The Italian language has many idioms and sayings commonly used in everyday spoken language. Many of them represent the so-called saggezza popolare, which is the wisdom of our ancestors. As often happens with most idioms of foreign languages, the main protagonists are animals, each of whom have peculiar and diverse personality traits.

Learning idioms is a fun way to dive into your target language! You will discover a new world made of animals and creativity, as well as pearls of ancestors' wisdom. Let's discover together some of the most famous sayings in Italian; thanks to them we can encounter big animals such as horses, elephants, wolves, and bulls, as well as small ones like geese, flies, chickens and many more. Ready? Let's get started with i modi di dire in Italiano.

Let me introduce to you the protagonists of the story. Nella storia ci sono:

  • 3 cavalli (cavallo bianco, beige e marrone)
  • 3 galline
  • nessuna mosca (you will figure out later who this is)
  • 1 cucciolo di elefante

Now imagine you are entering a green forest and suddenly a herd of three horses running very fast appears in front of you. Please non avere la pelle d’oca, which means don't be afraid! They have been participating in a running competition: one of the them will win the race and the other two horses will take second and third place. They are friendly and explain something about themselves using Italian sayings:

  • Cavallo bianco takes first place and wins the competition. He is the fastest of the group and says, il mio cavallo di battaglia è la corsa. That means running is the thing that he can do best.

Cavallo di battaglia - La cosa che si riesce a fare meglio.

  • Cavallo beige takes second place and during the competition says, sono a cavallo. This means he has reached a very good result, but in this case unfortunately he didn't win the competition.

Essere a cavallo - Essere a buon punto.

  • Cavallo marrone takes third place but doesn't feel well because of a very high flu. He affirms, ho una febbre da cavalli.

Avere una febbre da cavalli - Una febbre molto alta.

We continue to walk into the green forest and suddenly meet a group of chickens with a nest of beautiful white eggs. They say the following:

  1. One of them asks, Secondo te è meglio un uovo oggi o una gallina domani? This means, “In your opinion, would it be better to have an egg today or a chicken tomorrow?” In other words, it is better to receive something tangible today or an unsure but bigger promise tomorrow? How would you answer?
  2. The second one asks, “E nato prima l’uovo o la gallina?” This means, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”
  3. The third and oldest of them will tell you, “Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo” which means, “Experience is a great virtue.”

Our journey in the green forest continues more. Non si sente volare una mosca, which means there is a deep silence. You can't even hear the sound of a fly, but suddenly a small, nice baby elephant appears. He is studying; he loves learning new things and has una memoria da elefante (a very good memory).

Do you know any other sayings about animals? There are many more.

As we continue to walk in the forest we meet a herd of cute baby animals who make different sounds. Let's discover together some of their sounds. Have you ever wondered what sound they make in Italian?

Il cagnolino fa (goes) bau bau.

Il gatto fa (goes) miao miao.

Il cavallo fa (goes) iiih- iiih.

Il topo fa (goes) squit squit.

I hope you have enjoyed our viaggio so far in this mysterious as well as amazing forest. There have been many surprises and adorable animals which informed us about Italian sayings.

Learning in a fun and creative manner can help you to learn better. If you play with languages and enjoy the process of learning a language, you will definitely notice how you to master more and improve faster. Try to write a short story using your imagination; describe the protagonists and their personality traits. Imagine dialogues between them. Try to write your own tale entirely in Italian. This could be fun!

In bocca al lupo with your studies!

Hero image by Moyann Brenn (CC-BY-ND-2.0). Cropped.