Do You Know the Italian Song “Mano Mano Morte” and/or an Italian Version of “Mi Chacra”?

Robert wrote me:

Hello Mama Lisa. I really enjoy your website. Grazie!
I am an adult learning Italian, and would like an easy Italian children’s song to teach my American students.

I know the song “Come to see my farm” (Mi Chacra) in Spanish, and would LOVE to find it translated into Italian. Do you know of any such translation? If not, I can use the McDonald’s farm translation.

Also, have you any info on “Mano Mano Morte”? My mother, from Salerno region, used to play this with me–shaking my hand, which was “dead,” there was a wolf at the door, etc. Do you have the words?

Robert Di Giulio

We have the Italian version of Old Mc Donald Had a Farm with a literal English translation. You can click the link to get to the song page.

If anyone can help out with “Mano Mano Morte” or “Come to see my farm” (Mi Chacra), please comment below. (I’d also love to be able to post the lyrics to “Mi Chacra” in Spanish and English, if anyone can provide those.)



This article was posted on Friday, April 13th, 2007 at 5:59 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, English, Italian, Italian Children's Songs, Italy, Languages, Questions, Readers Questions, Spain, Spanish, Spanish Kids Songs. 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.

17 Responses to “Do You Know the Italian Song “Mano Mano Morte” and/or an Italian Version of “Mi Chacra”?”

  1. claudia Says:

    my grandmother sang this song to me and then to my children – i am going to ask my mother for the exact words, but they go SOMETHING like this:

    mano mano morta
    dio la conforta
    di pan’ e di vino
    tira un sciaffino

    my children HATED it because the person saying it, takes the little one’s hand and “waves”it and then with the last line, makes the hand give a little slap on the cheek – let me ask my mother if i am right or waaaay off!

  2. Lisa Says:

    Thanks! An English translation would be greatly appreciated too. I came up with…

    Dead lady’s hand, hand,
    God comforts it,
    With bread and with wine
    Pull a ?

    (Corrections are appreciated.) I can’t find the word sciaffino anywhere – it must be either misspelled or maybe from a dialect.

    It will be interesting to see the different versions of this song. I’ve come across a couple of other ones – but none with the wolf. Does anyone know one with a wolf at the door like Bob was looking for?

    Feel free to post different versions below (preferably with English translations).


  3. Monique Says:

    Mano mano morta translates as “hand, hand, dead” = “dead hand-hand”. (it’s just that “hand” is repeated). You won’t find “sciaffino” in a dictionary because it’s “schiaffino” = small “schiaffo”, “uno schiaffo” being a slap. “Tirare uno schiaffo” means to give a slap. I’d say that as “dead hand hand” would sound better in English as “Dead, dead hand”, it’d be:
    “Dead, dead hand
    God comforts it
    With bread and with wine,
    It gives a slap”

  4. Lisa Says:


  5. Rosa Cotrona Says:

    I come from Calabria and I remember:

    Mano mano morta
    Dio che ti comporta
    Un pezzetino di pane
    Un poccatino di vino
    peri tup etti n’to mussino!

    Dead hand hand
    God that holds you up
    A little piece of bread
    A little bit of wine
    (Made up word)peri tupetti on the little mouth!
    As you would make the child’s hand give himself a little on the mouth.

    Peri tup etti

  6. Lucia Bini Says:

    My parents come from Friuli and I learnt this one:

    Mano mano morta
    che batte sulla porta
    Buum! (repeat several times at different tempos!)

    Dad would sit me on his lap and shake my floppy hand and then tap me on the forehead with it at the buum! The idea of course is to fight being hit by your own hand so it was an enjoyable game.
    He also used to run his hand down my face and say “it’s easy going down, but not so easy going up” (because your nose gets in the way!) I thougth this was funny too!

  7. Pat Says:

    This is how my mom sings it, from the Veneto region:

    Man, man, morta
    che peta su la porta
    che peta sul rastrelo
    deghe na sciafa a sto putelo
    sto putelo no ghe ze
    deghe na sciafa a chi che ghe ze.

    You hold child hand waving it about and at the end you make his hand tap his cheek!
    I remember not enjoying it, but my children loved it!

