Can Anyone Help with an Italian Rhyme Where You Caress the Cheeks (Possibly about a Mouse)?

Miss Fanelli wrote:

Hello, I’m looking for any help I can find in possibly identifying what I think to be an Italian Nursery rhyme/ paddy cake game my Grandfather used to play with us kids. Our family has long since been uprooted from Italy, but being the eldest granddaughter I have felt responsible for holding onto what traditions we could. Now as I’m about to wed and most of my friends are having babies I realize we’ve lost something here. Anything you can think of would be great, places to look for more information, names of traditional paddy-cake style games that Italians play, anything at all would be much appreciated. The following is what I remember.

When I was younger my Grandfather would play a version of ‘paddy-cake’ with me. He would take my hands into his, and while reciting some poetry (of what might very well have been gibberish), he would move my hands so that I caressed my cheeks, then I would caress his. Back and forth he would move my hands until a part in this ‘poem’ where he would say “Ah no!”, at this part my hands would always land on his face – followed by a line where he would say “Ah gooy gooy gooy gooygooy!” and I would wind up gently patting myself on the cheeks. As a child the delight was that I could never win; if my hands where over his this time, or if we started on his cheeks instead of mine, I was always the one getting my cheeks patted.

My Grandfather was Italian and from what I know his Grandfather was the one to move our family to the states from Italy. As I said above this might just be a poem in gibberish, but my father and members of his generation believe it might have been an Italian nursery rhyme about a little mouse. We have no clue as to the spelling of any of this so for the moment I’ll take my best shot at it phonetically. It sounds like this…

Ah moo-zha-zhill.
Ah-gazhty- a- ta
Ah- ya-tia-ta.
Ah no
ah gooy gooy gooy gooy gooy

Like I said this is a rough English phonetic spelling of something that as far as I know was in Italian. Then again Grandpa made it harder still by always changing the words or adding a line or two so that I always wound up clapping my own face. The long and short of it is this is about all I know…. any suggestions?

Thank you for your time
Miss Genevieve C. Fanelli

If anyone can help with this nursery rhyme, or if you have any suggestions to help find it, please comment below.


-Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Monday, October 29th, 2007 at 12:29 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Games Around the World, Italian, Italian Nursery Rhymes, Italy, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Patty Cake Rhymes, Questions, Readers Questions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

79 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with an Italian Rhyme Where You Caress the Cheeks (Possibly about a Mouse)?”

  1. Roslyn Merritt Says:

    I remember my great grandfather telling the same type of story caressing the cheeks as he tells the story he goes faster, says phonetically “mooshamasheel, _______ageal, a few more words and almost slapping our face where our face would be red. My grandmother said it was about a cat. It makes sense like petting a cat and well you know how cats are. I looked this up just now because I have a coworker whose mother-in-law told the same story to her great grandchildren. I almost fell off my chair when she mentioned it because I haven’t heard it since the 60’s. Sorry I can’t help, as I have grandparents from Italy, but I don’t speak Italian.

  2. Lisa Says:

    It’s funny – because I just posted the question and I didn’t realize it’s probably the one my grandmother did with my kids. (Seeing the way Roslyn wrote it made it occur to me that it might be the same rhyme.) I recorded my grandmother saying it a couple of years ago. It’s called Micio Miagolio – at least in the dialect she spoke – click the link to read it and hear it – and see if it’s the one you’re looking for.

    -Mama Lisa

  3. Roslyn Merritt Says:

    That’s it!! How funny… I just emailed this site to my coworker and one of my sisters.

    Thank you!

  4. Lisa Says:

    Glad I could help jog those memories!

    Does this sound like the one you’re looking for Genevieve?

  5. Nancy Says:

    You all made me laugh because I have been trying to remember the rhyme for such a long time. My grandmother and mother would always do this with the little ones and it was about a cat. But the only difference, the last words I remember were pussy cat, pussy cat, pussy cat with a tap on the cheek. Thanks for such a wonderful memory and the words.

  6. Jana Says:

    Thank goodness!
    I’ve been going nuts trying to find this over the past ten years. My papa told the same rhyme. thanks!

