Cantamaggio 2022 Valdichiascio

Of fertility, sex and dialectical verses

musicians, cantamaggio 2022 Gubbio, Umbria

I have been fortunate for many years to be invited to join friends and “Sing in the month of May”.

Covid said ‘adieu’ to the tradition, but his year we were able to revive it.  Such a happy occasion.  Friends meeting again to sing for the first time in three years

This evening, the 30th of April is a time to say goodbye to old things and welcome in the new. 

Traditionally an evening of song and food, where people gathered and sang moving from house to house throughout the countryside.  This happened in all parts of Tuscany and Umbria.  In the provincia of Grosetto in western Tuscany I’m told the itinerant singing went on for ten days.  Our festa is fixed, this year outside in a courtyard, but that could not stop us singing 96 verses all in Eugubine (Gubbio) dialect.

The evening started at sundown, a hearty supper of soups, quiches, home cured salamis, tasty “Crescia di Pasqua” cheese  bread, new Pecorino, wood oven baked bread and salad from the garden.  Guests had brought wines and Proseccos, the mood was light hearted and convivial.  Warm enough to sit out under the Mulberry tree.  Exquisite home baked cakes and pies, soft sweet wines downed, it was soon time to sing.

By tradition there are over 90 verses, each of two lines.  Lines get added as they are rediscovered, the skill being to place them in the context, of the other lines, the correct place in the narrative,  for this is a story.

Our determination is tested as there is a huge chorus part.  The first half of the second line is repeated twice followed by the last part of the line, so you end up singing an inordinately long song.  The subject basically is fertility, procreation and sex.  All in dialect, but even the dialectical euphemisms the meaning is clear.  Lots of mentions of pretty girls blossoming forth and attracting visitors. One line stuck in my memory, ‘my hard pipe is horizontal’.

Our singing is accompanied by Melissa on the harmonica and Martino on flute.  This year they were joined by a tambour and rattle.  We clap along, mis-pronounce the dialect, smile laugh and titter at the innuendoes.  Its a good evening to forget troubles.

Cantamaggio 2022 Valdichiascio
Singing in May in Umbria 2022

The Music is merry, we clap along to the chorus and mis-pronounce the dialect and a lot of giggling and laughter is heard.  Italo stops every few verses to suggest another swing of wine is required.  It is a delightful evening that is now a tradition in its own right.

My heartfelt thanks to Etain and Martin for being the most convivial and generous of hosts, much of the exquisite food, and the inspiration behind the evening and gathering everyone here.  Owing to Covid concerns and crowds, it may have been a smaller number than usual, however the warmth and friendship were as large as ever.

When I have mastered the blog skills better I will post a video so you too can sing along and get in the mood for welcoming in the new.  Happy May everyone.

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