Italian greetings: hello in Italian

10 Idiomatic Italian Expressions for Authentic Speak

Idiomatic expressions are phrases or sayings that often have a metaphorical meaning that differs from the words’ literal meaning. Italians use idiomatic expressions as an integral part of the language in everyday conversation.

This article will explore some of the most common Italian idiomatic expressions and how they can be used in conversation.

Want to Sound Like a True Italian? Learn These 10 Idiomatic Italian Expressions

1. Fare buon viso a cattivo gioco

Translation and Meaning: Making a good face to a lousy game means “having a positive attitude even in an unfavorable situation.”


  • Quando sono la’ faccio buon viso a cattivo gioco.
  • When I’m there, I have a positive attitude even if I don’t like the situation.

2. Essere alla frutta

essere alla frutta idiomatic Italian expression

Translation and Meaning: To be at the fruit, and the meaning is “to be at the end of something and be out of energy.”


  • Alla fine dell’allenamento ero alla frutta.
  • At the end of the workout I was beat.

3. Essere al verde

Translation and Meaning: To be at the green means “to be without money, to be penniless.”


  • Come mai sei sempre al verde?
  • How come you’re always without money?

Suggested Read: 47 Best Italian Sayings About Life: Proverbs & Quotes

4. Essere un pezzo di pane

Translation and Meaning: Being a piece of bread means “being a good person.”


  • Luigi e’ un pezzo di pane.
  • Luigi is a good person.

5. Facile come bere un bicchier d’acqua

Translation and Meaning: As easy as drinking a glass of water. This is a metaphor that shows how a specific action is easy or is deemed to be easy. This is the equivalent of the English “easy as a piece of cake.”


  • L’esame e’ stato facile come bere un bicchier d’acqua.
  • The exam was a piece of cake.

6. Fare le scarpe

Translation and Meaning: Making shoes means “to take someone else’s place.”


  • Gli ha fatto le scarpe e ha preso il suo posto.
  • He won and took over his position.

Suggested Read: 20 Best Shoe Brands in Italy: Top Italian Shoes

7. Finché c’è vita c’è speranza

Translation and Meaning: As long as there is life, there is hope. Italians use this idiomatic expression to manifest hope.


  • Non ti arrendere, finche’ c’e’ vita c’e’ speranza.
  • Don’t give up. There’s still hope.

8. Fischiare le orecchie

fischiare le orecchie Italian expression

Translation and Meaning: Whistling the ears. In Italian jokes and humor, this amusing expression suggests someone is gossiping about you.


  • Ieri mi sono fischiate le orecchie. Stavate parlando di me?
  • Yesterday my ears were whistling. Were you talking about me?

9. Gettare la spugna

Translation and Meaning: Throwing the sponge. This expression is the equivalent of the English “throwing the towel”. The meaning is “to surrender.”


  • Alla fine ha gettato la spugna.
  • In the end, he threw the towel.

10. Non vedo l’ora

Translation and Meaning: I don’t see the hour. It’s used to express excitement and anticipation for something that’s going to happen soon


  • Non vedo l’ora di andare in vacanza!
  • I can’t wait to go on vacation!

Further Reading:

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