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Carmela of Sorrento

Sorrento and Gulf of Naples

Between the Circumvesuviana train station and the Sita bus station in Sorrento there stands the bust of Giambattista de Curtis. Why did he deserve a statue? So I started to look up his name and discovered Carmela of Sorrento. What a nice Hebrew name she has! That’s my excuse to write about Sorrento.

Giambattista de Curtis
Giambattista de Curtis – Photo: Hoshvilim

Giambattista de Curtis

Doctor Google says that Giambattista de Curtis (20 July 1860 – 15 January 1926) was an Italian painter and poet remembered today for his song lyrics. De Curtis felt a great love for Sorrento, where from 1891 until 1910 he passed six months of every year at the Grand Hotel of Guglielmo Tramontano, who was mayor at the time. Perhaps the poet’s popularity brought guests to the hotel. It was during his stay in Sorrento that he found his love, Carmela. Imagine such a beautiful woman with a wonderful Hebrew name here on the Gulf of Naples!

G._de_Curtis – Public Domain

Carmela of Sorrento

So De Curtis met Carmela Maione in Sorrento in 1892. She would inspire his most famous song, Duorme Carmè or Carmela. Tour guides say that Carmela came to the hotel with a basket of fruits.
“What is your name?” asked De Curtis.
“Carmela Maione”, the girl answered, “I’m a daughter of a warden and live in Fuorimura”.
“And what do you do usually?” asked again Giambattista De Curtis.
“I sleep” answered Carmela.
Inspired Giambattista De Curtis wrote a song about this girl and named it “Carmela“.

Nevertheless, he did not wed until 1910, when, at the age of fifty and after nearly twenty years’ engagement, he married Carolina Scognamiglio.

Beyond the wall there’s a girl,
Among the thorns her house is built,
At the leaves the night falls asleep there
And there’s no rose more beautiful!

Sleep, Carmela,
The most beautiful thing in life is to sleep!
Dream about me,
I want with you to Paradise!

Every evening that comes to a village
She sings a beautiful song.
It tells that her heart is suffering
And only I understand this pain.

Sing, Carmela,
Your voice is so beautiful to listen!
Sing for me,
And you make me fly up to the sky!

A ship arrived from far away
And took away my fairy to Sorrento,
To the rock where Tramontano lives,
In Paradise there’s not this place.

Arrive, Carmela,
Do you remember? For me you’re the fairy!
Come back with me,
At this rock we’ll remain until we die!       (Translated by Natalia Chernega)

Torna a Surriento – Come Back to Sorrento

The local bust sculpture claims that the most popular song that Giambattista de Curtis wrote was Torna a Surriento – Come Back to Sorrento. You probably recognise the melody. Now I also want to return to Sorrento.

The mayor, Tramontano, asked de Curtis and his brother, Ernesto, to write a song honoring the prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Zanardelli, staying at the hotel in 1902. More recent research indicates that “Torna a Surriento” may merely have been reworked for the occasion; family papers indicate that the brothers deposited a copy with the Italian Society of Authors and Editors in 1894, eight years before they claimed to have written it.

Torna a Surriento Sheet Music

Look at the sea, how beautiful it is,
it inspires so many emotions,
like you do with the people you look at,
who you make to dream while they are still awake.
Look at this garden
and the scent of these oranges,
such a fine perfume,
it goes straight into your heart,
And you say: “I am leaving, goodbye.”
You go away from this heart of mine,
away from this land of love,
And you have the heart not to come back.
But do not go away,
do not give me this pain.
Come back to Surriento,
let me live!
Look at the sea of Surriento,
what a treasure it is!
Even who has travelled all over the world,
he has never seen a sea like this one.
Look at these mermaids
that stare, amazed, at you,
that love you so much.
They would like to kiss you,
And you say: “I am leaving, goodbye.”
You go away from my heart,
away from the land of love,
And you have the heart not to come back.
But please do not go away,
do not give me this pain.
Come back to Surriento,
let me live!

About Israel and You

Cameling in the holy land since forever
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