"Torna a Surriento" ([ˈtɔrn a ssurˈrjendə]) is a Neapolitan song composed in 1902 by Italian musician Ernesto De Curtis to words by his brother, the poet and painter Giambattista De Curtis. The song was copyrighted officially in 1905, and has since become one of the most popular songs of this traditional genre, which include others such as O sole mio, Funiculì, funiculà, and Santa Lucia.
"Torna a Surriento" has been sung by performers as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Beniamino Gigli, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Enrico Caruso, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Ruggero Raimondi, Meat Loaf, Mario Lanza, Franco Corelli, Robertino Loreti, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Muslim Magomayev, Francesco Albanese, Jerry Adriani, Roberto Carlos, Alfie Boe, Anna Calvi, Karel Gott, and Norton Buffalo with George Kahumoku, Jr.; Sergio Franchi covered the song in his 1962 RCA Victor Red Seal debut album, (Romantic Italian Songs), which peaked at #17 on the Billboard Top 200.
Claude Aveling wrote the English language lyrics, which are titled "Come Back to Sorrento". Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman re-arranged it and wrote a new set of lyrics for Elvis Presley ("Surrender").
In the television show The Honeymooners, Ralph Kramden identifies the song in preparing for his appearance on a quiz show called "The $99,000 Answer." He mistakenly identifies it as "Take Me Back to Sorrento" and says it was written by "Ernesto Dequista," which his friend Ed Norton says is "absolutely correct."
Tradition holds that the origin of the song dates to 1902, when Guglielmo Tramontano, mayor of Sorrento asked his friend Giambattista De Curtis to write the song for the Prime Minister Giuseppe Zanardelli, then vacationing at his seaside hotel, the Imperial Hotel Tramontano; it was claimed that the piece was meant to celebrate Zanardelli's stay.
Some claim the song is a plea to Zanardelli to keep his promise to help the impoverished city of Sorrento, which was especially in need of a sewage system. The song reflects the beauty of the city's great surroundings and the love and passion of its citizens.
More recent research indicates that the song may merely have been reworked for the occasion; family papers indicate that the brothers deposited a copy with the Italian Society of Authors and Editors in 1894, eight years before they claimed to have written it.