'I offer you this flower for my love' - This ode to love and separation reached the groom who, consumed with love, was sitting gloomily in a small refuge on the Puglia plain. A few days prior to leaving for Puglia, the young shepherd would sing to his girlfriend encouraging her to sing for him the serenade of departure: the Spartenza.
It was a sad song which, fortunately, did not wallow in pity but proposed in its verses a great faith in reciprocal love. 'De bonasera tante ne merdie / pe' quande so' le pècura che guarde' ('you deserve a good night / as much as the sheep that I look over'.) ....
And he continued with ever deeper love declarations until he ended with a promise: 'Fatte curagge, amore, fatte curagge' /ca' la vernata passa e arreva magge'. ('Be courageous, love, /the winter will pass and May will arrive', the month in which we can finally embrace each other and crown our dreams of love).
To such a serenade, the bride-to-be would reply with gifts indispensable for surviving the rigours of the 'transumanza' and she would load the mule of her boyfriend with objects such as packs of 'ferratelle' (iron tools), sacks of flavoured 'turcinielli' (bread pasta flavoured with salt and pepper and fried in the pan in strips) and mountains of biscuits and 'ciambelle'.
To the unhappiness of the serenade of departing the reply would come in the following summer with the glorious and predictable 'Penesella', the song which would be sung by the friends of the couple the night of the wedding and who would take it in turns to sing as much as possible in tune beneath the window of the couple.
In the second half of the last century with the disappearance of sheep rearing, the songs we have mentioned disappeared completely, as if sucked away by a vortex.
One which has survived is the 'Serenata delle chezette' ('the song of the stocking') a sort of collection song which invigorates the impudence of the requests for gifts from the 'Bonastrema' of New Year, so loved by children.
The evening of the Befana, the 5th January, groups of young people laden with musical instruments sing below the windows of the town until they have received a promise of food. The following day the singers return to collect the fruits of their work from the houses they serenaded and together, over a couple of days, meet in a trattoria to eat.