  7. Michelina Says:

    my grandmother used to do this one:

    Moosha moosha moosha
    duce brute

  8. Melissa Says:

    I am of Italian american descent. My family is from the Abbruzzi region in Italy. My husbands family is also from Abbruzzi and his parents immigrated to the USA in the late 1940’s. When we had our first child, my mother-in-law would hold our daughters hands in hers and stroke the cheeks while reciting mooshalaud, mooshaloud, mooshalaud, and then pat the cheeks quickly reciting poop,poop,poop,poop. I have been looking for this on the internet, not knowing how to spell or even if it was the correct pronounciation. Thanks so much for sharing, great site! My best friend who is Italian and from the same region remembers her grandfather doing this same thing to her as a child.

  9. John Says:

    I have been looking for the SAME thing!

    Here’s what I know with a phonetic spelling:

    Muzhail, gatta ga-tale
    oo pane ou cas’
    porta la cas’, porta la cas, porta la cas’

  10. Adelina Says:

    This is brilliant! My Grandfather, and then my Dad used to do this with us, and now I have a daughter, my husband and I do it too!! Although I am sure this is the same rhyme, phonetically, this is how we would say it…

    A tu a tee
    A tu a toe
    A BELLA CHAVEAU” (lots of slapping!)

    I know the spelling at the end makes it look of French origin, but that’s just phonetically. How funny, i’ll try and remember the correct version from now on! THANK YOU! xxx

  11. S Says:

    Is this it?

    Batti batti le manine
    che verrà papà
    porterà bonbon
    e la bimba mangerà.

  12. Susan Says:

    This is so bizarre! I guess the regional dialects play a big part in the pronunciation. My Italian grandfather used to do the same thing and somehow I thought it had to do with cheese. He was born and raised in Provinzio Campo Basso. I can only repeat it phonetically:

    Moozha moozhail (stroke cheeks)
    pon e got tail ” ”
    cazhee de got ” ”
    too fen a bot (slapping cheeks)

    Of course this was when I was a baby and I might not have it right.

  13. Kailen Says:

    I remember my grandmother doing this to me! I think she combined two of them though. Like Susan, I remember it being about cheese. She did it in English for me once and part of it came out to be “I went to my grandmother’s house.” “what did she give you?” “Cheese” …and some other stuff I can’t remember. Through searching I’ve found a similar rhyme on this site but the one she did sounds more like the ones people have suggested, with the cheek patting and her saying “moosha mia”
    Maybe she did just combine the two?

  14. Sunny Says:

    My father used to play a game with us kids, stroking our cheeking and saying the following. I can’t find the correct italian words but the sounded like this:
    and ended with
    domasot, domasot, domasot
    I would love to know what it means and if we have it correct!

  15. Celeste Says:

    My grandma used to sing this to us.

    Baty Lamanina caveta a’papa
    porti ey conguni celesta mangia.

    I am sure I was WAY off with the spelling

  16. Judy Says:

    My parents (now deceased) and my grandparents used to stroke our cheeks and say something like, mushe a muchel, stroke again, pon a cazelle, stroke again, pon a ricotte, then tap tap tap eck in a bot. Spelling is off, but thats what we now sing to our grandchildren and they love it. Mom told us it meant something like smooth as something, while as something- I wish I would have pressed them for the meaning- hindsight.

  17. Susan Gatti Says:

    Our family was from Calabria. The rhyme went something like this:

    Moosha mia, moosha tu
    A dove esta? (where did you go?)
    De a Nan (to grandmother’s)
    Qui t’a da?(what did she give you?)
    I forget this line, but the translation is that “she gave me bread”

  18. Julie Says:

    My grandmother’s family was from the napoli area and as children we recited: (phonetic)

    Moosha Mushel
    Vata tel
    Moosha Mushone
    Vata tone
    Bella scepatone

    My Nana Philomena taught us to brush her cheeks, then ours and do this back and forth until the last line where you would gently pat her cheeks repeatedly. She is 90 years old this month and has suffered from Alzheimers for years now. Though she doesn’t recognize me, she does recognize the poem from time to time!

