The Italian Song “Sega sega mastro Ciccio”, plus Someone’s Looking for the Lyrics to “Saga, Saga Master Cheech”

Marie wrote me…


Have you ever heard of a song that says, “Saga, saga master cheech, this is the casa of san Francesco”?

My mother said it means “Saw, saw master Francisco, this is the house of the lord.”

I would like to hear the song.

Thank you,


I asked Monique, who speaks Italian, and she wrote…

It sounds a little like the Italian song, Sega sega mastro Ciccio

Sega sega mastro Ciccio

Sega sega mastro Ciccio
una patatina e una salsiccia
la salsiccia ce la mangiamo
e la patatina ce la conserviamo

which literally means in English:

Saw saw, master Ciccio,
A little potato and a sausage
The sausage, we eat it
And the little potato, we keep it.

Thanks Monique!

If anyone is familiar with Marie’s song, please comment below. If you’d like to send a midi or recording, please email me.



This article was posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2006 at 2:37 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Italian, Italian Children's Songs, 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.

50 Responses to “The Italian Song “Sega sega mastro Ciccio”, plus Someone’s Looking for the Lyrics to “Saga, Saga Master Cheech””

  1. dan maffeo Says:

    i have an alternate song of the Sega Sega master ciccio that my grandmother used to sing to me;

    Sega Sega master ciccio
    ob onell’ e u salsicc’
    u salsicc a gia mangiam
    ob onell’ e gia stibam

  2. Adriana Says:

    I’m Italian, from Naples!
    My mother used to sing to me (…and now I sing to my nephews) this song!
    The lirics I know are these (in Neapolitan dialect), but there are little different versions in other parts of Southern Italy:
    «Sega, sega mastu Ciccio,
    na panèlla e nu sasiccio;
    ‘o sasiccio c’ ‘o mangiammo
    e a panella c’ ‘a stipammo.
    c’ ‘a stipàmmo pe’ Natale,
    quanno vènene ‘e zampugnàre!!»

    «Saw saw, master Ciccio (=Francesco),
    A round loaf and a sausage
    The sausage, we eat it
    And the round loaf, we keep it.
    We keep it for the Christmas period
    when the pipers (=players of reed-pipe) arrive.»

    A question for Don Maffeo: when and where your grandmother was born?
    And when did she leave Italy? Where did she emigrate? It’s interesting for my studies just about these popolar songs!!!

  3. dan maffeo Says:

    you can email me at b/c its easier for me to find you there. What you wrote is what i was trying to spell; you know more than me obviously. I’m pretty interested too although i didn’t know the last two lines. I’ll ask my grandmother more about her history (im 17 yrs old); i’m sure she’ll know and then i’ll write back! thanks
    dan maffeo

  4. dennis Says:

    my grandmother used to sing this to me too when she would
    feed me as a baby. She was from Naples also.

  5. Ralph Says:

    I’ve been looking for the lyrics to this song for years and years. My great-grandfather used to sing it to my brother’s and I when we were children. He too was from Naples.

    Not understanding the Italian, I was never sure of the lyrics.

    I shall teach it to my daughter now.

    Thank you so much!

  6. donna Says:

    My grandmother used to sing this to me as a little girl and even when i got older. I recently started singing this to my boys and didn’t know exactly what the words meant.

    She was also from naples and the words were slightly different:

    Saga, saga masta cicchi
    la panella salsicci

  7. donna Says:

    It’s so nice to hear other people talking about a song from my childhood.

  8. Lisa Says:

    My Nanny (from Naples) sang this to me. My mom now sings it to my niece.
    My grandmother came here at 16 so the words we sing are kind of made up at this point (nobody else speaks “real” Italian in my family).

    Met a girl at work who heard me singing it one day and said she knew it too!

    I spent years trying to find another Italian who knew it. Everyone thought i was nuts!

    I bought an Italian record with a song Sega Sega on it – but it wasn’t it. It was a disco song!

  9. Chris M. Says:

    I am looking for the complete verses to a rhyme (and I am not familiar with the spelling as I am not Italian). My Mother-in-law used to play this with my children. She was form Pedivigliano in Calabria. You hold baby standing up on your lap and rock her/him back and forth while holding their hands saying: Yetala, Yetala
    Mare, Mare
    Si lupe, e pisce cana.
    I am looking for the rest of the verse and its translation. Thanks Chris

  10. Katy Says:

    My husband’s grandfather sang this song to our niece and our son. We have him on video tape singing it, but it’s kind of hard to understand exactly what he’s saying to be able to sing it ourselves. He passed away this week so I was thrilled to find these words here! My husband is very glad to be able to continue the tradition of singing this song to our children.


