Italian Children’s Rhymes


As with all cultures, special songs are sung to children to nurture them, play with them, or lull them to sleep.  Being that my parents were Italian and did not know any American children’s songs, I was sung to in Italian when I was a child.  It has been many years since I thought of these songs, but was reminded of them when a friend made a facebook post about poppies.  I know, what a strange way to be reminded of children’s songs, but, in fact, one of the songs that was sung to me as a child was about poppies! 

Lo sai che i papaveri son’alti, alti, alti…

Ma tu sei piccolina, ma tu sei piccolina.

Lo sai che i papaveri son’alti, alti, alti…

Ma tu sei piccolina, che cosa ci vuoi fa?


You know that poppies are tall, tall, tall…

But you are very small, you are very small.

You know that poppies are tall, tall, tall…

But you are very small, and there’s nothing you can do about that.

When my daughters were little, my mom used to trot them up and down on her lap, with a song in dialect that she used to sing to me too so many years ago.  The movement of trotting up and down on her lap was  just that extra bit of fun that this song imparted:

Trot, trot, cavalot…

Giu di pe, su di mot…

Bon pan, bon vin…

Va trottar quel cavalin!


Gallop, gallop, big horse.

Up and down the path.

Good bread, good wine,

Makes that horse gallop even more!

No rhyming in English, but the silliness is still there!

And then the final rhyme I remember is the “ring around the rosies”  song:

Giro, giro tondo…

Casca il mondo.

Casca la terra, tutti giu per terra!


The world circles round…

The world falls down.

The earth falls down…and we all fall down!

After going around in a circle singing this song, we all fall to the ground at the end – laughing all the way!  What fun times as children we all had with these silly little songs!

17 responses »

  1. Anche io ho sentito da piccolo “i papaveri sono alti” e anche “mamma mia dammi cento lire…” che era canzone da emigranti. Mio nonna mi raccontava una variante della canzone del cavallo; mi metteva su una ginocchia e, tenendomi, faceva andare su e giù la gamba simulando una corsa a cavallo e diceva “trotta trotta cavallon porta al sàc al tò paròn, quan t’è stud da porterarl tràla in tàl canèl” e sulla parola finale mi lasciava andare per riprendermi subito scatenando le mie risa.
    Anche io l’ho fatto con mio nipote, ma non ricordavo gli effetti collaterali così appena finita la canzoncina mio nipote diceva: “ancora ancora trotta cavallon” e finiva che passavo dei pomeriggi a farlo saltare sulle ginocchia 🙂

    • Ho fatto un errore :asd: è “stùf” non “stud” e tradotta in italiano, dal dialetto, è: “trotta trotta cavallone, porta il sacco del tuo padrone, quando sei stufo di portarlo buttalo nel canale”, ma in dialetto suona meglio 🙂

    • Bello!! Grazie, Gabriele, per la storia! Anche le mie figlie ci piaceva tanto la trotta sulle gambe!!! Cos’e “mamma mia dammi cento lire…”? – non l’ho mai sentita (almeno non me la ricordo).

  2. Qui ne puoi trovare il testo: Mio padre cantava la versione che nel link è chiamata “alternativa”. Non so chi l’abbia scritta, non credo si sappia, ma di certo non è una canzona allegra.
    Mi ricordo che cantava anche “se potessi avere mille lire al mese”; tutte canzoni che cantava quando mi portava con sé a lavorare 🙂
    Mi ricordo anche che quando ero piccolo e tutti i bambini si trovavano a giocare a volte si cantava anche “madama Doré”…adesso mi fermo 😉

    • Ha! Ha! Grazie!!! Anch’io in inglese ne conosco tantissime che si cantava a scuola, ecc – canzone che si cantava quando si saltava a corda, quelle che si cantava quando si doveva scegliere chi era “it” per nascondiglio, ecc. Quanti bei ricordi 🙂

  3. 1930-1940, I remember my Nonno telling us stories about the adventures of a little bean…”fazzolin”.
    He was always lost among the other beans. Were there such stories or were these stories he created?
    Thanks for any help.
    I have memories of the Trot,Trot while bouncing on his knee.
    A wonderful gentle Grandfather

      • Hello,
        I just found the lyrics to Trot, Trot on the internet through a cousin who looked up nursery rhymes. I wondered if you were still blogging as I hadn’t seen recent dates. I have strong connections back to your part of Italy as my grandfather was born in Ispra in 1884, and we spent many hours with him in the USA after he immigrated here, learning about our heritage.
        As in most folks songs, we have some different lyrics especially at the end of the song, but even my kids got bounced on his knee to this song.

      • Hi Judy, I was very excited to hear about someone else from Ispra! What was your grandfather’s name? Does the family still live there? Maybe my parents know the family! I still blog, but not as much as I used to….finding the time seems to be difficult but comments like yours inspire me! Making these connections is the essence of writing a blog. I look forward to your reply! Thanks so much for taking the time to drop me a note.

      • Hello,
        The name of my paternal grandfather was Colombo Graglia, and he left there in early 1900’s.
        He did return in 1924 and brought his new bride, whose surname was Bregani, back to the USA.
        I have been to Ispra for a summer while in high school, many years agol

        And yes, we still have relatives there who own a wine distributorship in town.
        What are your parents names?

  4. Correct! Paternal Grandparents from Sesto Calende. I am happy my cousin found your site while looking for childrens songs. I will have fun exploring it. Will still search for origin of stories of “Little Bean”.

    • Wow, Nancy, I know Sesto Calende well! My cousin lives there, and I visit it often. My parents immigrated from Ispra, which is about a half hour north of Sesto Calende! What a small world. When did your grandfather immigrate? And are you in the USA? I always love making connections so close to my Italian home!

      • Lucky you, having family in Sesto! Grandfather immigrated in 1907, if I recall correctly. They settled in Ohio. We are retired and living in Ohio also. Will check into your site often. Date: Tue, 6 Oct 2015 22:31:08 +0000 To:

      • Do you still have family there? Maybe my cousin knows them! I just asked my friends and relatives in Italy if they’ve heard of the little bean story, so I’ll let you know if I find out anything! Thanks for visiting and I hope to see you again soon.

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