What are the perks of knowing a native speaker, when it comes to learning a language?
Well, there are quite a few, actually. You can obviously practice your speaking skills, get feedback on your mistakes, improve your pronunciation, and learn a lot of interesting and useful sayings.
Therefore, since I am your dear Italian friend, I decided to write a list of Italian idiomatic phrases for you, so that you will have a handful of sentences and words you can use when speaking Italian – and maybe impress your fellow students in your Italian class or your Italian friends in Italy.
Since there are a lot of idiomatic phrases and sayings, I made a choice and selected only the ones that have something to do with food, mainly because I love food – but you know that already, right?
I have to admit that this was one of the posts I had the most fun writing, because – in order not to miss some important phrases or words – I asked my Facebook friends for help and they gave me a ton of suggestions. We actually came up with 50 sayings, but they could have been more because I decided not to include a few of them as they were strictly regional or a bit off-topic.
This definitely shows the important role played by food in almost every aspect of Italian culture.
You’ll find the list of food-related Italian sayings here below. For each of them, I listed both the literal meaning and the actual one. Since 50 of them would have made this post way too long, I decided to split the list in two. So don’t forget to come back next week and check the second part of the post. There’ll also be a surprise, so I wouldn’t miss the post if I were you.
But let’s focus on the phrases now!
C’entra come i cavoli a merenda!
Literal meaning: it is like cabbage as a mid-afternoon snack
Actual meaning: it has nothing to do with it, it doesn’t match something, it is off-topic
Salvare capra e cavoli.
Literal meaning: to save goat and cabbages
Actual meaning: to get out of a situation saving the interests of both parties involved
Farsi i cavoli propri
Literal meaning: to mind one’s own cabbages
Actual meaning: to mind one’s own business
Non m’importa un fico secco!
Literal meaning: I don’t care a dried fig
Actual meaning: I don’t give a damn
Essere come il prezzemolo.
Literal meaning: to be like parsley
Actual meaning: to be everywhere
Tutto fa brodo.
Literal meaning: everything makes broth
Actual meaning: everything could be useful, anything goes
Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo.
Literal meaning: old hen makes good broth
Actual meaning: it used to describe the positive aspect of a relationship with an older lady
Lascialo cuocere nel suo brodo!
Literal meaning: let him boil in his broth
Actual meaning: do not help him, let him fix things on his own
Se non è zuppa, è pan bagnato!
Literal meaning: if it is not soup, it is wet bread!
Actual meaning: used to describe two things or situations that are just the same
Essere buono come il pane.
Literal meaning: to be as good as bread
Actual meaning: to be a very good person
Essere un pezzo di pane.
Literal meaning: to be a piece of bread
Actual meaning: to be a very good person
Trovare pane per i propri denti.
Literal meaning: to find bread for your own teeth
Actual meaning: to find someone who is as good as you at something
Rendere pan per focaccia.
Literal meaning: to give bread for focaccia (type of bread)
Actual meaning: to repay someone who has done something bad to you in the same way
Dire pane al pane, vino al vino.
Literal meaning: to say bread to bread, wine to wine
Actual meaning: to be frank and open, to express your opinion openly
Chi ha il pane, non ha i denti.
Literal meaning: those who have bread have no teeth
Actual meaning: referred to people who possess something but don’t know how to use it or are not interested in using it
Tanto fumo e niente arrosto!
Literal meaning: a lot of smoke and no roast
Actual meaning: all talk and no action
Rompere le uova nel paniere.
Literal meaning: to break the eggs in the basket
Actual meaning: to upset someone’s plans
Cercare il pelo nell’uovo.
Literal meaning: to look for hair in the egg
Actual meaning: to be very fussy
Ridi, ridi, che la mamma ha fatto i gnocchi.
Literal meaning: laugh, laugh, you mother has made gnocchi
Actual meaning: to be said to someone who laughs but does not realize that there is nothing to laugh about
O mangi la minestra o salti dalla finestra!
Literal meaning: eat the soup or jump out of the window
Actual meaning: you have to do something no matter what, there is no choice
Non c’è trippa per gatti.
Literal meaning: there is no tripe for cats
Actual meaning: there is no chance to do a certain thing
Non tutte le ciambelle escono con il buco.
Literal meaning: no all ring-shaped pies turn out with a hole
Actual meaning: not everything turns out as expected
Essere alla frutta
Literal meaning: to have reached the fruit (referring to the fact fruit comes at the end of the meal)
Actual meaning: to be exhausted, to be really tired, to be at the end of something with no possible solution
Non è farina del tuo sacco.
Literal meaning: that flour doesn’t come from your sack
Actual meaning: this is not your thought or your work (you copied it from somebody else)
Vestirsi a cipolla
Literal meaning: to dress as an onion
Actual meaning: to dress in layers
That’s all for today. Don’t forget to come back next week for the second part of this list of food-related Italian sayings!
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