  11. Carolyn Says:

    Wow, there are so many versions of the chant!
    My grandmother grew up in Milan, born in 1927.
    The version she told me was (forgive any horrific italian spelling)

    “sega sega mastro ciccio
    una panello, una salsiccio,
    una per me, una per te,
    y una por il filio del rei”

    It’s interesting to see the majority of those who have learned it had their relatives from Naples…yet my grandmother’s slightly different version was from Milan…very interesting.

  12. Valerie Says:

    As I remember the song, it went “Sega, sega marinara, bogourina si u bona, ah minesta camanouoz, sega sega bacalla.” Please excusre the spelling. My Grandmother was from Naples italy also.

  13. janet Says:

    my father used to sing this to me, but i never knew the words. however there was one part (the ending) that sounded like this sega sega do ta do, does anyone know this

  14. antonella Says:

    anch’io cantavo questa ninna ai miei figli ma era anche così:

    sega sega nu vogl sega, teng (il nome del figlio) maria ra spusà e a chi a vulimm ra bubiti bubiti ba…..


    English translation of comment:

    I used to sing this lullaby to my children too, but it went this way:

    sega sega nu vogl sega, teng (child’s name) maria ra spusà e a chi a vulimm ra bubiti bubiti ba

  15. Lisa Says:

    Hi Antonella,

    I wonder if you could translate your rhyme?
    “Potrebbe mandarci una traduzione per favore?”

    Or if anyone else can translate Antonella’s rhyme that’s just above into English for us that would be great!

    Thanks in advance.

    -Mama Lisa

  16. Fatma Says:

    Hi all…i happened to find this page becuz am looking for a latin or spanish dance song that i used to listen to it back in the 90’s in spain it kinda goes like “sega sega then something sege sega” am not sure if its sega or seka or segay please e-mail me at

  17. Janet Says:

    does anyone know where i can buy the music and lyrics to the song?

  18. Marie Says:

    My father in law sang a song that sounded like “u day chella” and the end of the song was “da ding da ding” and he would tweek my daughter’s nose. I thought the song was a about a friar or priest and had somthing to do with ringing a bell. Any help would be appreciated. (I am not Italian so the ‘lyrics’ are phonetic!”

  19. Jennifer Says:

    My Nonna used to sing a song to me and I dont know what it means. here it is phonetically

    Sega Sega
    Maston dreg
    fallo fenio
    pollo seg
    ellu seg
    aritta ma
    ellu ma
    chicken donna catterin

    any ideas? I cant find it anywhere on the internet. btw she was from caiazzo

  20. Torquato Says:

    Saw Saw Mister Ciccio came from Roman XIX century Saw Saw Mister Titta

    (Mastro Titta 1779-1869 Giambattista Bugatti)

    He was the hangman of the Pope he also used to saw the people after death.

  21. Marilee Says:

    I would really appreciate your help with figuring out what the song my grandmother sang to us as kids means. We now sing it to our children, and my mother thought it meant something to do with a seesaw, but now I am not so sure about that. Here is how the song we know goes:

    “Sega Sega Masta Chich,
    Na bonel

    Forgive my spelling! I wish I learned italian, however when my great grandmother came over to the US she refused to let her grandchildren speak italian – only english so they fit it. Such a sad but understandable thing to have happened.

    Your help with this is greatly appreciate!

  22. Judy Says:

    My grandparents came from the Naples area and sang Sega Sega. I am Italian, but do not know the correct spelling. It sounds like this to me, and I’m now singing it to MY nieces and nephews:

    Sega Sega
    Mosto Cheech
    a new sawseech
    a new sawseech
    an o’manja
    Sega sega justa ba

    Anyone heard it like that?
    I’m so thrilled to hear others who’ve heard this wonderful little song!

  23. Lisa Says:

    Salvatore wrote:

    Ciao, I remember this song clearly. My grandmother would sing this. When she got a package with string, she would make a triangle using both my fingers and hers, then pull the string through it making a seesaw like movement. she would then sing Sega, Sega. In fact as kids if we wanted to play with a string with our friends we would call it Sega Sega.

    Salvatore Lenzi
    Gemini Travel Agency, Inc.

