Ravanei, remulass, from the Venice market to the Navigli of Milan

La Bella la và al fosso

The beauty goes to the ditch

The first time I heard this song, it was in the early 70s of the twentieth century and I heard it from Cochi & Renato on their TV show “The Poet and the Farmer”.

Lavandaie a San Cristoforo, Milano (con immagini) | Fotografia ...

We often get confused between “la và”, that is, “she goes”, with “lava” from the verb to wash. Both meanings are valid, but if we beter analyze the ancient text, our beauty is going to the ditch, so she goes!

La Bella Lava al Fosso is a very old popular song and it is very difficult to attribute a precise dating. 

The refrain “ravanei, remulass, barbabietole e spinass” it seems to come from the 1600s and recalls the Venetian sellers who, with these words, attracted customers to their market.

This custom began precisely in the markets of the Venice of the Doges, starting from the tenth century.

The merchants called actors to jump on the counter and call the customers back to their counter: the origin of the word saltimbanco was also revealed.

The acrobats to compete with each other and to increase the effectiveness of their work began to wear masks, costumes and make small recited scenes.

This commercial stratagem created, in the fifteenth century, the “Commedia dell’Arte” which was exported from Venice, throughout Europe.

This is how the first masks appeared: Arlecchino and Colombina, Pantalone, Pulcinella and many others.

Gradually each city created its own or its masks that represented it. 

In Milan we have Meneghino and Cecca, in Turin Gianduia and Giacometta, in Bologna Dr. Balanzone, in Florence Stentarello, in Rome Rugantino etc. ….. 

Sometimes a popular song, which may seem simple and banal at first glance, contains a real great story. 

The sum of the individual stories then forms the history of an entire people.

Video – La bella lava al fosso:

Un abbraccio/ a big Hug

Marcus Dardi

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