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Florentine "Proverbi", Expressions and Behaviour

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This Every Day Life Guide will help you understand terms, traditions, proverbs and curiosities while in Florence:
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Florentine 'Proverbi', Expressions and Behaviour

'A i' contadino un far sapere quant'e bono i' cacio con le pere'

'Don't let the peasant know how good cheese is with pears' - to signify how good is cheese (in this case'pecorino'), with pears. But also 'salame' with figs is very good...

'In corpo c'e buio'

'It is dark inside the body' - the body inside, referring to the stomach, doesn't recognize what kind of food one digests, so let's not be fussy.

'Essere ridotto al lumicino'

'to be reduced to a tiny light' - it means to not have any more emotional resources, to be emotionally exhausted, usually due to some heavy situation.

The sense of people, of being people, has always been strong in Florentines, and, on one hand, thanks to this fact, proverbs and expressions are kept so vivid and many of them date back to centuries ago....

On the other hand, let's not underestimate the power of 'vulgar' words, which are commonly present in Florentine's ancient and modern expressions, behaviour and proverbs... after all, 'vulgar' means 'of the people'. So there are many many proverbs, as for example:

'Pane di Prato, vin di Pomino, potta lucchese e cinci fiorentino'

'Bread from Prato, wine from Pomino, food from Lucca and d... from Florence' - to describe the best of Tuscany...

And blasphemies in the tradition of Florence since ancient times are the expression of genuine and spontaneous anger, surprise and perhaps a sort of exorcism for negativity...


'arse' is a very commonly used word and has these 'moral' meanings...:
  • 'avere c...' - to be lucky
  • 'avere sc...' or 'essere sc..ato' - to be unlucky
  • 'essere con il c... per terra' - to have financial problems
  • 'fare il c... a' - to make someone pay for what he's done
'Ave' piu c... che anima' 'To have more luck than soul' - it means to be incredibly lucky.

...and also 'geographic':
  • 'va' fa' n c...' - 'go to hell'
  • 'in c... al mondo' - lit. 'at the bottom of the earth', in the furthest place
  • 'prendere per il c...' - to pull someone's leg
  • 'prenderla in c...' - to be deceived, betrayed

'Firenze la citta dell'arte, va in c... a chi arriva e a chi parte'

'Florence, the city of the arts, sends to hell all those who arrive and who leave' - it refers to all those who complain and insist in leaving or moving.

'Fortuna sfacciata'

'shameless luck' - It means lots of luck.


The rivalries between Florence and other Tuscan cities is very well known...like in Medieval times, when it was said for example: 'Meglio un morto in casa che un Pisano all'uscio' ('It is better to have a dead man at home than a Pisan at the door'...), because Pisans were known for destroying their neighbours' villages.

Florentine Pride

Florentine Pride may come from the fact that Florence is self-made, meaning that for example important families, like the Medici, were hard working people, shrewd and skilled, which led them to become one of the most influential families in the Renaissance.

Today, things have changed a little bit, the exposure to the whole world is huge and inevitable for the opening of the city to different cultures and behaviours.

However, many Florentines' characteristics have remained the same and they can clearly be recognized: they are easy-going, very cynical and sarcastic, quite natural and spontaneous, direct, sometimes too direct, and genuine, they are controversial and have always something to say about anything; they are quite influenced about the weather; they love love, have beauty, culture and history in their blood, and there is simplicity in their elegance.

Literary Italian

The literary Italian language has its base in the Florentine of Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio and Machiavelli, because it was considered the Italian with the less intonations and 'distorsions' and the more correct and clear words (Dante was the first to document and officialize the common 'vulgar' language, the language of the 'volgo', the common people)...

Florence Dialects

... Florence has its 'dialect' words too, as for example:
  • the letter 'c' sometimes becomes an aspirate 'h' in front of the vocals 'a', 'o' and 'u' and a 'sh' in front of the vocals 'i' and 'e'
  • the same with the letter 'g'...
  • ...and with the letter 't', which becomes 'th' with a vocal
  • 'cosa' for 'what' becomes 'i'cche'
  • 'non' (not) becomes ''un'
  • 'nel' ('in the', plus a masculine-gender word) becomes 'ni''
  • 'io vado' (I go), 'io faccio' (I do) become respectively 'io vo'' and 'io fo''
  • 'vuoi' (you want) becomes 'voi'
  • in certain cases, a word which starts with a consonant has that consonant pronounced double when the previous word or article ends with or is a vocal, for example:
    • 'I go home' is said and pronounced 'io vo' a ccasa'
  • 'buono' (good) becomes 'bono', which also acquires a second very common meaning: a lightly vulgar synonym of 'good-looking'...
  • 'mia' and 'mio' (my) are reduced to 'la mi'' and 'i'mmi', while it is 'mia' for both-gender plurals to signify 'mine'
  • 'spegnere' (to turn off), becomes 'spengere'
  • 'tu' (you) becomes 'te', and when 'te' is not necessary, it becomes 'tu', for example: 'cosa fai?', 'what are you doing?', becomes 'i' cche tu ffai?'.
... and such words are very Florentine and Tuscan:
  • 'babbo' - it was considered the correct Italian word for 'father, daddy'
  • 'chetarsi' - to be quiet, to shut up
  • 'grullo' or bischero - stupid; a little accultured and shrewd person, who doesn't have a convenient attitude
  • 'sciocco' - lit. 'silly', in Tuscany it is also used to mean 'unsalted'
  • 'sudicio' - lit. 'dirt', to mean 'garbage' ('buttare i' ssudicio' is 'to throw the dirt')
  • 'garbare' - to be liked
  • 'desinare' - to have lunch
  • 'gota' - cheek
  • 'granata' - broom

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