Italian expression of the day: ‘Fa caldo’

Italian expression of the day: 'Fa caldo'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This phrase will get you through the Italian summer.

If you're in Italy at the moment, you've probably heard this phrase (or some variation on it) a hundred times already this week.

And if you've got enough energy left to speak, you may have uttered it a few times yourself.

– Mamma mia, fa caldo oggi!

– Mamma mia, it's hot today!

Of course, the fact that caldo sounds a lot like the English word “cold” confuses plenty of beginner Italian students. But it definitely means hot. (imagine a bubbling cauldron – that word has the same Latin root as caldo.)

It's also curious that instead of using the verb essere (to be), Italians use fare (to do or make) here. So the phrase literally translates as “It makes hot” rather than “it is hot”.

Fa caldo should always be said with a note of incredulity for maximum effect – because who was expecting this heat in Italy, in July?

I tend to exclaim 'fa caldo!” automatically every time I open the car door on a hot day and get hit in the face by a wall of hot air – as if I wasn't fully expecting that to happen.

And then I mutter it again as I slide into the hot seat and frantically push at the AC buttons.

Don't forget to make yourself sound particularly incredulous by making sure the stress falls heavily on the second syllable: “fa-CAL-do”.

If the heat is particularly oppressive, it might even become “fa caldissimo!” 

It's important to emphasise that,too, and here the stress falls on the third syllable: “fa-cal-DIII-ssi-mo!”

If that gets boring, you could switch things up a bit, and say che caldo! or che caldo fa!

Other useful Italian words for talking (complaining) about Italy's current weather conditions include canicola and addosso.

Do you have an Italian word you'd like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.



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