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Venetian dialect: the most famous expressions

Venetian dialect: the most famous expressions

January 2023

On the occasion of the Italian National Dialect Day (January 17), it is almost our moral duty to dedicate an article to the most famous sayings of our beloved Venetian dialect.

During your stay, while walking through Venice’s alleys (calli) and little squares (campi), you might indeed catch some of the most common expressions and idioms.

Some are really funny and, in our opinion, well represent the most authentic local mood.

“Co le ciacole no se impasta e fritole”

Meaning: “You can’t knead frittelle with chiacchiere

This expression means that small talk (chiacchiere or ciacole in dialect) never leads to anything concrete (frittelle or fritole in dialect). Fritole (roundish sweet fritters) are a Venetian sweet typical of Carnival. The dough is made of flour, eggs, milk and sugar, raisins and pine nuts. They are fried and served with a sprinkling of sugar. A delicious specialty that you should definitely try!

This expression hides a pun too: ciacole, which means small talk, is also the name of another dessert typical of the Venice Carnival, but very different from fritole.

“Un goto par mi e na spuma par el bocia”

Meaning: “I’ll have a glass of wine and the child will have a lemonade (or another non-alcoholic drink)”

This is an iconic and even a little nostalgic expression that takes us back a few decades, when we used to spend hours with our grandparents, including going with them to the local osteria.

And right here, in the presence of the almost mythological figure of the oste (the bartender), our grandpa used to order a glass of wine (goto) for him and a soft drink (spuma) for us. In some cases the famous spuma could have been lemonade, in others orangeade or even the real Spuma Nera Baladin, ancestor of the current Italian Chinotto.

“Te si na bronsa cuerta”

Meaning: “You are like embers covered by ashes”

This is a very widespread expression not only in Venice but throughout the whole Veneto region. We tell it to those people who appear calm but, once you get to know them better, turn out to be restless, very lively or troublemakers.

“Ferma tuto che me par na sagra”

Meaning: “Stop! Because it looks like a festival to me!”

In Veneto people use this expression very often to reassure or clarify a situation that got out of hand, either due to the manners or tone used. It’s like saying, “Slow down a minute! There is so much confusion that I feel like I’m at a festival”.

And it completely makes sense, doesn’t it?

“Mi aa to età saltavo i fossi par longo”

Meaning: “At your age, I used to jump the ditches from their long side”

This expression is still very popular today and it usually addresses younger people. It means that in comparison, at their own age, we accomplished much tougher feats.

Therefore, a way to encourage someone to try harder or to stay strong, instead of giving up.

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