The Isle of Wight [L’Isola di Wight]
by Luke Archer
Coming from an island that is not always known in the UK results in many cases of: ‘do you need a passport to get there?’, ‘do I need to change currency?’ or even, ‘do you have roads/schools/houses?’. Then there’s the ‘I’ve heard of the Isle of Wight’ brigade, who proceed to state facts ad infinitum about the Isle of Man instead, ‘it’s the place with its own government, and the cats… the cats without tails’. For clarity’s sake, the Isle of Wight is part of England (and its government) and therefore does not need a passport – or a trip to the bureau de change – to visit. Our cats also have tails.
Regularly hearing such oversights, much to an Islander’s chagrin, I was therefore surprised to find that a lot of Italians have actually heard of it, ‘There’s a song!, There’s a song!’. I was wondering for quite a while how Derek Sandy’s iconic song about the Island reached Italy, but I was (pleasantly) surprised when I started to have this song sung to me; accompanied by enthusiastic swaying.
Thanks to this Italian hit from the early 70s, the Isle of Wight is still celebrating a subdued sense of fame on the continent, forty years on.
As translating the lyrics word-for-word is beyond my current level of Italian, I’ll do my best to give an overview:
- Man comes to the Isle of Wight, because it’s for young people, with blue eyes, who sing ‘hippie hippie’.
- Man goes to the market to buy a long coat and gold lamé.
- He spots a woman, surely a mirage, in white.
- They go somewhere (to the Isle of Wight festival?) on a Thursday, without a suitcase.
- They are surrounded by a shower of butterflies, share their youth and become unstoppable.
It should be no surprise it’s such a hit, with a story-line like that. Gone are the days when a chance encounter at a gold lamé market stall would lead to an unstoppable romance, powered by a shower of butterflies. That is except for during the Bestival, of course. The most Isle of Wight time of the year, where gold lamé and butterfly showers are not the exception, but the rule.