Folk Traditions: Transporting the Harvest

La Carriata di lu Frummentu (Transporting the Harvest)


When the farms are in flower the owner makes good animals available, so as to overcome the difficult country paths; the movement then proceeds over trails that are more or less passable, since there are no paved roads. Transportation occurs on the backs of the mules; transport that impressively succeeds across the farms which can supply retini of mules.

The retina is comprised of 9 mules; the strongest lead the cavalcade by hi vurdunnaru, that is by the leader; the most beautiful and round is the last in the retina line of mules. The animals each carry half a measure of wheat in their saddlebags (visdzza and visazzdtta), ordinarily woven from wool in various colors, beautifully stitched on the edges (pizzotti).

The head of the animal is adorned with rich headdress with a tassel hanging on its face, all well embroidered in vari-colored wool; bells hang on the lower part. Wearing this characteristic and no less rich attire, the farm’s wheat, after traversing the country trails, arrives in town. Day and night, under the light of the moon in the quiet fields the scraping of the animals on the paving stones is heard, to the ringing of many little bells, which would be in accord with the song di lu vurdunaru producing an enchanting sound, especially in the nighttime tranquillity.

The accent of that song is traditional, having come down to us from the Arabs, who were the rulers of Sicily for around 250 years, and who left traces of their accomplished and fine farmers and their happiness through a touching lullaby that reveals in its idiomatic expressions all the passion of their soul and of their rapture felt for the woman of their dreams.

Our farm workers enchant us with their songs that are rich in images and full of amorous heat. I’ll give an example:

Ch’e beddra la me -tumuli? Ch’e pulita!
E comu ‘na rusiddra ‘mmuttunata, farici l’aju ‘na vesta di sita d’oru e d’argentu arraccamata.
L’onuri ‘un si cancia pi munita,
l’omu ch’e omu unni cancia strata, mentri a stu munnu sugnu e aju vita ‘nta lu me pettu ti tegnui ‘ngastata.

Fermati beni me, ferma caminu
chi sentu junti ‘nta stu beddru chianu, je su’ largentu e tu l’oru finu, lu to visu straluci di luntanu.
Oh, chi calassi un ancilu divinu, quantu nni ritrattassi ammamu ammanu, e l’am’n fari un ritratteddru finu jennu a la chiesa e dannuni la manu.

Ti vitti ‘n sonnu ‘ntra un carru d’amuri Supra munti di nevuli vulari;
Jvi jettannu vampi di splenduri,
E spicchiava l’unna di lu mari,
Passavi e spampinavanu li ciuri ,vaddri e muntagni vitti ‘nvirdicari… Quant’eri beddra, riggina
d’amuri! ‘Mmiatu chiddru chi ti sapi amari.

Nun durmiti no no, nun tantu sonnu, che lu tantu durmiri vi fa dannu;
Cca cc’e lu vostru amanti a lu cuntornu Cu strumenti d’amuri e va sunannu;
Sona di prima sira sinu a jornu,
Sona pi quantu jorna cc’e ‘nta un annu;
Pi quantu beddri cci su ‘nta stu cuntornu, Tu sula mi fa jri pazziannu.

How beautiful is my lover! How unblemished!
She’s like a rose in bloom,
I need to get her a golden silk dress
Adorned with silver.

One cannot replace honor with money,
The man who is a real man doesn’t change course,
While I am in this world and have life
I hold you imprinted upon my heart.

My beloved, trustworthy path
In this lovely valley, I feel I have arrived,
I am silver and you are of fine gold,
Your face shines brightly from afar,
Oh that a divine angel would come down
So we can walk hand in hand,
And we will surely make a fine portrait
Going to Church and holding hands.

I saw you in my dreams in a chariot of love
Above mounds of flying clouds;
I went along throwing bolts of splendor,
Which sparkled (as) from the sea,
As you were passing, flowers bloomed
Valleys and mountains I saw becoming verdant …
How beautiful you were, queen of love!
Lucky is he who knows how to love you.

Don’t sleep, no, no, don’t be so sleepy,
Because sleeping too much is not good;
Here is your lover and his accompaniment
With instruments of love he goes about playing;
He plays from early evening until daylight,
He plays for as many days as there are in a year;
Because no matter how many pretty girls there are around,
Only you make me crazy.

(Translation: Annette Chiappetta Rovello).


And he beats and runs and whips making the mill run di lu capu (by the whip) and yells at the top of his lungs:

Sant’Antuninu, Sant’Antuninu!
Beddra la spica, lu cocciu chinu!
Pi ogni spica chi dinchi un munneddru dammi grazia, o eternu Diu.

St. Anthony, St. Anthony!
Beautiful is the head of wheat, the full kernel!
For every head of wheat which fills a measured bushel,
Be merciful, oh eternal God.

The man, cautious of the flashing of the mule’s shoes on their back hooves, which can easily be raised in pairs to kick, exclaims:

San Calojaru majiiri, nni scanzi di cavuci di muli.

St. Carl Maggiore,
Spare us from the kicks of the mules.

(Translation: Annette Chiappetta Rovello).

[This webpage is excerpted from the book: “The History of Poggioreale, Sicily – From 1640 to 1956.” Originally written in Italian by: Canonico Dottore Francesco Aloisio in 1956. Adapted and translated by: Dr. Jeremiah P. Spence, Ph.D. of Austin, Texas. 5th Edition. International Order of Genealogists Publishing. Ireland. 2019. ISBN: 9781072403371. The book can be purchased online at: ]