  24. Jennifer Triptow Says:

    My grandmother;s family came to the USA from Naples when she was a child—they settled in NY and then Chicago. She sang this song to her kids, my mother sang it to us, and my siblings all sing it to their children. The Italian language is gone from our family, but we speak it phonetically – and it sounds most like this version posted way above:

    Sega Sega master ciccio
    ob onell’ e u salsicc’
    u salsicc a gia mangiam
    ob onell’ e gia stibam

    I am so happy I found other people who know this!

  25. Lisa Says:

    I found more Neapolitan rhymes online!

  26. Lisa Says:

    You can find more Neapolitan nursery rhymes in the original language only here.

  27. Grace Says:

    I actually heard my best friends mother which is Italian sing this song and rock the baby she said her great grandmother had sang it to her. And ive been in love with it ever since

  28. Don Says:

    I just had my first grandchild and I remember my grandfather used to sing that to us. I remember it as (my phonetically remembered version):
    ziga zega maneejah
    poka bean a siubahn
    amaness yehpajewl
    jimmy john
    ah jupdedoo

    He used to rock us back and forth on his lap while singing that and pick us up and give us a big hug at the end.
    I remember him asking who wants a zega zega ride the night before he died. I was the last one.

  29. Maestro Dino Says:

    My papà is from CALABRIA but has been singing the version below in Cincinnati Ohio since 1959….


    In Italian..

  30. Diane Says:

    I purposely web searched this song because my grandma Assunta was from Naples and I remembered her moving my hands back and forth singing this. Now as a new mom, I want to sing it to my son. Even though I was only 4 when my grandma passed, I have such happy memories of sitting on her lap singing this, thanks for great website

  31. Lisa Gelman Says:

    I was excited to find this site. I, too searched to find someone who had heard of the song that my great-grandmother taught me as a small child. I never knew what it meant. Her family was also from Naples. TO me, it sounded like:”sega sega masta cheech, abanel and oosauszeech, oosauszeech and joomanjam, abanel and justebam.”

  32. Denis Roux Says:

    It exists in provençal a similar song, but it is not about sausages, potatoes and bread. It is about saw and wood :

    “- Tira la ressa, mestre Jan!
    – Tira-la tu que sies pus grand!
    – A jornada, a pres-fach,
    Tira la ressa quai podrà.
    – Quant as ganhat?
    – Cinc patacs.
    – Quant as perdut?
    – Cinquanta escuts!
    And at the end of the song, the adult pretended to drop the child backwards…

  33. Monique Says:

    This last one rang a bell! There’s another version of this song -we’d play it holding each other’s hands (right with right, left with left) and pushing and pulling in a seesaw movement, it goes:

    Tira la rèssa, mèstre Joan!
    Tira-la tu que siás plus grand!
    L’aiga es bona, lo vin melhor,
    Tira la rèssa, bon companhon!
    Ziu zau, ziu, zau,
    Tira la rèssa, Joan Durand,
    Tira la rèssa, grand fenhant!


    Pull the saw, master John
    Pull it yourself as you’re bigger (lit. taller)
    Water is good, wine is better
    Pull the saw, good companion
    Ziu zau, ziu, zau,
    Pull the saw, John Durand
    Pull the saw, you big lazy!

  34. Leo Says:

    Sera sera maestro ciccio

    ‘Cu salami ‘cu sazzitza

    U salami murritusu

    Echo perito e’ fai pertuso!

    Nonna Nunzia Palermo b. 1900

  35. Joanne Says:

    My grandmother sang it to me, my mother sang it to my children and I’ve sung it to seven of my grandchildren. I’m happy to say I will sing it to my new grandson due in August and my grandson due in November. I love traditions.

  36. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for writing in Joanne! If you’d like to sing it for us, we’d love to add a recording on the site! -Mama Lisa

  37. michelle Says:

    my Grandmother sang it this was. Sorry for spelling phonetically.
    zega zega montree jon
    bogga vino bogga bon
    la manesta leave a zool
    jim & john
    a dew ta dewy

  38. Janet Says:

    My dad sang tis song but it ended with una te..una te..sega cumbadi se whola se vs. A bunto sega su….sega sega do tu do. Anyone know this song? Sorry don’t know how to spell italian

  39. Mary May Says:

    I was taught this song as a little girl and then taught it to my children, but we never knew the meaning of the words. I was taught to sit the child on my lap and hold their hands and rock them back and forth. At the end of the song we would wave their arms like a cheerleader, and say, “Whoopala, Whoopala, Whoopala!”