  19. Kat Says:

    My grandmother was from the heel of the boot region. I remember her calling the cat “gatterella”. Is there a different version with that?

  20. Edward Gripp Says:

    My grandmother, Clemtine Campiglia said while strocking my cheeks. mushel mushel la doci sta,la cit ta ma ,la ala ca la fuggi fuggi la ca. I know the spelling is not right but I was told that it meant the cat the cat he chase the rat the rat the rat he eats the cheese.

  21. Melissa D'Imperio Says:

    My Nana was from Calabria and Papa from Campobasso. She would take our hands in hers and gently stroke down our cheeks slowly and then the last line of the rhyme she’d say it fast and be quick. Phonetically:
    Misha moosheel
    bonna kasheel
    quanto sei bella

  22. Donna Segulin Says:

    Melissa D’Imperio my family is from the same region and your poem sounds the closest. My mom did this when i was little. She held my wrists and my hands did the stroking and slapping (not hard of course!).This is how mine sounds phonetically:
    Moojshee moojsheel (little mousy, little mousy) stroke babys face
    Pahn ah cahjsheel (some bread, some cheese) stroke your face
    Du bauga te (some for you) stroke babys face
    Du bauga me (some for me) stroke your face
    Du bauga le fil de le roi (and some for the son of the king) say very fast while slapping babys face

  23. rose belfiore Says:

    Translated into English:
    With my own hands stroking face being held by Grandma’s.

    Pussycat mine,
    Where have you been
    At Thomas’s
    And what did he give you
    Bread and Cheese
    Will you give me a little?
    Frusta Frusta Da! (with Grandma’s hands over mine slapping my face)

  24. rose belfiore Says:

    Rose Belfiore

  25. Susie Charlton Says:

    Hello, my family passed down this similar children’s rhyme for many generations!! But it was recited in French! The rhyme is about a pussy cat:
    Minou La Chat
    A Manage’
    Toute Le Creme
    Toute, Toute, Toute, Toute!
    Meaning: Pussy cat, ate all the cream, all of it, all of it, all of it, all of it!
    Please write back if anyone receives my note! I am so excited to finally find someone else’s post about this lovely children’s rhyme that means the world to our family, too! ~ Susie in Ohio

  26. Teresa Says:

    We’ve been trying to figure out a nursey rhyme my nonna used to tell us too. She was from Frosinone. Same idea – rubbing cheeks saying mizela. The story is about a cat hiding cheese in a hole and the mouse steeling it and the cat meow crying with tickling at end. Any ideas???

  27. Paula Says:

    I too have been trying to figure out a nursery rhyme my grandmother from Caserta used to do with the infants in the family 50 years ago. I never knew what the words meant. It did not involve stroking the cheeks, just slowly stroking the palm of the hand with hers, and repeating 4 or 5 lines, ending with clapping the infants hand. Best I can remember phonetically something like
    Bata moni
    Cuta de oni
    La bu dace
    Tupade gace! (on the clap)

    Could this be the same cat rhyme folks are referring to?

  28. Lisa Says:

    Can anyone help with this version below? (i.e. The meaning and correct spelling.)

    Hi there! I’m still trying to find the meaning of a nursery rhyme that sounds like this ( I have no idea how to spell the words) Moosha machelle, pana cashelle, pana racott, toofula but.
    Thanks everyone!

  29. Lisa Says:

    Here’s a question about a similar rhyme:

    Hello Lisa.

    My 60 year old brother and I are trying to find the words to a sing-sing rhyme
    our father sang to us while sitting on his lap facing him. He would take the palms
    of our hands and rub them downward from his ear to his chin across his unshaven stubble
    of his beard.

    he would say (spelling? not sure of?)

    mushi mushi ahh
    mushi mushi ahh (while rubbing our hands down his face)
    then he would say
    a ketch um a don? (which we think mave ave been? what do you want to eat or taste?)
    mangiare il pane (which we are sure was eat the bread)
    mangiare il pesce (eat the fish)

    again rubbing our hands across his face, children laughing as beard is rough
    then end with:

    muchi mushi ahh (lightly patting his cheeks with the palms of our hands or our childrens hands etc..)

    thank you in advance with any insight or direction you may be able to afford to us.

