Italian language: Rainy expressions
- WTI Magazine #114 Apr 20, 2019
In Italy we say: Marzo pazzerello, aprile con l’ombrello – March is a goofy fellow, in April you need the umbrella – so what a better topic for April than rain? This month I’m going to tell you all about Italian expressions that have to do with rain. Let’s begin!
In Italy, every month has a specific quality to it, and April is the rainy month of the year, other than the sleepy one, because, let’s be honest, who isn’t constantly sleepy in April? Either for allergies, or the sweet spring laziness everyone feels a little drowsy. Anyway, in April, spring starts doing its magic, but to do so, it needs to sprinkle its magic all over the plants through water. It could be pioggerellina – a little sprinkle – or a acquazzone – a heavy shower, or lately even a temporale – a summer storm – but sure enough it will indeed rain.
But what are some of the most common expressions? Well, we can begin only with piovere a catinelle – literally “to rain in buckets” or the equivalent of the British “to rain cats and dogs.” And you know that it’s going to rain heavily because cielo a pecorelle, pioggia catinelle – Sheep-shaped clouds above town, it’s going to bucket down. But we also say tanto tuonò che piovve – it thundered so much, at the end it rained– for something that happens after being threatened for a very long time. Another expression is fare la pioggia e il bel tempo – make both the rain and the good wheather – and it’s used in a situation in which a person imposes themselves, they have the chance, the power, or the capacity to impose their ideas on everyone else.
Or the rain could be used in a satirical way: Piove, governo ladro! meaning “it rains, thieving government!” – which is a satirical expression referring to the habit of always blaming the government for everything, in this case even the rain. Or it could be used ironically: Piovere sul bagnato – to rain on wet land – means that it rains where it does not need to rain. It is usually used when someone rich or with a lot of opportunities gets even more money or more opportunities. It is very common to hear piove sempre sul bagnato, “it always rains on wet land.” Similar to the English “When it rains it pours” but usually it is used to talk about something good.
We even use the rain with Biblical references. Piove dal cielo – it rains from the sky – is used when something comes into our lives or someone else’s like a blessing, or to be exact like the manna that dropped – in Italian, it rained – from heaven. In Italian, it is usually used in the passive form, so, for example, if we want to say “It’s an opportunity dropped from heaven,” we would say: È un’opportunità piovuta dal cielo.”
And, as usual, the last one is my absolute favorite expression. I’m talking about Non ci piove! – it doesn’t rain there! What does it mean? The closest English expression would be “There’s no doubt.” It’s used to highlight the fact that something is 100% certain, there is, indeed, no doubt about it. As you can probably guess, it adds a little more color than the more neutral English expression.
Even if it’s a little (too) rainy, non ci piove, I love spring, its colors, its nature, and its warmer temperatures. Let’s enjoy this April, and let’s hope for not too many cieli a pecorelle!