10 very useful Italian idioms… explained through emoticons!

How long | 2 minutes

Understanding and using properly Italian idioms can often be a hard challenge for those who want to learn Italian, even when going through an Italian language course but, hey! Technology can help. 🙂

Here’s a list of 10 very useful Italian idioms… explained through emoticons.

1.Che pizza! 🍕
Let’s begin with a very simple yet very Italian expressionChe pizza! (What a pizza!) is often said when referring to something boring 😐 or repetitive, because after all we are in Italy where the pizza’s cultural influences are limitless.

2. Non sto mica qui ad asciugare gli scogli! ☔ 🌊 ☔
This literally translates to: “I’m not here drying sea stacks (rocks in the sea)”, a colourful way to say “I’m not doing something useless / I am doing something worthy”. For example, you may find yourself at work, absorbed in your tasks, and then suddenly a colleague demands what you’ve been up to “Where have you been?!”: this might be one of those moments when to say “Non sto mica qui ad asciugare gli scogli”. A variant of this expression is “Non sto qui a pettinare le bambole” (I’m not here combing dolls). 🎎 🎎

3. Prendere fischi per fiaschi.  🎉 🎉
To understand ‘whistles’ (fischi) instead of ‘wicker wine basket’ (fiaschi). Let’s face it, the English translation is really not that great 🤔 as the Italian expression is entirely based on its use of alliteration between the Italian words fischi (/ˈfiski/) and fiaschi (/ˈfjaski/). Without further ado, it simply means to misunderstand something.😅

4. Hai voluto la bicicletta? Adesso pedala! 🚲 🚲 🚲 🚲 
“Didn’t you want a bicycle? Now ride”: pretty self-explanatory I think. 😀

5. Ogni scarrafone è bello a mamma soja. 🐞👪
This one is actually a Neapolitan dialect rather than standard Italian language, but it’s so famous that its usage became popular from the South all the way to the North of Italy. It translates to: “Every beetle is beautiful to his mother”, meaning that for mothers their child/children will always be special and beautiful (even when life shows that there’s room for improvement, but none of us are perfect so let’s not even go there 😜 ) . The beetle isn’t exactly the cutest thing out there!

6. Se mio nonno avesse le ruote, sarebbe una carriola. ☸ ☸ ☸
“If my grandpa had wheels it would be a wheelbarrow”. A very pragmatic sentence, meaning that it’s pointless to think “If this, then that…”. 🤔 🤔

7. Durare da Natale a Santo Stefano.
“Lasting from Christmas 🎄 to Saint Stephen’s day”. Santo Stefano (for the non-Catholic
readers) is celebrated on the 26th of December, so this idiom is used to point out that
something will last for a very short period of time, be it the quality of an item or the predicted duration of your friends new relationship..

8. Avere il braccino corto.
“To have a tiny short arm” simply means to be stingy 💵 ❌… Since you have such short arms you struggle to reach your wallet. Cheeky!

9. Dare le perle ai porci.
“To give pearls to pigs” 🐷 means when you give something to someone who is not able to appreciate the quality/importance of it.

10. Sto con una mano davanti e una di dietro. 👋 👋
Last but not least, here we have my favourite Italian idiom. “I’m with one hand at the front and one at the back” (with the intention to cover one’s nudity) which means… “I’m broke”, or, literally, “I’m covering my private parts for I don’t have money to afford pants”.  😂 😂 What I find amusing is how well it depicts the idea – definitely more colourful and better said in Italian than in English.☺

So what do you think? Which Italian expression did you find the most amusing or interesting 💡 ? Did we miss something out? Let us know in the comments below! ⬇ ⬇ ⬇ ⬇

Originally published on www.kappalanguageschool.com.


Let’s go shopping! An infographic

If you are planning to survive in Italy, you definitely need to know where to go to buy everyday stuff, namely you need to learn Italian words related to shop and small business names. As always, Kappa Language School is here to help you learning the hard stuff in a colorful way: here’s a brand new (horizontal!) infographic you might want to check before going out on your shopping spree in the Belpaese!

Learn Italian words: il menù in italiano!

I bet that one of the main reasons most of you guys are in love with Italy (and studying Italian language) is your attraction for Italian food, and you are damn right about that! With such an amazing variety of ingredients and dishes, Italian cuisine is a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and part of the world cultural heritage!

Despite being worldly renown, though, a traditional Italian meal has a structure that many of our Italian language students (especially the ones coming from the far east) find puzzling. For many of those who approach Italian cuisine and are used to meals based on a single dish, the distinction between primo and secondo might seem useless and confusing, and the fact that an Italian lunch (or dinner) is often divided in 3 or more dishes can give the impression of an unnecessary generous meal.

Now, we do not expect to turn you into a three-stars chef or teach you everything our nonna told us about Italian food, but we really hope this brand new infographic, Il menù in italiano, will help you sorting out some useful information you can use during you next pranzo!

menuTavola disegno 1800px

Learn Italian words: il corpo umano

The vocabulary related to human body is always one of the toughest challenges for an Italian language student, since usually this particular semantic area is full of false friends and very specific words which seem to have no relation with their Gemanic equivalents.
As usual, Kappa Language School is here to help: we have prepared a brand new infographic whic will guide you through the discover of a new bit of Italian language!

Keep on learning Italian words and grammar with us and follow our blog and our website!

Learn italian words: le “faccine”!

The internet, we all know, has simplified our lives allowing us to communicate instantaneously covering huge distances at the speed of a click. It has also created a new, interesting paralanguage, made of little funny faces we all know under the name of emoticons (faccine in Italian internet slang), the meaning of which is universal as well as human emotions are. This, for an Italian language student, might make things very much easier, but being aware of the Italian words hidden beneath the smiley is definitely something useful.