    Michael & Tony

  30. Debbie Mastranduono Says:

    I’ve also been trying also to find information on this for a long time. Finally instead of trying to type the words into Google, I finally smartened up and just typed in “Italian song sung to babies while rubbing cheeks” lol
    My Mom used to recite something similar this to all the children while caressing their cheeks. She learned it from my Grandparents (not sure which…Grandmom or Grandpop) who were from Venafro Italy (although we were told for years that they were from Abruzzo) …Anyway my Mother’s version was different and longer…I will try to spell the words how they sound to me..she would either have the baby’s hands rubbing her cheeks as she did it or she would have them rubbing their own (I think) ..and she would say..Moozshee Moozshay.. A-Yah-tih… Yah-tay…Un-doozee-stah….Ah-Lee-mee-kah…Kissee-de-fah….Kah-talih-jibo …Sib-it-tah-da- may…..SHEEE…Un-doozi-mase…Un-Gah-pee-squah…..Moozshee Moozshee Moozshee Moozshee Moozshhh <<<when she got to the last part she would rub their cheeks back and forth fast… I have no clue what it means and would LOVE to know!! Thanks to anyone who can help!

  31. Debbie Mastranduono Says:

    This may be easier
    Moozshee Moozshay
    Ah yahti yahtay
    Un doozee stah
    Ah leemee ka
    Kissa de fah
    Ka talih jibo
    Sib it tah dah may
    SHEE <this was a pause…then the rest would be faster
    Un doozee Mase
    Un gah pee squah

  32. HD Says:

    My husband’s grandmother used to do a similar ‘game’ only she was Albanian. Anyone know the words in Albanian?

  33. Jan Says:

    The face/hand game I remember started slowly, with my dad holding my hands and brushing my cheeks, then his , then went faster and faster with tickling at the end.

    Moosha, mooshella, atta tella, a do si gouda , che sa vacca, frutte di vacca!!

  34. Paul W. Says:

    My wife’s family is from Naples, and she will recite it thusly: mooshama je, “quatra de”, bringing her hands gently down the other person’s cheeks, (and then the boop, boop boop, boop, but gently on the tip of the nose, not the cheeks).

  35. Bob W. Says:

    We’re mostly Italian-Polish. This is what we grew up with
    Does anybody know the real words and what they mean?
    Phonetically Pronouced:
    butta butta butta!

    Also, the touching of a baby’s head with yours


  36. katie Says:

    Susan Charlton,

    My grandmother used to recite the same kind of rhyme. She would take my hand and stroke her cheek with it twice. With each stroke she would say (sp?) Meenush. Then she’d gently slap her cheek with my hand and say, dah dah dah dah. She is French Canadian so I am assuming it is French. She is american born so maybe it is the same rhyme you are talking about but she forgot some of the words. I’ve asked her what it means and she has no idea. I can’t wait to talk to her and tell her about your post!

  37. Monique Says:

    This “meenush” is “minouche” which means “kitty”. There’s a version on this forum that goes “minouche, minouche (tu prends ses mains et tu caresses ton visage), tape, tape, tape, roule, roule, roule, pique, pique pique.” which translates as “Kitty, kitty (you take the baby’s hands and stroke your face), pat, pat, pat, roll, roll, roll, sting, sting, sting.”

  38. Lisa Says:

    That’s interesting! There are two very similar rhymes: ones Italian and the other is French!

  39. Eloise Says:

    Lol, I looked this up because I wanted an actual translation. All these years and I’ve never bothered, and people tend to make up stuff when you learn phonetically. We still do this, my mum and aunty did this to me as a kid (same with my sister and cousins), now my niece and cousin’s children have it done to them. My niece (8 months) finds it hilarious when mum does it to her, hands or feet.
    Trouble is, I forget how fickle some dialects are. My family immigrated in the 50s, nonno was from outside of Naples and nonna’s family were outside of Rome. So I’m not entirely certain where this is from, I suspect from my nonna moreso than nonno.
    We do the slap/pat on the cheeks (I could make a joke here about how rough both Rome and Naples are… My mum said that nonna used to do this thing asking “do you want to go to Rome or Naples?”, grab the person’s ears and basically no matter which one was answered, you pull forwards for Rome, backwards for Naples, either way both rough).

