Can Anyone Help with an Italian Song that Starts, “Cinque e cinquanta” to the tune of “Giro Giro Tondo”?

Nicholas emailed me asking for help with an Italian song…

My grandmother used to sing me a song, and I learned it but don’t know the correct words. It goes to the melody of Giro Giro Tondo. When I first heard Giro Giro Tondo, I thought perhaps it was another verse to my grandmother’s song which, as I remember it, (and not knowing if the words even make sense) goes:

Cinque e cinquanta,
Michallina canta,
La se la canta,
Case vuole marita.

If anyone knows if this is part of a larger nursery rhyme or song, please let me know.

Nicholas G. Licata

If anyone can also help Nicholas with the words to his song and/or an English translation, please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks in advance!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2009 at 1:37 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Italian, Italian Children's Songs, Italian Nursery Rhymes, Italy, Languages, Mama Lisa, Midis, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Readers 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.

18 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with an Italian Song that Starts, “Cinque e cinquanta” to the tune of “Giro Giro Tondo”?”

  1. Nicholas Licata Says:

    After further research, I found this version of Giro Giro Tondo. I can only assume that my version was messed up over the years:

    Giro giro tondo,
    cavallo di bronzo,
    cavallo d’argento,
    che costi cinquecento.
    Cinque cinquanta,
    la mia gallina canta
    e lasciala cantare
    che si vuole maritare.
    Le vogliamo dar citrullo?
    Citrullo è troppo amaro.
    Le vogliamo dar cipolla?
    Cipolla è troppo forte.
    Le vogliamo dar la morte?
    La morte è troppo dura.
    Le vogliamo dar la luna?
    La luna è troppo bella.
    Che fa la biscottella
    ‘nzina ‘nzina Concettella,
    che fa i biscottini
    ‘nzina ‘nzina Cuncettina.

    I found several other versions with slightly different wordings, but this matches my Grandmother’s the closest.

  2. Lisa Says:

    Your version may not have been messed up. Your grandmother may have spoken an Italian dialect, so that some of the words would have been different. My grandparents spoke Italian from 100 years ago – that their parents’ spoke at the turn of the century in Italy (plus it was probably a dialect). An Italian from modern-day Italy said their Italian sounded like Shakespeare’s language sounds to us.

    Here’s what I came up with so far for an English translation. I had trouble with the ending. I welcome improvements and if someone could help complete it, that would be great!

    Turn, turn around,
    Bronze horse,
    Silver horse,
    That cost five hundred.
    Five fifty,
    My hen sings
    And let it sing
    You want to marry.
    We give the squash?
    Squash is too bitter.
    We want to give the onion?
    Onion is too strong.
    We want to give death?
    Death is too hard.
    We want to give the moon?
    The moon is too beautiful…

    I think the ending involves a cookie!

    Mama Lisa

  3. Monique Says:

    There’s a site address you’d want to bookmark it’s CEDRAV which stands for “Centro per la Documentazione e la Ricerca Antropologica in Valnerina”. It’s a sound archives site and part of the rhyme you mention can also be found in Sega moneta (last part but one of the archives)

  4. Nicholas Licata Says:

    Thank’s so much, you are probably right that the dialect was old.

    I could read the original, but also have trouble with the ending lines beginning in ‘nzina. The words in caps are proper names, but I think they are the names of the cookies. Like Biscotti Regina, etc.

    I have no idea about the ‘nzina.

  5. Nicholas Licata Says:

    Here is an alternate version.. Again the ending is a little confusing.

    “buttalo giù” ???

    Giro giro tondo,
    cavallo imperatondo,
    cavallo d’argento
    che costa cinquecento,
    la gallina canta,
    lasciala cantare
    la voglio maritare,
    le voglio dar cipolla
    cipolla è troppo forte
    le voglio dar la morte,
    la morte è troppo scura
    le voglio dar la luna,
    la luna è troppo bella
    e c’è dentro mia sorella
    che prepara i biscottini
    per i bambini;
    i bambini stanno male,
    stanno tutti all’ospedale
    l’ospedale sta lassù
    dagli un calcio
    e buttalo giù.

  6. Monique Says:

    Nzina is short for Vincenzina which is a diminutive for Vincenza (see the last line “diminutivi” in the “Varianti” part).

    Concettella and Cuncettina must be used as family names here, but are both diminutives of Conception/Concepción – btw, it’s a Spanish name, its diminutive in Sp. is Concha/Conchita and Sp. “Conchita” and It. “Concetta” sound rather close.

