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La Cena della Zita

This traditional song, present in different varieties all over Italy with different menus according to the place, lists what the bride ("zita") ate each evening, from the first to the tenth day.
It is a song based on a numerical progression, with each stanza repeating the previous ones, so as to have a final, very long tenth stanza. The rhythm is the typical "tarantella" of Apulia. The bride, who eats very little on the first night, becomes more and more voracious, with an allusion not only to food.

The song already existed, according to musician Francesco Balilla Pratella, in the late 15th century. The "Zita" is a variation of "cita" (= young girl, therefore also a virgin), and in standard Italian gave rise to the term "zitella" (spinster), though in the Apulian dialect "zita" and its masculine form "zito" mean "engaged to be married". The stanza of the eighth night is reported completely below.

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Che se magnaie la zita la primma sera
primma e bà, primma e bà,
Che se magnaie la zita la primma sera
primma e bà, primma e bà,
What did the bride eat on the first night
first and go, first and go,
What did the bride eat on the first night
first and go, first and go,
 
chella zita culumbrina steva diuna d'â matina
se magnaie lu picciungino
è bello lu picciungi'
è bello lu picciungi'.
that pretty maiden was fasting since the morning
she ate the small pigeon
fine is the pigeon
fine is the pigeon.
 
Ma che se magnaie la zita a li ddoie sere
li ddoie sere e bà, li ddoie sere e bà
ddoie aucielli turturine
annascusi sotto ô cuscino
ammieze lu picciungi',
ammieze lu picciungi'.
But what did the bride eat on the two nights
two and go, two and go,
two turtle birds
hidden under the pillow
in the middle the small pigeon
in the middle the pigeon.
 
Ma che se magnaie la zita a li treie sere
treie e bà, treie e bà,
tre cetrole l'una e ll'ata
ddoie aucielle turturine
annascusi sotto ô cuscino
ammieze lu picciungi'
ammieze lu picciungi'.
But what did the bride eat on the three nights
three and go, three and go,
three cucumbers one and the other
two turtle birds
hidden under the pillow
in the middle the pigeon.
 
Ma che se magnaie la zita a li quatte sere
li quatte sere e bà, li quatte sere e bà,
quatte ranate ben tagliate
tre cetrole l'una e ll'ata [...]
But what did the bride eat on the four nights
four nights and go, four nights and go,
four "ranate" well cut
three cucumbers one and the other [...]
 
Che se magnaie la zita a li cinche sere
cinche e bà, cinche e bà,
cinche scope na matinata
che facevano 'o paro e 'o sparo
quatte ranate ben tagliate [...]
But what did the bride eat on the five nights
five and go, five and go,
five "scope" in the morning
playing head and toss
four "ranate" well cut [...]
 
Che se magnaie la zita a li sei sere
li sei sere e bà, li sei sere e bà,
sei anguille ben piscate
cinche scope na matinata [...]
But what did the bride eat on the six nights
six nights and go, six nights and go,
six eels just fished
five "scope" in the morning
playing head and toss [...]
 
Che se magnaie la zita a li sette sere
sette e bà, sette e bà,
sette valle cantature
sei anguille ben piscate [...]
But what did the bride eat on the seven nights
seven and go, seven and go,
seven singing "valle" (?)
six eels just fished [...]
 
Che se magnaie la zita a li otto sere
li otto sere e bà, li otto sere e bà,
otto cuoppe de cunfiette
ca purtava la zita 'mpietto
capriole pe dinto ô lietto
ce 'o ffacevano pe dispietto
sette valle cantature
sei anguille ben piscate
cinche scope na matinata
che facevano 'o paro e 'o sparo
quatte ranate ben tagliate
tre cetrole l'una e ll'ata
ddoie aucielle turturine
annascusi sotto ô cuscino
ammieze lu picciungi'
ammieze lu picciungi'
But what did the bride eat on the eight nights
eight nights and go, eight nights and go and go,
eight cups of confetti
that the girl carried in her breast
jumping in the bed
to tease her
seven singing "valle"
six eels just fished
five "scope" in the morning
playing head and toss
four "ranate" well cut
three cucumbers one and the other
two turtle birds
hidden under the pillow
in the middle the small pigeon.
in the middle the pigeon.
 
Ma che se magnaie la zita a li durece sere
durece e bà, durece e bà,
Io te voglio raccuntare
femmene annure e uommene ncristo
But what did the bride eat on the twelve nights
twelve and go, twelve and go,
I want to tell you
naked women and priests
 
chillu povero priore
sagliette ncoppa â bintunore
na fellata e na tagliata
capecuollo e supressata
na rannissema paliata
areta â porta steva astipata
that poor prior
came up at 21 hours
a "fellata" and a "tagliata"
"capecuollo" and "supressata"
a "rannissema paliata"
behind the door was stored
 
unnece muonaci cappuccini
se ne ievano all'aria fina
ievano dinto a lu giardino
cunfessanno a Ccatarina
ievano a cogliere petrosino
twelve capucine monks
were going in the cool air
were coing into the garden
to confess Catherine
they went to pick parlsey
 
ddiece casce 'e maccarune
nove cotte e una crura
nove piecure muntature
se ne ievano muro muro
ievano rumpenno cufenaturi
ten cases of "macaroni"
nine cooked and one raw
nine sheep ready for mount
were going beside the wall
were breaking tubs
 
otto cuoppi de cunfietti
capriole pe dinto ô lietto
ca purtava la zita mpietto
ce 'o ffacevano pe dispietto
eight cups of confetti
that the girl carried in her breast
making somersaults in bed
to tease her
 
sette valle cantature
sei anguille ben piscate
cinche scope na matinata
che facevano 'o paro e 'o sparo
quattre ranate ben tagliate
tre cetrole l'una e ll'ata
ddoie aucielli turturine
annascusi sotto ô cuscino
ammieze lu picciungi',
ammieze lu picciungi'.
seven singing "valle"
six eels just fished
five "scope" in the morning
playing head and toss
four "ranate" well cut
three cucumbers one and the other
two turtle birds
hidden under the pillow
in the middle the pigeon
in the middle the pigeon.