    Micio miagolio (Stroke your face; loose translation: pussy cat meow)
    Gatto gattino (Stroke child’s face; loose translation: kitty cat (lit. cat kitten))
    Micio miagolio (Stroke your face; loose translation: pussy cat meow)
    A bella [bella] scapaccione (Slap/tap child’s cheek; literal translation: a beautiful, [beautiful] slap).

    Loses something in translation but as a kid, hilarious.
    Depends who is doing it at the time on how many times bella/bello is said, just going with the flow.

  40. Lisa Says:

    My grandmother’s family was from Naples and they did a version of this rhyme.

  41. Teirra Says:

    My great great grandfather played a game with my great grandfather who played it with my grandfather who played it with my father, who played it with me, who plays it with my children, it is similar to what people are saying however with different words and I have no clue what the translation is. This is how it sounds, not necessary what the actual words.

    Moosh-ma-shay (hands run down cheeks)
    Pada-ma-shay ” ”
    Soulle-va ” ”
    Toulea-va toulea-va toulea-va (pat cheeks with each time the word is said)

    My 1 year old daughter is obsessed with it, she wakes up in the middle of the night and will start patting her cheeks and laugh. I really want to figure out the game, it seems it was played several ways.

  42. Toni Picariello Says:

    My cousin was asking the same question: This is what he & all of us remember:

    Moosha musheel, yahd yahd deel, doeseque,cuttaleeyahd, vooska voose voose vooska:….. i am sur thats not spelled correctly what so ever, but I am sure ya’ll remember that

    My grandfather said it and caressed our cheeks as he said it. He immigrated from Puglia in the 1920’s.

  43. Tony Phillips (Galasso) Says:

    Our Italian roots are from Benivento.
    Here is an explanation as to why we believe ours to have morphed over the years. From my great grandmother to my children, it hasn’t had the most direct chain of posession so-to-speak.
    My paternal Great-Grandmother immigrated in 1908. She did the rhyme with mother in 1950 (presumably also with my grandfather in the 20s) And died in 1955. My Mother doesn’t remember this, but learned it when her mother who was not Italian followed her mother in-law’s-lead, and did it with her younger children. My Mom (who was by then a teenager) picked it up from this, and did it with me. I don’t remember this, so I learned it from my mother doing it with my kids. Funny how it seems to skip a generation that way.
    Ours goes:(starting stroking the child’s hands on either side of your face, alternating and ending with their face)


    My mother has since self-editted the last line into “Belissimo” assuming that that is what it must have actually been. So now when I say “Beljcafone” my 3 year old son says “That’s not how it goes!”

    I’m actually surprised how similar ours is to some of yours.
    Thanks to everyone for posting.

  44. Catarina Says:

    I just stumbled upon this, but I figured I’d share my family’s version.
    We are Italian-American, my grandfather’s Napolitan, but this game is in my grandmother’s Calabrian dialect:

    Mooshi mooshilu (Kitty kitty)
    Pan e cazzillu (Bread and croquettes)
    Mangia ricotta (Eat ricotta)
    Mi na la botta (Now I hit you…)

    The whole time, you’re stroking the baby’s face with their own hands until the last line when you make the baby gently slap themselves with their own hands.

    I’m sure all regions have their own versions, but that is the one that we grew up with.
    Hope this helps!

  45. Mary Says:

    Same type- while running hands down face- I can’t totally remember it- and the spelling is probably all wrong
    a tutto mio,
    dove sei stato,
    a dove nonna,
    che ti a dato,
    e che piu?
    e dona schcaffo

  46. Monique Says:

    Here it goes:
    Gattutto mio = my little kitten
    dove sei stato? = where did you go?
    dalla nonna, = to grandma’s
    che ti ha dato? = what did she give you?
    pane e formaggio, = bread and cheese
    e che piu? = and what else?
    mi ha dato uno schiaffo = she game me a slap.

