Question about an Italian Nursery Rhyme Game

Maria wrote me…

My father was from Volpago, Italy. His mother died when he was quite young. Rso, my Zia became the surrogate mother to the three younger siblings.

I remember her petting the palm of my hand from heel to fingertip and saying these words…

Manina bella
fata panella
dova sen data
date la nona

…and she would tickle the palm of my hand and say, Giddie, giddie, giddie!.

I’m sure my spelling is way off but, perhaps you can decipher it. I would so appreciate any help so, I can play with my great grandchildren as Zia did with me.

Thank you so much.


If anyone is familiar with this rhyme, or can offer any help, please comment below.

If you’re interested in other Nursery Rhymes and Songs from Italy, come visit the Mama Lisa’s World Italy Page.



This article was posted on Monday, January 16th, 2006 at 5:29 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Italian, Italian Nursery Rhymes, Italy, Languages, Mama Lisa, 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.

11 Responses to “Question about an Italian Nursery Rhyme Game”

  1. Monique Says:

    It looks like this one

    Manina bella, Pretty little hand
    fatta a pennello, Wonderfully made
    dove sei andata? Where did you go?
    dalla nonnina. At granny’s
    Cosa ti ha dato? What did she give you?
    pane, vino, latte Bread, wine, milk
    Gatte, gatte, gatte. Cats, cats, cats

  2. Lisa Says:

    Monique later wrote…

    I didn’t add that “gatte” in Italian = she-cats. I actually found it at where there are 5 of them, that’s the one the most similar to the one she sent. The others come from where you can hear a guy recite them.

    I found these two which are said to be in a Venetian dialect:

    Manìna bela,
    Fata penèla,
    dove sétu stata?
    Dala nòna.
    Cossa te àla dat?
    Pan e late,
    Gate, gate, gate!

    Manìna bela,
    Fata penèla,
    dove sétu stata?
    Dala nòna.
    A far còssa?
    A magnàr pan e late,
    Gate, gate, gate!

    I found this one too :

    Manìna bèla,
    fata a penèla,
    dove sito ‘ndata?
    Da la me nona.
    E cossa gatu magnà?
    Polenta e làte
    gate gate gate.

    Thanks Monique!

  3. venegazzu Says:

    Hi, I’am from Volpago.

    Gate, gate, gate means I tickle, tickle, tickle you.

    The filastrocca works by petting the palm of the hand from heel to fingertip many times (1) manina bela, 2) fatta a penela 3) dove sei stata, ecc.).

    After this petting the plam of the hand gets a little bit sore, so the final tickle works very well.

    Little kids (2-4 years old) enjoy this old game.


  4. Norm Says:

    My wife’s Mom would say this version of “Manina bella”:

    Manina bella,
    Fata penela,
    Andove se statu?
    Da la nona,
    A mangiare,
    Polenta e latte!
    Gitte, gatte, gitte, gatte….!

  5. Lisa Says:

    My grandmother had something similar, she was from Verona.. I am going to type it out the best I can

    Manina bella
    tu sorrella
    du statu sta?
    Del la mama, e bu pa

    Cosi date
    panin y late
    Gitte Gitte Gitte Gitte

    There was another one where she bounced me on her knee

    Trotta trotta cavolino
    andelemo Bardolino
    a comprar y figi sticky
    parle y pecoli bultelitti
    bultelitti no le voul
    butaleso el balcon!

  6. Lisa Says:

    I received this question recently:

    Hi, an Italian man taught me a rhyme in Italian that has same rhythm and use as “Eenie meenie miney mo” in English. ( he was choosing something and using the rhyme) he tried to translate it but I can’t find it so far! He said it was something like ” pear, apple, tell me the truth, don’t tell me lies but tell me the truth” .. “Pela, mela, …” Do you know this one?! It was so cute I wish I could remember. Thank you

    Does this ring a bell for anyone?

  7. Naiara Says:

    Podrias indicarme tu correo para una propuesta comercial?

  8. Lisa Says:

    Mi correo es

  9. Laura Says:

    In Veneto:
    Manina be’a
    Fatt’a penea
    Do’e sito sta
    Da me cugna
    Cosa ghetto magna
    Pan e latte
    Gatte, gatte, gatte, gatte.

    Beautiful little hand
    Made so well (made with the perfect strokes of a brush – pennello)
    Where have you been
    To my sister in law (for the sake of the rhyme as Nonna doesn’t have the same accent)
    What did you eat
    Bread and milk
    Tickle, tickle, tickle, tickle. (that’s what “gatte” means in Veneto)

  10. Kevin Filippin Says:

    What is it called though?

  11. Zara Says:

    I’m from Brescia, and my Nonna used to say:

    Manina bella
    (Beautiful little hand)
    Dove sei stata?
    (Where have you been?)
    Dalla Nonnina
    (To the Granny)
    Cosa ti ha dato?
    (What she gave you?)
    Polenta, Ciccì
    (Polenta and ragù/meat)
    Ghiri, ghiri, ghiri
    (Tickle, tickle, tickle)

    At the end you tickle the child’s palm

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