S'i' fosse foco, ardere' il mondo;                  If I were fire, I'd set the world ablaze;

s'i' fosse vento, lo tempestarei;                     if I were wind, I'd rage against it;

s'i' fosse acqua, i' l’annegherei;                     if I were water, I'd drown it;

s'i' fosse Dio, mandereil'en profondo;          if I were God, I'd send it to the depths;


s'i' fosse papa, serei allor giocondo,              If I were Pope, then I'd enjoy myself

ché tutti cristïani embrigarei;                       cheating all the Christians; 

s'i' fosse 'mperator, sa' che farei?                   if I were emperor, you know what I'd do?

a tutti mozzarei lo capo a tondo.                  I’d chop off everybody’s head.


S'i' fosse morte, andarei da mio padre;         If I were death, I'd go and see my father; 

s'i' fosse vita, fuggirei da lui:                         if I were life, I'd run away from him:

similemente faria da mi' madre,                   I'd do the same with my mother.


S'i' fosse Cecco, com'i' sono e fui,                If I were Cecco, as I am and was,

torrei le donne giovani e leggiadre:               I'd take the young and pretty girls,

le vecchie e laide lasserei altrui.                     and leave the old and lame to others. 

Cecco Angelieri was born in Siena to a banker father and an aristocratic mother,

He had an adventurous life, taking part in several of the local wars and sieges endemic in Tuscany during his lifetime. In fact, he may have met Dante in a battle in which Siena joined Florence as allies against Arezzo in 1289 (certainly they were both there, and Cecco suggests they had met in one of his sonnets).

Always playful and irreverent, he claimed in his own words that his ideal life would be one of women, taverns and dice. This poem, which every Italian knows, is simply great fun - as he must have been. It was set to music by the great Genovese singer-songwriter Fabrizio de André, worth seeking out on his album Volume 3, released in 1968.

This Italian text is taken from Mario Marti, Poeti giocosi del tempo di Dante, Milano: Rizzoli, 1956