All posts for the day January 27th, 2011


Published January 27, 2011 by Tony

Old Neapolitan Works

Who got the change to read the previous post of mine called “Neapolitanism” noticed the talk about the Neapolitans’ peculiar characteristic to get by with work, also if in the last decades things changed. I also said that “necessity is the mother of invention” and under this point of view most Neapolitans are very imaginative reaching sometimes eccentricity even. It is an innate characteristic from the dawn of time when poverty and destitution was rampant and for centuries population had to make ends meet every day and since childhood any person roamed for a slice of bread. It’s well-known that southern Italy went through long and different dominations as: Byzantine, Aragonese, Norman, Borbones, Svevi, French, Spanish, causing decay and unrest but misery and underdevelopment too. As time went by people tried to devise any way to earn money doing or inventing the most disparate trades. Between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century, squares and alleyways were populated by people working in the streets but most of those works vanished in the time and it’s quite impossible to get a complete list but, thanks to writings and Internet today we can mention someone.

Take into account these works are in dialect and I put the simple literal translation in brackets.

Acquaiuoli (water and ice peddlers)

Acquafrescaio (water and ice seller with stall)

Ammazzapiecure (expert guy  butchering sheep or goats)

Ammuola forbece or Ammuolafuorbice (grinder or sharpener)


Arriffatore (A sort of raffle where though a bingo somebody could win foods)

Callista (callus and corns remover)

Cammesara (a woman repairing or darning shirts)

Capera (a woman doing the hairdresser)

Capillaro or Capillò (hair purchaser)

Carcararo ( quicklime maker)

Carnacuttaro (guts or offal peddler)

Casadduoglio (coming from the term dairy, who sold cheese or delicatessen)

Castagnaro (roast chestnuts peddler)

Cenneraro (coal dust seller. Coal dust was useful for laundry)

Cevezaioulo or Ceuzaro (mulberries or blackberries seller)

Chiavettiere (a smith making keys)

Conciambrelli (umbrella repairer)

Ferracavallo (clogs maker)

Franfelliccaro (“franfellicco” seller – a colored caramel stick-)

Funaro (hemp ropes maker)

Gravunaro (slack or charcoal peddler)

Gallettaro (rusks or water biscuits peddler)

Latrenaro (who cleaned the latrines and sold the excrement as fertilizer)

Lattaro (milk peddler)

Lavannaje or lavannara (washerwomen)

Lutammaro (dung picker)

Maccarunaro (macaroni seller)

Masterascio (wood worker or master carpenter)

Mastuggiorgio (madhouse nurse, it usually referred to a big man as “giant killers”)

Matarazzaio (wooden mattress maker)

Mellunaro (melons peddler)

Muzzunaro (cigarette’s stug gatherer)

Ncenziatore (a man that burnt incense in a can and protected shops from possible jinx while screaming this  chant: <Sciò sciò ciucciuvè, uocchio, maluocchio… funecelle all’uocchio, aglio e fravaglio, fattura ca nun quaglia, corne e bicorne, cape ‘e alice e cape d’aglio… diavulillo diavulillo, jesce a dint’o pertusillo… sciò sciò ciucciuvè… jatevenne, sciò sciò…>)

Nutriccia (a neo-woman who sold her breast milk feeding other’s chilren)

Paddulano and Sarmataro (greengrocer seller)

Panzaruttaro (panzerotto or panzarrotti seller)

Pazzariello (an old character who wore a particular jacket  as uniform and with a stick, together some organist, went around in the streets to publicize the opening of a new shop, starting his advertisement with this words: <Battaglio’, scapucchio’ è asciuto pazzo ‘o patro’!>)

Pezzaro (rags gatherer)

Piattare (like the following “Sapunaro” but giving in exchange crockery)

Pupari (puppets maker)

Purpaiuolo (the “purpo” is the octopus and he was who sold pices of boiled octopuses together its salt and burning water)

Pusteggiature and sunature (some singer and musician that played in the eating-houses to cheer up customers or called to serenate some girl)

Rammaro (copper cookware maker and seller)

Ricuttaro (fresh ricotta-cheese peddler – usually he prepared a sort of bread-roll with ricotta that was in particular little cane basket cone-shaped called “fuscella” – see the following image-)

Sanzaro (a sort of intermediary or middleman for rental but also a sort of pander for marriage)

Sapunaro [a pitchman buying old and wore objects giving in exchange pieces of laundry soap (potash) – The old said: “Cca ‘e ppezze e cca ‘o sapone” (“first the rags and then the soap”) just comes with this trade meaning that “I don’t pay you if first don’t get the goods!]

Scapillate (some women who on payment stayed at the bedside of a dead person praying and crying even tearing their hair. During the funeral were hired a group of toddlers – usually those put in the orphanage)

Scrivano (a person with literacy who wrote and read mails and letters to illiterate people)

Segatore (logger)

Siggiaro and mpagliasegge (the first was a chairs maker, the second replaced the straw in the old chairs)

Solachianiello (shoes repairer or cobbler)

Spicajola (boiled ears of wheat seller)

Stagnaro (a man who repaired pierced copper pots by tin welding)

Strascinafacenne (who found new customer for lawyers but it also means: living by one’s wits)

Tavernaro (the innkeeper)

Tosacavallo (a blacksmith that sheared horses too)

Trecciaiole (a sort of street peddling hairdressers making braids and toupee)

Vammara (a sort of midwife)

Vuttaro or conciatenielle (vats or barrels repairer)

Zarellaro (m) and zarellara (f) [retailer of a sort of country store, emporium or haberdashery]

Zuccularo (clogs maker)

Then other sellers that had no specific name as:

snails seller, frogs seller, who sold toasted peanuts and others seeds or who sold prickly pears kept in a container and going around with a hand-cart. With some coin people bought the right to pick and took the fruits by a small pointed knife that had to drop vertically over the container, for a fixed amount of throws. Any stuck fruit had then to be raised and the player could eat it only if it didn’t slip out of the knife.