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The songs of May

May Day, or International Workers’ Day, is a tradition that is widely celebrated in the hills of the Colline Metallifere. This festival incorporates the traditional festivities that once celebrated the arrival of spring in the countryside, festivities that have maintained their charm up until the present day.

The night of 30th April is spent feasting and singing from one homestead to the other as the participants wait for the dawn. The leading figures of this ritual, also known as Le Maggiolate, are the Maggerini and their folk songs.

The Maggerini are divided up into teams featuring a poet, an alberaio, a corbellaio, an accordion player and at least four Maggerini.

The poet is a person well-versed in the art of improvisation and in ottava rima verse and is therefore the undisputed head of the expedition, while the alberaio carries a sprig of bay, decorated in a festive way to symbolise abundance, bringing good luck for the coming harvest.

The Maggerini travel from homestead to homestead, joyfully announcing the arrival of spring.

In exchange, they ask for a little assistance to sustain them in their efforts, such as a little fine wine, some cheese, eggs or – if the cupboard is really bare – a small donation. The Corbellaio is the person whose job it is to fill the corbello, i.e. the wicker basket he carries with him, where these kind donations are collected.

However, after such a special night, these participants certainly can’t stop there and, after having brought their songs to the surrounding countryside the day before, on May Day the Maggerini stop to celebrate in the town squares and streets.