    “Dagli un calcio e buttalo giù” is literally “give-it a kick and throw-it down”, which would be “kick it down” in proper English. Here it seems that “dagli un calcio e buttalo giù” is about the hospital. In some versions, it’s about the kid, and then it would be “kick him/her down” – since very often those rhymes are sung to kids riding the adult’s lap and at the end the adult lets the child “fall” between his/her legs or backwards – hence “buttalo giù”.

  7. Anna Grasso Says:

    I always sang it this way to my granddaughter:

    Giro, giro tondo
    Cavallo peratondo
    Cavallo d’argento,
    Costa cinquecento
    La gallina canta,
    Lasciala cantare
    Che la voglio meritare.
    La voglio dar a cipolla,
    Cipolla é troppo forte,
    La voglio dar alla morte,
    La morte é troppo oscura,
    La voglio dar alla luna,
    La luna é troppo bella,
    C’é dentro mia sorella
    Che fa i biscottini,
    Glieli diamo ad i bambini
    I bambini stanno male
    Gira, gira all’ospedale.
    L’ospedale stà lassù,
    Dagli un calcio e buttalo giù.

  8. Anna Grasso Says:

    Dagli un cacio e buttalo giù means Give it a kick and throw it down

  9. Michael Napoli Says:

    ‘Nzina is not an Italian word it is used in, probably, a few regional vernaculars. ‘Nzina is a truncated form of in zino a and the closest Italian term is in seno a. Seno is of course the Italian word for bosom or breast but it can also be used for the geographical term for cove, inlet or bay. In fact a more common word is insenatura which translates in English as small bay or harbour.
    If one wanted to translate ‘nzina a Concettella in true Italian it would be in braccio a Concettella or in grembo a Concettella. Grembo is mainly the womb or bosom but it is also the notch, socket or hollow that is formed in a dress between the knees and the bosom of a seated woman. So ‘nzina a Concettella in English would be in or on the bosom of Little Connie or more commonly on Little Connie’s lap.

    BTW The song in question can be heard at these two websites:

    ..and the Lyrics are:

    Centocinquanta la gallina canta

    Centocinquanta, la gallina canta,
    Canta sola sola, non vuole andare a scuola,
    Gallina bianca e nera, ti dò la buona sera;
    Buona sera e buona notte, il lupo è dietro la porta,
    La porta casca giù: il lupo non c’è più!
    E’ andato sulla montagna a mangiare una castagna:
    “La castagna è tutta mia: buonanotte alla compagnia!”

    Centocinquanta la gallina canta,
    Lasciala cantare la voglio maritare;
    Le voglio dar cipolla: cipolla è troppo forte;
    Le voglio dar la morte: la morte è troppo scura;
    Le voglio dar la luna: la luna è troppo bella;
    Voglio darle mia sorella: mia sorella fa i biscottini
    E li da a tutti i bambini. Ai bambini fanno male:
    Corri, corri all’ospedale. L’ospedale sta lassù,
    Dagli un calcio e buttalo giuuuuuuuù.

  10. Lisa Says:

    Would this be a decent English translation below…

    The Hen Songs One Hundred and Fifty

    One hundred and fifty, the hen sings,
    She sings all alone, she will not go to school,
    Hen’s white and black, I bid you a good evening;
    Good evening and good night, the wolf is behind the door,
    The door falls down, the wolf is gone!
    He’s gone to the mountain to eat a chestnut:
    “The chestnut is all mine: good night to the company!”

    One hundred and fifty, the hen sings,
    Let her sing I want to marry;
    I want to give an onion: the onion is too strong;
    I want to give her death: death is much too dark;
    I want to give her the moon: the moon is much too beautiful;
    I want to give her my sister, my sister makes biscuits,
    And gives them to all the children. Children are bad:
    You run, you run to the hospital. The hospital is up there,
    Give him a football and throw it giuuuuuuuù.

    Not sure how you translate giuuuuuuuù!

  11. Michael Napoli Says:

    The title would be 150 The Hen Sings. The title is obviously taken from the first line of the song and the reason that line is actually in that form it is because cento cinquanta rhymes with canta but otherwise no particular meaning.
    Lasciala cantare la voglio maritare = Let her sing I want to marry her (or offer her to someone in marriage).
    Ai bambini fanno male = Literally they did/were bad to the children “they” meaning the little biscuits that the sister baked henceforth the running to the hospital.
    L’ospedale sta lassù, dagli un calcio e buttalo giuuuuuuuù = The hospital is up there, give it a kick and send it downnnnnn.
    Again with not too much sense other than the rhyme between lassù and giù.
    BTW you must have noticed that there is no official version of the song because tradition dictates that anyone can compile his or her own version.