    I suppose it’s the kind of rhyme in which you pat the baby’s face at the end of the last line.

  47. Christy Ogle Says:

    I too have been searching for years for a rhyme my grandma used to say to me when I was a child. She was italian and the words sounded italian but I do not know for sure. The rhyme I remember involved hands caressing down the cheeks and then tickling undrr the chin at the end. It went something like this…
    mishi mishella
    mama a bella
    papa a bruto
    como choo choo choo choo

    I am sure this is just a small part of it. While the idea of it is similar to many others, the words are quite different. I am so happy to see so many people searching for the same thing and trying to keep these traditions alive. I just wish I would have learned it better when grandma was still with us.

  48. Meghan DiFilippo Says:

    Oh my gosh!!! I am so happy I came across this. I have been looking for this. My no no used to sing this to me all the time. My dad hasn’t been able to remember it lately. I want to teach my husband if so he can do this to our daughter.

  49. Toni Rachiele Says:

    Muza Muziella
    Dove si stato?
    A la casa de Mama.
    Che si mangiato?
    Pane e caso.
    E la parta mia, dove?
    Qui qui qui qui qui!

    My father used to translate it for us so we would learn some Italian:

    Muza Muziella,
    Where have you been?
    At Mama’s house.
    What did you eat?
    Bread and cheese.
    And my part, where is it?
    Here here here here here.

    Forgive attempts to render Calabrian dialect.
    The qui qui qui was accompanied with tickles under the chin.”

  50. Sarah Jane Says:

    We used to play this game and I’m writing it phonetically

    Mooshi Mooshi
    panna ca she
    pizza ricott
    *slap the face* poof a la bot

  51. Joanne Says:

    Correction :
    Mesh a Michelle
    Cat a catelle
    Pana cazelle
    Ah May nu merod
    Mesha mesha mesha mesha

  52. Joanne Says:

    Meesha Michelle
    Cat a catelle
    A May nu merod
    Meesha mesha meesha.
    ( left out a line) lol

  53. Savina Says:

    My grandmother used to say this while stroking our palms (unsure of spelling):
    Ma nina beya
    Fata peneya
    Obidi bengata
    Gati, gati, gati (while tickling the hand).
    Can anyone help me with this?

  54. Monique Says:

    I found the rhyme below here. This is Friulan dialect:
    Adult: “Manìna bèla, fata pinèla, induà sòtu stàda?”
    Child: “Ulà da la nòna”
    Adult: “E se ti àia dàt?”
    Child: “Polènta e làt”…
    Adult: ”Gàti, gàti, gàtiiii”

    Adult: “Beautiful hand, perfectly made, where have you been?”
    Child: “At grandma’s”
    Adult: “What did she give you?”
    Child: “Polenta and milk”…
    Adult: ”Gàti, gàti, gàtiiii”

    I haven’t the faintest idea of what “obidi bengata” may mean

  55. Jan Says:

    I don’t know the Italian but it sounded like this and involved a cow and it asked the cow where it was going.. Phonetically: Moosha Mushella, atta tella, a do si guda, che sa vaca fruita di vaca!!

  56. Lynn Says:

    Mousche ma shell
    Pane ca shell
    Pane ricott
    Tooflabut tooflabut tooflabut

    There’s my phonetic version of MamaLena’ s little song

    And for the first 3 lines was nice stroking of the face and there’s little pats on the cheeks for those last three words

    I was told later by a relative a translation as follows

    Nice Kittycat
    Bread and cheese
    Bread and ricotta
    Patticake, Patticake, Patticake.

  57. Dano Says:

    Back in the 50s my Pop Pop said something like:
    Mooshay, mooshay, (rubbed my head) bonna mooshay, rubbed my face) bonna de gut (tickled my tummy)
    Spell check hated that!

