A Grandmother’s Italian Rocking Song

Michele Schroeder wrote me…

My grandmother (Noni) Julia Iacobitti Grimani, was from Gioia dei Marsi (East of Roma in the Abruzzi Mountains). She came to America after most of her family was killed in the 1915 earthquake.

Noni sat us on her lap, face to face and rocked us back and forth while singing…

S’taccia, S’taccia

S’taccia, S’taccia (sift, sift)
Pane bianco le faccia (bread white) (make? face?)
Le faccia con la riccota (make with riccota)

Bucca na botta! (hole?) (napotta-cup?)
Bucca na botta!!

S’taccia, Staccione
mi fa camicciola
una bianca, una rosa

Bucca na botta!
Bucca na botta!!

Of course we can only guess at the spelling since it came to us verbally. This is as close as I, my two sisters and my 84-year-old mother could come to the SOUND of the original.

My mother insists that “faccia” (said facce’) does NOT mean “face”, but “make”. She didn’t know what “bucca na botta” meant, but says it’s definitely “na” between the words. When we looked in the Italian dictionary, all we could find was the word “napotta” meaning cup. The closest word to “bucca” we found, was spelled “buco” which means “hole”. The meaning of the phrase then could be “hole in the cup” since they were making bread.

Thank-you for keeping the nursery rhymes alive, I hope this is helpful to others as well. Maybe someone reading your web-site will recognize my grandmother’s little rocking song and be able to help with the translation.


Michele Schroeder

Please write me if you can help with this song. Thanks! -Lisa

For other Italian rhymes and children’s songs, visit Mama Lisa’s World’s Italy Page!

This article was posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2005 at 8:03 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Italian, Italian Children's Songs, Italian Nursery Rhymes, Italy, Languages, Questions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

10 Responses to “A Grandmother’s Italian Rocking Song”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Mike wrote…


    I don’t know if this is any help, but anyway. My daughter just had our first granddaughter, and your song is remarkably like one my grandmother sang. It started out with the same first word as yours but I remember the next word and minacha (that is a phonetic spelling) then the line Babo gito casa. If I remember, it was about a chicken because it ended Kicka di ki. Or something like an Italian chicken sound.

    I too remember my Nonni clapping my hands together while on her lap facing her. Myb the way my great grandfather was from Fosatto di vico in Perugia. Anyway can’t help with this one, but I’m still looking for mine.


    Mike Hogard

  2. Future Nonna Says:

    Where can I find out how to pronounce “Nonna”

  3. Monique Says:

    It’s /’nonna/ in IPA (International Phonetic Association) transcription, i.e. non-nah stressed on the first syllable for an English speaker

  4. Gioia Says:

    Hi everyone,

    my Dad’s family is from Gioia dei Marsi too and my grandparents also lost their families in the earthquake of 13th January 1915.

    I grew up in Rome but kept my connections with the Abruzzo region. I have been leaving outside Italy for several years now.

    I can help with a couple of things. First of all, the song is in “abruzzese” dialect, hence an Italian dictonary will not necessarily help!

    “na” is an abbreviation for “una”, i.e. a, an in English.

    I agree that “faccia” does not mean “face” in this particular context, but “make” it’s the subjunctive of the verb “fare”).

    “Bucca”…pass, I don’t know.

    “Botta” could be in place of “botte”, i.e. barrel, cask. Or it could be “botta” as in smack, hit.

    “Camicciola” means a small shirt.

    “Bianca” means white and “rosa” means pink.

    Hope this helps!

    Gioia Falcone

  5. Lisa S. Says:

    Ack- this is the closest I’ve gotten to figuring out the song my Grandma used to sing. We rocked with me facing her and then on the last line she would open her legs so I could fall (while holding me of course!)…

    I’m trying to play this with my children, but all I can do are nonsense words because I have no idea of the real lyrics.

    I think our version ended with “botte nel mare” but that’s all I can figure out.

    Any help would be appreciated!

  6. Lisa Says:

    Perhaps that would be “butta nel mare”.

    Which I think would be something like “throw it into the sea”.


  7. Lisa S. Says:

    butta nel mare – that’s it! That was the line where my grandma would open her legs so I would drop through… Now if I can figure out the rest I’ll have it made…

    Word of advice to anyone reading this. If you speak another language, have foreign cultural knowledge – PLEASE share it with your children – they will love it someday, and you may be their only source!

  8. Mary Grace Dembeck Says:

    Does anyone know a rhyme that begins “PRUCI PRUCI A ROMA”?

    My mother used to hold me on her knee and sing this to me. As I recall, it was something about a cow and a fire, and the cow’s hide was made into *caramels*. (Sounds a bit nutty, but then many children’s rhymes sound odd when read carefully).

  9. Melanie B Says:

    Oh my, I am in tears. My grandfather from Lanciano d’Abruzzo sang this song to my siblings and I. We always made up the words besides S’taccia. But from what I’ve read, the lyrics sound right. Thank you so much!

  10. Annette Says:

    This is what we are working on from my family from Isernia.

    Sti Stacha, Sti Stacha
    Stia figlia cha mi di faci
    La yetta a la luna strata
    Si la pe la qualcle si altza lee
    Va la mama sei
    Dama dama sta figlio meo

    Italian does not translate exactly but is more of a poetic representation when trying to convert. we think it means the following:

    I rock you, I rock you
    My daughter that does this
    I threw her up in the air
    Someone picks her up
    Goes the mother saying
    Give me, give me back this daughter of mine.

    Figlio (daughter)

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