Author: Alexandra Lawrence

Alexandra Lawrence specializes in cultural history and is an accredited guide for Italian museums and archeological sites. Join one of her online conversations with art at and follow her on Twitter @italyalexandra and on Instagram @italyalexandra055.
November 7, 2013

Cinta, Aradio, Pettata

Cinta: Belt Example: ‘Che te la se’ messa la cinta? Tu perdi i calzoni!’ (‘Did you put on your belt? Your pants are falling down!’)     Aradio: Radio Example: ‘Allora, spegni l’aradio, un si dorme!’ (‘Oh, turn off the
October 24, 2013

Strangeness and peace

There was a raging Twitter debate recently about the magnetizing force of the Impressionists: can there be too much of a good thing? Does the world really need another Impressionists exhibition? Though an affirmative case for both could certainly be made, it seems that the collective interest in the most

Partire, Andito, Spengere

Partire: To divvy something up (bread, wine, meat, etc.); to give out   Example: ‘O nìni, parti i’ pane così e s’inizia a mangiare.’ (‘Little one, divvy up the bread so we can start eating.’)     Àndito: Entranceway
October 10, 2013

Sfavato, Cimbardosa, Va’ par che torni

Sfavato: Bored to death, unmotivated, unenthusiastic.   Example: ‘Icchè t’hai oggi? Ti vedo sfavato.’ (‘What’s wrong with you today? You look totally bored to death.’)     Cimbardosa: A gossip, big mouth, windbag.   Example: ‘Quella cimbardosa di’ piano
February 14, 2013

Restoring the Tribune

Entering the Tribune in the 1580s, visitors must have felt as if they had been dropped into a giant treasure chest that had opened suddenly and surprisingly just for their benefit. The sumptuous octagonal room located in the Uffizi's eastern corridor was topped by a cupola with golden ribs
January 31, 2013

Essere un muso, Troiaio, Sbrindelloni

  Essere un muso: To be a tough guy. One who has a large set of certain male attributes. In polite company, we might use the expression ‘to have guts.’ Example: ‘Di certo i’ tù fratello l’è proprio un muso, unnà avuto paura di que’ delinquenti!’ (‘Your brother sure has guts! He wasn’t even afraid […]
January 17, 2013

Briaco come un tegolo, Ci vogliano le binde, Imbastire

‘Briaco come un tegolo: Literally, as drunk as a roof tile (which gets soaking in the rain!). In American English, to be drunk as a skunk.   Example: ‘Ieri sera alla festa l’ero briaco come un tegolo, ‘un mi ricordo più nulla!’ (‘Last night at the party I was as drunk as a skunk; I […]
November 22, 2012

Ciantelle, Ischerzo, Portonno

Ciantelle: House shoes; slippers.   Example: ‘Ahh guarda, io appena entro in casa e mi metto subito le ciantelle!' (‘Oh as soon as I get home I'm putting my slippers on!')     Ischerzo: A joke.   Example: ‘O nini, un lo dire nemmeno pe' ischerzo!' (&
November 8, 2012

Si rassega, Denti bacati, Trence

Si rassega: Literally, to congeal from the cold. To freeze.   Example: ‘O nini, senti che freddo e si rassega!' (‘Oh, little one, feel how cold it is! We'll freeze!')     Denti bacati: Teeth with cavities.   Example: ‘I' mi' nipote un fa che mangiare
October 25, 2012

Culaia, Gorfe, Guazza

Questo tempo fa culaia: Expression to indicate that rain is on the way.   Example: ‘Mmm, questo tempo fa culaia; mi sa che fra poco inizia a piovere!" (‘Mmm, the clouds are gathering; I think it's going to start raining soon!')     Gòrfe: In