conjugated in the passato remoto.

An interesting thing to note about the passato remoto is that although it represents the distant past, many people in southern Italy use it for the recent past as well!


These Italian Christmas carols are a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit while also practicing your pronunciation, learning grammar and expanding your vocabulary!

Buon Natale! (Merry Christmas!)

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