  58. Angela Says:

    I was born in italy and sang our version with my children….spelling probably incorrect looked it up as i wanted to embroidery it on a blanket for my first grandchild.
    Mish mishelle
    Gatto gatille
    Che te si mangiato sa sera
    Pane e chicillo
    Mish mish mish mish

    – -kitty kitten
    Cat catty
    What did u eat tonight
    Bread and meat
    Mish mish mish mish

  59. Christina Says:

    I hope this conversation is still active— I’m looking for an Italian children’s song that caresses the checks too, but it begins with the letter P. I don’t have a clue about the spelling, but I remember the n sounding like a spanish n. It was something like Piedeñya. Driving me crazy.

  60. Karen Says:

    I remember this game well but can’t remember another one. My mother was from Naples region and father from Rome. My dad would take my hand and stroke it while saying “cui c’e una Bella ragazza..” It also had the words “pane” and (phonetically) “cachine”. It ended very similarly to the mooshi endings but there was no tapping of the faces. Does anyone know this? It’s driving me crazy. My parents have both passed and my daughters only remember the first line like I do.

  61. Karen Says:

    Please let me know if you know this. Thanks.

  62. Jo Says:

    OK – very similar experiences as all of the above but my Mum from near Benevento used to say this ( phonetically) whilst stroking cheeks:
    (Then patting cheeks..)
    Bechiafony Bechiafony Bechaifony


  63. Laurel Says:

    This is a shot in the dark but I found this thread trying to decipher something similar my great-grandfather (Italian) did with me, and now my dad does it with my kids.

    He slowly strokes their cheeks, saying (and this is how it sounds, phonetically):

    moo-zi ah

    pan-tay la

    kiss-ah mangia (“eat,” I know this part!)

    inesette (maybe?)

    pan-che pet

    frushna frushna cay-nay-na-vey! (this part is faster than the rest)

    Any ideas what the translation is in English? Or even what the real Italian words are?

  64. L Tucci Says:

    How funny! I was trying to find the translation of an Italian thing my dad would do and his granny cerone would do to him as a child. They were from Calabria/Muro Lucano. My dad would caress my face from forehead to chin saying “michell-a-mia” a few times then lightly slap saying “ah ah ah”. I do it now with my children and they love it and anticipate the ah ah ah tap with tons of laughter! It sounds like it may have been originally something from here but a little changed through generations. Sound similar to anyone? Gracie!

  65. Lia Says:

    in the Catanzaro province of Calabria, the kids’ cat song goes like this (phonetically)…while you caress a child’s cheeks slowly and then get faster…

    ti mangiasti u’ pescecheju
    perchi a mia non me ne dasti?
    Brutticheju, Brutticheju, Brutticheju!!!!


    Little cat,
    you ate the little fish,
    why didn’t you give me any?
    Ugly, ugly, ugly!


  66. D phipps Says:

    I learned it this way

    Moosha musheel
    Gato gateel
    Que hai mangiato
    Pan e quesil
    E non mi hai dato niente?
    Moosha moosha moosha
    It’s about a cat who ate bread and cheese and didn’t share it
    All said while patting child’s cheeks

  67. Linda Says:

    I just searched for this. My father was from Crucole in Calabria, Italy. He used to do this to me as a small child. I am surprised by so many versions! How wonderful that other experienced this wonderful bonding game. I always think of my father fondly when I remember it. I remember the tune he used but never knew the words. Thank you all for contributing all this information.

  68. Sharyn guarino Says:

    I’m so thankful I found this site! I have such wonderful memories of sitting on my grandpas lap while he sang that to me. Now I know why he nicknamed me “Pussycat:” I couldn’t be happier right at this moment!

  69. Gina DeSantis Says:

    My response is totally phonetic! My grandparents were from Cansano, Italy. So here it goes; in English phonetics:

    Moo Jhay ott; a pan a chach; a pan a vin, a la cantin, a zay bambene, a whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. whoosh!

    The Italian spelling is atrocious, yet this is what I remember hearing!

  70. Bob Belickis Says:

    Lisa’s response back in October 2007 is spot on accurate. (Micio Miagolio)
    My Grandpa, from Benevento, used to do that with me over 60 years ago.

