Italy participated in the Eurovision Song Contest frequently from 1956 to 1997. It was one of only seven countries that competed at the very first contest. The country competed in the Eurovision Song Contest 2011, marking its first participation in the contest after a 14-year absence. Italy is also one of the countries that has never done a full performance in English - only four of their entries have been performed in a mix of English and Italian.
Italy sometimes uses the "Festival di Sanremo" to choose their song, with the winner receiving first refusal to participate in Eurovision. The festival is also credited for giving the inspiration for the Eurovision concept.
The EBU had previously announced that they would work harder to bring Italy back to the contest in 2010, along with former participants Monaco and Austria, but again Italy did not participate in the contest.
On 31 December 2010, it was officially announced by the EBU that Italy would return to the contest. As it is one of the biggest contributors to the EBU, it would automatically qualify for the final, thus turning the already established "Big Four" into what is now known as the Big Five.
Italy's return to the contest proved to be successful, having always achieved a top 10 position since with the exception of 2014 (where the country placed lower than 20th) and 2016 (finishing outside the top 15). In 2021 they culminated their first win since 1990 (Måneskin - Zitti E Buoni).
The first two Italian winners set age records at the time of their win (Gigliola Cinquetti was the youngest winner at age 16 when she won 1964, whereas Toto Cutugno was the oldest when he won 1990). Both have since then been broken.