  8. gloria raimonde Says:

    My grandfather played this with us too…
    He held my hands, touched my face, his face and then I got a little slap…
    What I remember doesn’t sound anything like this.
    My mom is in her final days and one of my nieces is trying so hard to remember the words. It would comfort her so much if I could have the translation from Benevento.

  9. Miguel Says:

    I remember a similar song my Grandmother used to sing but it was “Mano Mano Minuto” and a translation of a “kiss for you a kiss for me”…. Does anyone know this in English and Italian?

  10. Jessica Says:

    That is the exact one I am looking for where you take the child’s hands and rub your face and theirs, then there is a little slaps on the face. Of course I don’t remember the words, my grandfather use to sing it to me… I am trying to find it. Thanks

  11. Helena Says:

    My late grandmother used to say this to us and also to my kids (her great-grandkids). She was born in the US, but her family came from Cosenza, Calabria. I know that the Italian she spoke was such a different dialect that northern Italians did not understand most of what she said. I know it was very common for her to eliminate any vowel at the end of a word ie. ricott, manicott. I want to say this rhyme to my kids to keep her memory alive, but I think the pronunciation is so off that it is nonsense.

    How it was said by my family: (phonetically)

    Mano mano mortay
    Dee tay chee coo mort
    Santo chica deena
    Santo chica deen
    Mangia pana, biva veen
    *Boop* (said while tapping baby’s limp hand against forehead)

    How I think it is supposed to be said, but I could be WAY wrong:

    Mano mano morte (Hand, dead hand)
    Dio ti che comforte (God comfort you)
    Santo chi que tino (Bless this vat(?))
    Santo chicco tino (Bless this grain tub(?))
    Mangia pane, bevande vino. (Eats bread, drinks wine.)

    Anyone who can clarify this or correct me would make me very happy. Thank you in advance!

  12. K Campo Says:

    My father in law said something like this to my children:
    (forgive the phonics)
    Mano, mano morte
    Dio chi conforte
    A mano, a mano (very slowly)
    A che che cavalier (very fast -slapping their hands together)
    (they would laugh like crazy) a wonderful memory for them.
    My husband is from Sicily and he never heard of it!!!!!!
    We are going crazy to try to find the right words for my granddaugher……????

  13. Gilby Rizzo Says:

    My grandmother, also from Cosenza, Calabria, used to sing a similar rhyme:
    Mano, mano morta (my hand was supposed to be soft)
    Pizza c’a ricotta
    Mano, mano viva,
    Pizza catonina! (my hand was supposed to slap my own face)
    And at the last verse, when I knew I was going to be slapped I stiffened my hand to avoid the slap.
    I guess she was trying to teach me how to foresee danger or the slap.

  14. Peter Caproni Says:

    My great-grandmother grew up in Castelvecchio di Pascoli near Barga, Italy.My three-year old memory of the phonetic words that went with the pretend slap game:
    Mano Mano Morte
    Ti cu tem forte
    Pane, vino
    I think the second line may have been the “Dio chi conforte” from above,
    and the last line may have been close to “tira un sciaffino”
    Thanks to you all; this puzzle brings back very fond memories!

  15. Mariaeleana Says:

    The one my papa did with us was way different. I can’t even type the words because I’m not even sure they are real words. Mano mano morta are correct and somewhere in the nursery rhyme is the word comforta. He did it clapping our hands together through the entire rhyme and ending with him using our hands to pat his cheeks and ours saying ta ta ta. If this sounds familiar to anyone please let me know the full version. I will quantify this by saying in not quite sure where my grandparents got their Italian words because I never know how to spell what they said. We used to have goospedi when we were children not knowing that really it was crispeddi. Mortashedi used to come. We didn’t have biscotti we had bisquata. Get the picture? But really with our version of mano mano morta would be appreciated if anyone has a clue.

  16. Susan Courrejou Says:

    My mother-in-law’s maiden name was Tonini. Her parents came from Pieve Vergonte, Italy, and Airolo, Switzerland. She used to chant something like this to my kids. Only it was:

    Mana morta, mana morta
    Pica la porta!

    She’d clap the baby’s hands for the first line, and tap the hands on the baby’s head for “pica la porta.” Now I want to know how to spell the words, and save it for my grandkids.

  17. Lisa Says:

    Susan – You can find the words and translation to Mano Morta here. The link includes other versions in the notes.

    Cheers! Mama Lisa

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