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Sara’s Mamma remembers her favorite children’s games


By Melissa Cannavo-Marino

Ciao ragazzi, this month I want to tell you about some of the games children here in Italy like to play. Il tempo (the weather) has been molto bello (very beautiful) and children are out playing. A few days ago while out for una passeggiata (a stroll) Mamma and I saw a small group of bambini (young children) ages around 2 to 8 playing an old traditional playground game: Il Girotondo (the equivalent of ring-around-the-rosie). Mamma felt a touch of nostalgia as many happy memories came back to her from when she played these games when she was a little girl in Sicilia (in Sicily), and at the same time she said that lei era contenta (she was pleased) to see that in this era of electronic virtual entertainment, kids are still playing these traditional playground games which have been passed down for generations. So I decided to tell you about some of mamma’s old childhood favorites. The same games are played by bambini in Friuli Venezia Giulia in the very north, down to Sicilia in the south, with a few minor changes in the rules and spelling adaptations.

Here are two of the giochi preferiti (favorite games). The first is Il Girotondo, in which the children make a ring by holding hands and walking in a circle while chanting this short rhyme, at the end of which they throw themselves down onto the ground with great hilarity.

Giro girotondo / Casca il mondo / Casca la Terra/ Tutti giu’ per terra!

Turn round and round / the world falls down / the Earth falls down / everybody down on the ground!

La bella lavanderina is another popular “ring-around-the-rosie”-type game, but the attraction of this one is that it
gives the children the possibility to express their acting abilities! In this game, while the children fanno il girotondo
(make a ring) and sing the nursery rhyme, one child is chosen to be la lavanderina (the little washerwoman), and stands in the center of the ring acting out the “script” of the rhyme. When the rhyme is finished the bambino or bambina  chooses another child from the ring and they swap places.

La bella lavanderina/ che lava i fazzoletti / per i poveretti / della citta’ / fai un salto / fanne un altro / fai la giravolta / falla un’altra volta / guarda in su / guarda in giu’ / dai un bacio a chi vuoi tu!

The pretty little washerwoman / who washes the handkerchiefs / for the poor people / of the town / make a jump / make another one / twirl around / do it again / look up / look down / give a kiss to whom you want!

Maybe now you can teach some of your piccolo amici (little friends) these games and enjoy them yourself. Ciao alla prossima! Until the next time! Sara. 

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