  71. Trace Viesta Says:

    Hi everyone,

    My grandparents are from Abruzzo, Italy and always used to do this rhyme. I saw that everyone has different versions but ours is:

    Moosha Moosha Mia
    Che cosa mangiavi ieri sera?
    Pane e pera
    Mooshy Mooshy Mooshy Mooshy

    My Moosha Moosha
    What did you eat last night?
    Bread and pears
    Mooshy Mooshy Mooshy Mooshy

  72. Steven Barbaro Says:

    My Neapolitan nonna would say this nursery rhyme to me and my siblings. Phonetically it sounded like this:

    Moosha moosheel ( motions of rubbing our cheeks)

    Gatta gatt’deel (cat, little cat)

    O mio du sta? (Where are you hiding?)

    In the bottaseel (In the little boot)

    In the bottaseel

    shesh shesh shesh ( Supposedly the cat jumps out of the boot and the motion is scratching our face)

  73. Debi Colosimo Says:

    I remember my father doing this!!
    My parents were from Colosimi, Cosenza.
    What I remember is a little different.
    Of course this phonetically (Sorry) but I thought It started out with,
    “Vashoots, vashoots, (cat in dialect?) or maybe it was mashoots
    A dove sta? (Where did u go?)
    De a nan (to grandma’s?)
    Qui t’a da? (What did you do?)
    …and I can’t remember the rest!!

    Anyone ?

  74. Maria Limosano Says:

    My mum had a Molise version, similar actions to what many of you described. The words were…

    Mush, Machin
    Pane E formagin
    Pane E ricotta
    Zubba zubba la Botta.

    To translate I only really new the middle lines, bread and cheese, bread and ricotta.

  75. steven moscato donatello Says:

    My Nana and Papa from Calabria did something similar:


    Mizzah Michelle (my Michelle)
    Katzahtelle (Little Kitten)
    Dozah stazah (where are you going?)
    Dozah bredeh (to see the priest)
    Kay deh dadda (what does he have?)
    Panne e cotta (bread and cheese).

    The last line was the same as someone above stated, but I only remember the english traslation:

    Will you give me some?


    If anyone knows the last line in phonetic dialect, please send it to me.

  76. Gina Parisi Says:

    I am so excited that I found this page. I just became a grandma and was thinking back to when my dad did this little game to me and my son. Although I only remember him saying 4 words before the patting of my cheeks I am sure all regions in Italy have their own version. It’s beautiful that we all have these great memories of our relatives. I have been brushing up on my nursery rhymes and wanted to hand down my dad’s version,. Here it goes..spelled phonetically.
    Boogety boogety boogety.
    I am curious if anyone else heard this version. The family is from San Bartolomeo in Galdo in Campania near Naples. I will definitely be coming back to this page. No matter if we find the correct way to say the rhyme or not, it’s the fun we will have with our children and grandchildren. Singing and playing in person not on a phone or video.

  77. Shirley DiRisio Says:

    I thought about this tonight and I thought I would never find it. I found this first try. I just wanted to cry because my Mom is not with us anymore for me to ask her about it. My Grandma had been gone for several years. It’s a fond memory. I hardly remember any of it. But I do remember my grandmother doing this and I always got a kick out of it. I always asked her to do it. I’m not realizing it’s about a cat. I wonder if she did this because she knew I love cats . Ty all for sharing❤️

  78. Janis Sansone Says:

    I don’t know correct spelling: Moosha moushella, atta tella, a dO se gooda, che sa vacca, fruita da vacca!

    It’s something like little one where did you go, to find the cow etc

  79. Marilyn Montano Says:

    My mother’s family (maiden name Marie Antoinette Anello) was from Catanzaro. My father’s family (Philip Ernest Montano) was from Reggio Calabria. I have been searching for information on this poem as well. Our version is Mushadisha, Dostajestabeshadesh, Mini Mini Minash, Mush, Mush Mush. I know the spelling is all wrong and I have no idea what it means. You take your hands and cup the child’s face at each word at the end you cup your hands and gently tap the child’s cheeks!!! Any ideas:):):)

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