MAMMA MIA! - Parlare with Passione...

Let's not fool ourselves: With the vocabulary knowledge from the online course, we can only shine moderately in Italy. Speaking Italian in a matter-of-fact and calm manner could be downright disturbing in the land of the Grandi Emozioni...

An everyday conversation on the street sounds like great drama in Italy. Those gestures, those emozioni and then a torrent of words, or rather a flood of words. Beware: such "drama" could only be about the newly planned balcony planting.

collage of portraits of cheerful woman
Gestures, grimaces, passion: speaking Italian is a feeling
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

The fact is: if you want to keep up in the bel paese, you have to speak Italian with emozioni. Try our three favourite phrases: guaranteed original.

1. your eyes are lined with ham.

>>> "Hai gli occhi foderati di prosciutto!!!"

Means: "Do you have tomatoes on your eyes - why can't you see that?" But why use tomatoes when you can have a slice of Parma ham? At least for the meat lovers among us.

In Italy, as we all know, life is bella. Even for those who check less. Speaking Italian can somehow also be tasted.

ham, speak italian properly
For the meat lovers: a "salumeria" a sausage and cheese shop in Bari


2. you have a chicken brain.

>>> "Hai un cervello di gallina..."
brood of hen
But chickens are much more intelligent than their reputation...
Photo by Italo Melo on

Means: "Wow, you're stupid." A sparrow's brain is smaller than a hazelnut. A chicken brain is as big as a walnut. In Germany, for example, you have a sparrow's brain (if you're stupid), in Italy you have a chicken's brain.

Does that mean that even the dumbest people from Italy are still twice as smart as those from Germany...?

3. you cut off the bull's head.

>>> Tagli la testa al toro!
brown and white cow on grassfield, speaking italian properly
Bull on the pasture: Don't get nervous now...
Photo by chepté cormani on

Means: "Great, you are a real doer. You don't fiddle around for long". Why stack low when you can stack higher: Italians go straight for a bull. Sounds like heroics. Beware - it could just mean the extra thorough weekly cleaning of the hallway.

Addendum. To be honest, the average person in Italy is already happy if you can speak a few words in Italian. But, as we all know, it never hurts to have an ace up your sleeve.

P.S. What's your favourite phrase - we're working on a sequel.


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written by Pietro Perroni, first published 16.9.21 , updated 12.9.22

Cover photo/montage - Photo: Aaron Amat/Getty Images

Source: La Mamma