Maremma Amara (Bitter Maremma): Tuscan folk song

Just a couple of notes and a few lines tell the story of centuries of a love-and-hate relationship with a land that brought joys but mostly sorrows. It’s Maremma Amara, literally “Bitter Maremma”, an anonymous song of the ancient Tuscan folk music tradition.

Old photo of a buttero cowboy in the swamps
Old photo of a buttero cowboy in the swamps – image from

The origins of the song are unknown, but it is believed that it was written at the beginning of the XIX century during the land reclamation works and the transhumance, or the seasonal movement of people with their livestock. In fact, many Tuscan farmers were given incentives to go and work in Maremma, but the swampy region claimed many victims due to malaria and typhus.

The song was rediscovered in the 1960’s by Tuscan folk singer Caterina Bueno. Here you can listen to her version of the song, while below is the English translation of the lyrics.

Lyrics of “Maremma Amara”:

Everybody tells me Maremma, Maremma;
but to me it seems a bitter Maremma.
The bird that go there loses its feather;
I’ve lost a dear person there.

Cursed be Maremma Maremma;
Cursed be Maremma and those who love it.

Every time you go there, my heart trembles
because I worry that you will never return.

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