When you first arrive under the Two Towers, does it feel like all you hear are a bunch of meaningless phrases that you’ve never heard of? Even if you’ve studied some Italian, you might still feel like a fish out of water! Here are some of Bologna’s most famous idioms so you can fit right in with the locals.
Buttare il rusco
This is a classic phrase and one of the first to confuse visitors. Even other Italians are perplexed by the mysterious Bolognese “rusco”! When your roommate asks “Butti tu il rusco?” what are you supposed to do? Fear not, all you have to do is tie up the trash bag and take it out to the bin.
In short, buttare il rusco = throw out the trash.
Dare il tiro
Imagine that you’re having dinner at home with your roommates and you’ve all ordered pizza. The food finally arrives and you hear the pizza delivery ring the bell for your apartment from the building entrance. That’s when you hear “Dai il tiro!” So what do you do next? You buzz them in so the delivery service can bring up your delicious pizza!
Dare il tiro = Buzz in/Open the door
You’re at the supermarket getting some mortadella (because food is the best way to quickly settle into Bolognese culture) and you’re waiting your turn to order at the deli counter. The clerk asks the customer in front of us “Altro?” (anything else?), and the customer replies “Altro”. If you know a bit of Italian, you will naturally assume that now the customer will order something else…. But instead, they pick up their bags and leave! In this case, the answer “Altro” means “no, nothing else”.
Mi suda anche la lingua in bocca
This is the perfect phrase for a hot summer day. If we’re sitting in the piazza, gasping for air between sips of water and fanning our face, we will most likely hear a voice nearby exclaim “Mi suda anche la lingua in bocca!” (Even my tongue is sweating) This isn’t a difficult expression to understand if you can imagine being so hot that even your tongue starts to sweat!
Mi suda anche la lingua in bocca = it’s so hot
The perfect way to describe an evening with friends. What’s better than going out for a few hours and having fun together? If you have a great group of friends, then all you need for a good “balotta” is to hang out and relax.
Fare balotta = hang out with friends
When we are fed up with someone and just want them to stop bugging us, sometimes we just have to bring the conversation to a halt. If you hear someone shout an exasperated “bóna lé”, then they have clearly reached their limit with someone or something. Time to take a break and move on to something else.
Bóna lé = enough
Andare a busso/andare a manetta
If you’re riding a bus with a driver that is speeding through the streets, you might hear another passenger say “Come va a busso!” (or perhaps “Come va a manetta”). This phrase might even be accompanied by the bus taking a hairpin turn at full speed, so as you cling to your seat and try to avoid falling, it becomes clear that your traveling companion is commenting on the speed of the vehicle!
Andare a busso/andare a manetta = go very fast / full throttle
An expression of greeting between friends (especially among young people). Those who have just arrived in Bologna will probably be a little surprised to hear young people in their early twenties greeting each other with “bella vèz”. You might wonder, “Doesn’t ‘vèz’ mean ‘old’? They aren’t old!” Regardless of actual age though, this is the most popular greeting among “old” friends.
Bella vèz = Hi (old friend)
Springtime and allergies often cause a lot of sneezing, but colds are no joke either! So when you draw attention to yourself with a loud “achoo”, you might hear someone respond with “bandéssa!”. This is the Bolognese way of wishing you good health.
Bandéssa = bless you/ gesundheit
At first, you might think this sound is similar to the French “oui”… and you’d be exactly right! If someone answers you with “ói” they are agreeing with you, or at least giving an affirmative answer.
Ói = Yes
Do you know any other Bolognese expressions?
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