  40. Jane Says:

    My mom always made it sound like a lullaby…we heard:
    Sega Sega masta cheech (how we heard it)
    Then something about… a panella oh sausich….more blank memory,… but remember e fagiole, Che mangiame, tu ti tu!
    I think the fagiole if pronounced fazool, rhymed with the last words tu ti tu! We’d clap our hands.
    Tu ti tui. Could be you and me.
    Anyone heard the whole version? Think she rocked my children in the chair.
    Was it something about eating several things together, ending with “You and me!”? Sorry for the mishmash, but So happy to find this!! Grandparents from Naples and small mtn towns in Avellino. Romania, Moscatellos, Taddeos,etc.

  41. Jane Says:

    New line
    A manasta e fagiole (sounds like fazool)

    Then Che mangiama
    Tu ti tu!
    Manasta were GREENS fagiole, the beans

  42. Loretta Says:

    My grandparents were from Formia, about an hour north of Naples. Judy’s entry, above, is the closest to what we heard them singing – in dialect. I’m 67 and SO happy to see the lyrics here because I knew the actual words were much different from what we heard. As I became more familiar with the language (the “accepted” Italian used t/o Italy) these words became even more foreign! Just as in our own language, I’m sure every neighborhood and family had their own way of pronunciation. Thanks to all who posted here, brought back many memories.

  43. Jim Says:

    Glad to see these! My grandmother was from Sora and would sing this to us (on her lap, back and forth).

    The first part was the same –

    Sega sega mastu Ciccio
    na panèlla e nu sacìccio

    The last two lines, though, were a counting game –

    “Ci facema, quarttro parte
    Un, due, tre, quatre

    All said in dialect.

  44. Linda Says:

    My great grandmother was from Fagagna. North eastern Italy. She always told a story about 13 cats 13 rats and 13 bunny rabbits. Does anyone know the story????

  45. Lisa Says:

    Catherine W. wrote:

    “A song my grandfather used to sing to his daughters and then later on me. There seems to have been quite a bit lost in translation as the words my mother sing don’t make sense, haha. This is what I’ve pieced together. The first version is what my mother sings, and the second is what I’ve checked into. I don’t know if it’ll help but I thought he was from Naples although many of the recipes he passed down tend to be more Sicilian. The second one seems to be centered around meal time. I believe the true song lies somewhere in between. Help ?!

    Version 1: (phonetically) Zega, Zega Mariana Pogauina, Siaopona, Amentesta, A vezule, Jima Jama dooti doo.

    Version 2: Sega Sega Mariana pogo vino e il panna, e minestra e fagioli, mangia mangia tutti tutti.

    Rough translation: Work, work Mary (mother character) pour the wine and [cut] the bread, and the soup and the beans, eat, eat, everyone all.

    Can anyone help with this one?

  46. Catherine Ward Says:

    The one Don shares at the top is EXACTLY how my mother sang it to me…

  47. Nadia Says:

    I was so happy to find the rest of this rhyme. My dad sang this to me and my three sisters when we were little. He was born in Calabria but grew up in the Torre Annunziata region of Naples. All the rhymes I saw on this site reflect the pronunciation of the dialects of the region, the ends of the words would be eliminated. We came to the USA in 1952. Sega Sega masu cicch, nu panell e nu sazzich. U sazzich gia mangia, e u panell gia stibam. I love this site!

  48. June Greco Says:

    I can’t believe so many with the same story, My grandmother, Pasqualina Sessa, came from Naples and sang this song to all her grandchildren. She would rock us back and forth as we sat in her lap and she would sing Sega Sega. This was passed down to our children and now our grandchildren. No one now really knew the exact words or meaning, (my grandmother told her children we live in America and our language is English) and since now most of my relatives are long gone, it was so nice to find out the words and meaning, and also so many who share the same precious memory.

  49. Kathryn Says:

    So glad I have found this site, still trying to figure out the correct words to the song my grandmother sang, I am writing phonetically the words I am not sure of
    Sega sega madrejon, boca vin, sal a pan, la moneste, Che fagiole, Jim an John doo ti doo

  50. Dominic Says:

    When I was a kid I heard it from my Neapolitan aunt(s) the way Michelle heard it:

    zega zega montree jon
    bogga vino bogga bon
    la manesta leave a zool
    jim & john
    a dew ta dewy

    But I could never quite remembered it exactly. When I would play with my little cousins I would sing my own gibberish version while rocking them back and forth with something else on the end…:

    Zega Zega,
    Matree chaga,
    Boga vino, boga pan,
    Amensta chivazoo,
    There will be no soup for you!

    And at the last line I rocked them twice as fast as the rest of the song haha!

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