We know you’re eager to start chatting in Italian with your penfriends or your Italian Language School friends, but just take a minute to check this new infographic translating for you the most common faccine in Italian!


6 tips for discovering Rome without acting like a tourist

You might be in Rome for tourism but, as a general rule, being seen by locals as a tourist is something best avoided.

Now, let’s take a minute to define the word “tourist”: according to the Merriam-Webster, a tourist is “one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture”. Although a slight interest for local culture should be implicit in touring, the sheer meaning of the word “tourist” implies a confining sense of transience. And for a person who’s really interested in getting to know Italian Language and Culture, this is something to avoid or, at least, to limit.

Our aim is to help you find your way while discovering the best of Italian Culture, at the same time experiencing Italy as a local: that is why we’ve prepared a short vademecum of things you DON’T want to do when touring, living or studying in Italy, unless you want to be considered one of the many tourists that every day pass through the Bel Paese.


Let’s get down to basics: Rome (as well as Italy) is a treasure chest so full of hidden gems not even locals are able to discover them all in a lifetime. Of course, the Colosseum, S. Pietro and the Trevi Fountain (which btw is not a bathtub) are sights which are too important to miss, but why not spice up your stay in Rome a little by venturing to the almost forgotten but unimaginably important small churches, or Rome’s fascinating borgate with their outstanding variety of street art masterpieces? There’s a tour for everyone, if you search hard enough.

On the road & in the streets

The streets of Rome, brilliantly sang by artists such as Bob Dylan, are certainly a place of breathtaking beauty: you can find a glimpse of the glorious past of the city on every street corner, and yet the whole city is immersed in a mellow, decadent atmosphere. But once on the road, you have to learn how to watch your step, as traffic can be really wild and it’s not unusual to spot packs of tourists lined up on the sidewalk, waiting for the right moment to cross the street.

Now, I’ll try to put this simply: crossing the streets in Rome requires some skills. We call it “the pigeon technique” (la tattica del piccione): if you have to cross, just do it, provided there’s a reasonable distance between the upcoming cars and your body. Drivers will eventually stop, especially if you are bold enough to fearlessly look into their eyes as you would do with an attacking animal. And there you go: you will be on the other side without even noticing, and actually feel more self-confident than ever. It’s the law of the jungle, folks!

The same cannot be said for bikers (and bike tours): you really have to be reckless to ride a bike in the city center without the supervision of a local. Rome is simply not equipped for cycling, except for certain areas. If you really want to experience Rome on two wheels, make friends with a local and let himor her help you.

Eating & drinking

Yes, I know you came to Italy mainly for the food. Who doesn’t? Even Italians travel all along the country to taste local delicacies. But remember: food in Italy is a serious matter, and Italians tend to get really bitchy about their meals (and the way you might want to experience them). Obvious advice and common sense aside (avoid tourist traps, eat local and with locals), if you really want to prevent astonished looks from the locals you should follow these simple rules:

Cappuccino CAN NOT be the happy ending of your meal. It is something we consume strictly before 12pm, specifically for breakfast. Ordering a cappuccino at a restaurant is like buying a computer from a furniture store. The restaurateur might give you what you want, but you will break his\her heart. Do you really want that?

Pizza in Rome is thin and provides just a limited variety of toppings. Beware of odd variants unless you are in a pizzeria which is famous among locals for its creativity.

– Never pay more than 8€ for your pizza margherita. In Italy good food can be extremely cheap: you can get a decent Italian wine for 10€ and fill yourself up with 15€ in a pizzeria (supplì included). Although you shouldn’t drink wine with pizza: for that we have Peroni.

– Remember that spaghetti bolognese IS NOT A THING IN ITALY. They can literally kick you out of the restaurant, if the owner is in a bad mood.


This is a bit of a sore subject. Italians are widely known for their loose approach to PDOA, their open display of emotions and their genuineness and yet, if you really want to blend in, you should remember that Rome is not Miami nor LA, and that Romans tend to consider people going around the city in Bermudas and flip-flops as quirky but a little disturbing. Plus, as Louis CK used to say, every big city is basically a huge pile of dirt, and Rome is no exception: knowing this, do you still want to go around wearing flip-flops?

Everyone has his or her own style, but looking around you to see what locals do is always a good strategy and a matter of common sense when in a foreign country. This applies especially to Rome, the privileged destination of millions of tourists every year.


Binge drinking, in Italy, can be a thing when it comes to depressed medium-sized suburban towns, but drinking only to get pissed is really something Italians don’t do – although the average age for the first sip of alcohol in Italy is approximately 6. So forget about your night out at a club downing one shot after another: if you do this in Rome, you’ve been caught in a tourist trap. For further information, take a look at this very instructive video. Knowledge is power. 🙂

Italian language

And here we are, in our area of expertise. As Italian language teachers, we wouldn’t dare to criticise the happy ones who try to learn and speak Italian: every effort is indeed appreciated, even if it is just an impromptu. Italian people, on the other hand, tend to be annoyed by very few and specific things, such as the mispronounciation of grazie (which is often spelled “grazy” by anglo-american speakers) or the ridicolous outcomes of expressions such as buongiorno (see picture for lulz). That said, if you really want to fit in, learning some basic expressions (and practice your pronunciation) in Italian language is definitely a good move, although in Italy you will always find someone who will be able to help you using alternative forms of communication, such as Italian hand gestures. 🙂

Originally poste on www.kappalanguageschool.com.

La casa in italiano: an infographic

Have you ever been inside an Italian home? Well, it is probably pretty much like yours, except everything is in Italian!
As usual, we’re here to help: check out our new infographic about Italian words for rooms, forniture and all the thing you can find inside a proper house!

Learn Italian words: la casa in italiano