Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Festa di San Martino Nocturne & 3 Songs

At my son's small Waldorf pre-school (or asilo steineriana, as it is called here) the Festa di San Martino is a nocturnal one and lanterns made by the students in class replace the clanging pots and pans of the usual daytime celebrations in Venice--an example of which you can see here:

The use of lanterns is typical of German celebrations of the holiday, but the plan this year at my son's school was to incorporate a distinctly Venetian element into the procession with the use of boats. I was going to be one of a few parents who would row the students--who'd be singing the songs you see below and shining their lanterns--in three traditional wood boats (specifically mascarete) along the canals of Canareggio.

The weather, however, did not cooperate. There were high winds and rain throughout most of the day and, though both had diminished somewhat by the later afternoon, the weather as evening approached was still too wet and windy to make the prospect of a boat ride very appealing (or safe).

So I didn't end up with any photos of the boats as I'd hoped, and the large enclosed garden in which the kids walked and sang was so dark as to make picture-taking almost impossible--as you can see above.

But, well, I can offer you the songs below, so that any of you who may be in Venice for next year's Festa di San Martino can be fully prepared to join the singing--as, incidentally, my son almost never does.

Alas, aside from Lucio Battisti's "La canzone del sole", Sandro's favorite song to belt out is one he learned from a friend whose family has lived in the lagoon for nearly 1,000 years--about a grandfather with uncontrollable flatulence.

Nella nebbia fitta fitta, ogni bimbo ha paura
Anche il cielo si oscura e la notte presto vien
Se mi trovo per la strada, io accendo il lumicino
Che il prode San Martino ha donato ogni bambino
San Martino, cavaliere, ti ringrazio per la luce
Che per strada mi conduce e mi illumina il cammin

Nell’ampio cielo le stelle brillan come fiammelle;
io, piccolo bambino quaggiù,
rivolgo gli occhi al ciel lassù.

Io porto la mia lanterna, la porto sempre con me
In cielo brillano le stelle e qui Lei arde per me
Col lumicin io vo’ in cammin, rabimmel rabammel rabum
Ad uno ad uno ce ne andiamo piano piano
Su bimbi a casa torniam, su bimbi a casa torniam.

Lanterna che brilli nella notte scura
Dimmi dove andare, dimmi dove andar
Senza luce nel buio, non posso restar
Lanterna, lanterna.


  1. "Sandro's favorite song.....about a grandfather with uncontrollable flatulence."

    Ha! The Music of the Spheres.

    San Martino sounds like such a sweet festival. A shame the boat processional had to be canceled, but there's always next year.

    In the meantime, I like the picture of the kid-crafted lanterns floating in the darkness.

    1. Ha, I hadn't thought of it that way, Brooks, but indeed it is the music of the spheres--in some senses.

      I won't share this remark with Sandro, as he needs no more encouragement.

      Tonight he actually sang a bit of the first San Martino song above but changed the lyrics to be about--well, his favorite topic.

  2. I remember San Martino as a "sweeties" festival since the san martino cake, representing a knight on a horse with a sword (and with plenty of small chocolates and other candies) has always been a favorite of mine during my childhood.

    1. You remind me, Francesco, that I didn't even have a single bite of one of those horse and riders this year! But what a nice memory.

      Do they celebrate the feast day in Brussels at all?

  3. Unfortunately they don't and since half November I'm rarely in Venice it has been ages since last time that I've got my last San martino... I'll ask my parents to buy one for my two small kids next year (but I'll eat a piece too..)

    Hope to be in Venice maybe at Carnival time.

  4. One of the good things about having children is the opportunity they give one as a parent to eat sweets typically designated for kids...

    Hope to see you at Carnevale time!