Toto Cutugno whose song L’Italiano was No 1 across Europe dies at 80

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Singer’s big hit, stuffed with cliches about Italian life, was irresistible to millions as far away as Russia and Georgia

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Toto Cutugno, the singer whose cliche-ridden but irresistibly catchy L’Italiano defined ideas of Italian culture

 to millions of listeners across Europe and Russia, has died at Milan’s San Raffaelle hospital aged 80.

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Born Salvatore Cutugno to Sicilian parents in Tuscany, the singer was for a decade a regular at the Sanremo music festival

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the Italian institution that served as inspiration for the Eurovision song contest.

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He won the contest in 1980 with Solo Noi but finished in second place six times, winning him a reputation as Sanremo’s eternal runner-up.

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Reinterpreted by the French singer Dalida as Monday Tuesday … Laissez moi danser, Cutugno’s 1979 song Voglio l’anima became one of biggest hits of the disco period in France.

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He won Eurovision in 1990, with a hymn to the foundation of the European Union two years later: “Together, unite, unite, Europe”, he sang in Insieme: 1992

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But his greatest success was 1983’s L’Italiano, a song the newspaper Corriere Della Sera described as the “Christian Democrats of canzone

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Originally penned for the more charismatic singer Adriano Celentano, who turned it down

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