Before this wedding, in the fifties of the nineteenth century, the La Spezia carnival was an enthralling village festival (it must be remembered that before the construction of the Arsenale, which took place in 1862, the inhabited area of La Spezia had little consistency) with almost total participation of its inhabitants.
The main figure was King Carlevà. In a parade in which the various neighborhoods participated with masks and floats, the mask of King Carlevà – on Shrove Tuesday – was conducted in parade with the sound accompaniment of satirical songs strictly in dialect and burnt on the marina.
Traditionally, King Carlevà Morente – before being burned – left a testament to citizenship: initially it was only a list of objects, but later it was transformed into “the list of graces”, that is, a series of tips for the population, in turn changed into a satire of costume: it is the origin of the song.
When Batiston is already on the scene – at that pointthe son-in-law of King Carlevà – he will be the one to read the king’s will to the people.
In a calendar of the time, there are traces of some songs from the late sixties of the nineteenth century with a certain Batiston as protagonist.
The first, signed by Serafino Pucci, reads like this
Cai me fanti, a son de Spèza
Er me nome i è Batiston
Batiston de Falabèla
Ch’i è nassù ‘nte a Sitadèla…
(Dear my boys, I’m from Spezia / my name is Batiston / Batiston di Falabela / who was born in the citadel )
Even if there are those who claim that Falabela is a neighboring locality (however disappeared and not remembered today), it is more likely that it is a dialectal expression that means “make it beautiful”, that is “combine trouble”, while certainly the Citadel is the ancient district of La Spezia.
The verses are written in strict and genuine dialect; the small composition tells that Batiston returns home after spending many years in California and is saddened to see the suffering of some workers who, dirty and hungry, after work, lie down on the ground, under the arcades of via Chiodo. From this description starts a pity towards those who sweat and who, as a reward, lead a life of rags, and a decisive attack on the authorities is not spared:
Con che stèo, o signoi,
ch’angrassé ‘nte no fae gnente,
a mié ‘sti doloi
che bersègia a povea gente?…
(Who are you with, gentlemen, / who gain weight in doing nothing / do you see these pains / which afflict the poor people?)
In 1866 it was no small matter to express oneself with such harshness in public events. These are heavy observations on a city that – at the time – was changing its skin under the pressure of the construction of the Arsenale.
Batiston represents the spirit of the last authentic La Spezia local people, who no longer recognized their city and who quickly see their world die.