The most Italian thing to say: top 10 expressions

By Go! Go! Italia staff
29 Sep 2023
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Photo of someone speaking Italian

You’ve been immersing yourself in Italian and now wish to take that extra step to speak like a native by incorporating authentic Italian expressions? When it comes to describing emotions, opinions, or just adding a touch of flair to everyday conversations, Italians have a way with words like no other. Italian culture is rich in history and tradition, and their language reflects this beautifully. 

Iconic phrases such as Mamma mia! or La dolce vita are expressions known worldwide for capturing the essence of Italian emotion, this article aims to delve deeper than these two well-known Italian expressions. 

From colloquial idioms to regional dialects, Italy’s linguistic tapestry is a treasure trove waiting to be explored by those who are passionate about mastering the art of Italian communication. So, whether you’re sipping espresso at a Roman café, enjoying a gondola ride through the Venetian canals, or simply practicing your Italian with friends, you’ll be equipped with the linguistic nuances and hidden gems that will truly make you sound like a native.

Photo of girl learning Italian expressions

Here are our top 10 Italian expressions that are undeniably the most Italian things to say.

Chi dorme non piglia pesci – He who sleeps doesn’t catch any fish. This proverb emphasizes the importance of taking action and not being idle if you want to achieve something.

Tutto è bene quel che finisce bene – All’s well that ends well. This Italian expression reflects the Italian optimism that, in the end, things will work out for the best.

Farla franca – To make it frank. This Italian expression is used when someone gets away with something without facing any consequences, often implying they’ve dodged a situation cleverly.

Essere al verde – To be in the green. This expression means to be broke or out of money.

In bocca al lupo – In the mouth of the wolf. This expression is Italy’s equivalent of “break a leg.” It’s a way of wishing someone good luck, and the appropriate response is Crepi il lupo (may the wolf die).

Avere le mani in pasta – To have your hands in the dough. Food is at the heart of Italian culture, so it’s no surprise that they have an expression related to cooking. This phrase means being involved in something, just like kneading dough.

L’appetito vien mangiando – Appetite comes while eating. Another Italian expression food related, it reflects the idea that one’s appetite tends to grow as they start eating. 

Tra il dire e il fare c’è di mezzo il mare – Between saying and doing, there is the sea. It suggests that turning words into actions can be a challenging and distant process.

Ogni morte di Papa – Every death of a Pope. This colorful expression means “very rarely” or “once in a blue moon.” It humorously suggests that something happens so infrequently that it’s as rare as the death of a Pope.

Avere sale in zucca – To have salt in the pumpkin. This phrase means to be clever or intelligent. The use of zucca (pumpkin) in the expression symbolizes a person’s head.

In the world of language, these Italian expressions are more than just words; they are a gateway to a world of history, culture, and passion. They invite us to explore and appreciate the unique way of life that Italy offers.

So, as you continue immersing yourself in the art of language, don’t forget to incorporate these charming and insightful Italian expressions into your vocabulary. They not only offer a glimpse into the Italian soul but also enhance your ability to connect with the culture and its people on a deeper level.

If you’re inspired to embark on a journey to study the Italian language in more depth, we’re here to help you find the best school tailored to your needs. Feel free to contact us for guidance and support as you set forth on your Italian language adventure.

And don’t forget to follow us on our social media for more content about Italy and Italian culture! Ciao!

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