Challenge to the last stornello

La società dei magnaccioni

 When it comes to cheerful and playful folk music the quickest mental association that comes to mind is that of the starling. 

Canzoni & Stornelli Archivi | ROMA Artigiana & Creativa - web portal

This type of song is typical of central Italy and in particular of Tuscany, Lazio and Marche. 

Less well-known are the Salento stornelli and those in Grika, a Greek-speaking language that comes from the ancient Magna Grecia, are particularly sought after.

It seems that the term “stornello” derives from the ancient custom of singing a starling, that is, a rebound, making real rhymes, phrases, insults and jokes. 

Basically, in the old taverns, you had fun challenging yourself in an original duel: singing on yourself.

In the history of Italian song, we remember an extraordinary challenge to the last rhyme between two famous show business characters: the great Ettore Petrolini, versus Armando Gill who was the first Italian singer-songwriter.

One day, in a restaurant in Trastevere, the two characters seated to have lunch at two different tables, recognized each other with mutual surprise. 

The two spontaneously started a rhyming contest, using the metric of the stornelli to challenge each other.

At the end of their particular “Stornell-Challange” Petrolini got up from the table and headed towards Armando Gill congratulating himself for his skill. 

Armando Gill is the author of the famous song: “Come Pioveva” and the Neapolitan speck “So what?”.

Thinking about this situation, one can only remember the most famous stornello of our folk heritage, the most classic Roman stornello, a stornello of priceless affective value, a stornello of the late nineteenth century: “La società de li magnaccioni”.  (The society of the good eaters)

This Roman folk song was re-proposed by Armandino Bosco a 15-year-old street artist who later became one of the most loved Roman folk singer. It was made known to the big audience by Gabriella Ferri and Luisa de Santis. Ferri made her television debut with this song in the program “la Fiera dei Sogni” conducted by Mike Bongiorno. 

This song was also sung by Lando Fiorini and the great Claudio Villa.


Un abbraccio/ a big Hug

Marcus Dardi


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