    Another note about “Nzina ‘nzina Concettella/Cuncettina.
    Concettella and Cuncettina are both diminutives of Concetta i.e. Little Connie. Liitle Connie, in this case, is probably the baby’s name and the mother was singing “Nzina, ‘nzina! Concettella!” and raising the baby up at each “‘nzina”. The translation would then be: “On my lap, on my lap, (is) Little Connie”.

  12. Lisa Yannucci Says:

    Thanks for the corrections and comments Michael. If you’d ever like to record it, that would be great!


    Mama Lisa

  13. emanuela Says:

    Io insegno ai miei studenti questa versione di “Centocinquanta” che fa parte della filastrocca:

    la pecora canta
    canta il gallo
    risponde la gallina
    Madama Colombina
    s’affaccia alla finestra
    con tre colombe in testa
    Passan tre fanti
    su tre cavalli bianchi:
    bianca la sella,
    bianca la donzella,
    addio mammina bella.


    Seta moneta
    le donne di Gaeta
    che filano la seta
    la seta e la bambagia
    bambini chi vi piace
    ci piace Giovanni
    che fa cantare i galli
    la chioccia coi pulcini
    i galli e le galline
    che fanno coccodèè
    canta gallina
    fa l’ovo domattina
    vicino al gallo rosso
    vicino al gallo bianco
    che fa chicchirichìi
    Seta moneta
    le donne di Gaeta
    che filano la seta
    la filan troppo forte
    e fan tremar le porte
    le porte son d’argento
    e fanno cinquecento
    tutto il mondo canta
    canta lo gallo
    risponde la gallina
    Madama Colombina
    s’affaccia alla finestra
    con tre colombe in testa
    Passan tre fanti
    su tre cavalli bianchi:
    bianca la sella,
    bianca la donzella,
    bianco il palafreno
    Seta moneta
    le donne di Gaeta
    che filano la seta
    la seta e la bambagia….

    ….bambini vi è piaciuta?

    I teach my students this version of “One hundred and fifty”, which is part of the rhyme:
    One hundred and fifty

    One hundred and fifty
    sheep sings
    rooster sings
    answered the hen
    Madama Columbine
    looked out the window
    three doves head
    Pass through three infantry
    three white horses:
    Bianca saddle
    the white damsel
    goodbye beautiful mother.


    Silk coin
    women Gaeta
    spinning silk
    silk and cotton
    Children who do you like
    We like John
    who sing cocks
    the hen and chicks
    cocks and hens
    forming coccodèè
    singing chicken
    does the egg tomorrow
    near the red rooster
    close to white cock
    makes chicchirichìi
    Silk coin
    women Gaeta
    spinning silk
    the Filan too strong
    and fans tremble doors
    doors are silver
    and make five hundred
    one hundred and fifty
    the whole world sings
    sings the rooster
    answered the hen
    Madama Columbine
    looked out the window
    three doves head
    Pass through three infantry
    three white horses:
    Bianca saddle
    the white damsel
    the white palfrey (horse)
    Silk coin
    women Gaeta
    spinning silk
    silk and cotton ….
    children …. you like?

  14. emanuela Says:

    Sorry,the original nursery rhymes is “SILK MONEY”

  15. Lisa Says:

    That’s great! Grazie!

  16. emanuela Says:

    Lisa, perché non facciamo anche uno spazio in italiano?
    Ho tante canzoncine da pubblicare. Certe sono solo tramandate di memoria in memoria, da voce a voce. Se riesco a trovare chi mi suona la musica e magari canta, sarebbe bello!
    Che ne dici?
    Lisa, why do not we also a place in Italian?
    I have so many songs to be published. Some are only passed down from memory to memory, from voice to voice. If I can find who I played the music and maybe sing, it would be nice!
    What do you think?
    Ciao… bye bye

  17. Lisa Says:

    Hi Emanuela,

    Have you seen our Italian song pages? They’re at…

    We’re always happy to post more songs! We can also post mp3 recordings if you can send any. We do have a New York number where people can call and leave messages – singing songs.

    Does any of that sound good?

    Ciao… Lisa

  18. FILIBERTO Says:

    Viene il sole su tre cavalli d’oro,
    d’oro e d’argento che vale cinquecento.
    Cinque, cinquanta, la mia gallina canta.
    Canta sola sola
    Non vuole andare a scuola.
    Gallina nera nera, ti do la buonasera!
    Buonasera e buonanotte
    Il lupo è dietro le porte;
    la porta casca giù e il lupo non c’è più!
    È fuggito sulla montagna,
    ha trovato una castagna;
    la castagna è tutta mia
    Buonanotte alla compagnia!

    in the memory of my granMa!!

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