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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian expression of the day: ‘Andrà tutto bene’

The reassuring phrase everyone in Italy is using today.

Italian expression of the day: 'Andrà tutto bene'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

As Italy adjusts to life under emergency quarantine measures, there's a feeling of calm and solidarity between people around the country which is best summed up by this Italian phrase.

Pictures bearing the slogan andrà tutto bene – everything will be alright – are all over Italian social media today as people seek to reassure each other and brighten up days spent at home under quarantine.

It's roughly equivalent to the encouraging Cantonese phrase jiayou, meaning “don’t give up” or “hang on in there”, which has become a slogan seen on streets across China since the outbreak first began there.

Italian parents began sharing images on social media today of artwork created by their children – all off school at the moment until April 3 – bearing the hopeful message.

The idea was quickly picked up by others, and soon the slogan was seen all over social media alongside the hashtag #iorestoacasa (“I'm staying at home.”)

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian expression of the day: ‘Farla franca’

You won't get away with neglecting to learn this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Farla franca'

If you like Italian detective or murder mystery novels, sooner or later you’re bound to encounter the phrase farla franca: to get away with something.

Con Poirot alle calcagna, l’assassino non riuscirà mai a farla franca.
With Poirot on the scent, the killer will never get away with it.

Pensavi davvero di potermi derubare e farla franca?
You really thought you could steal from me and get away with it?

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According to the Treccani dictionary, the expression comes from the bureaucratic use of the adjective franco to mean ‘free’, describing either people that are exempt from carrying out their duties (like off-duty naval officers) or goods that are exempt from tariffs and duties.

One of the first recorded uses of farla franca as a phrase comes from the early 14th century.

The Florentine historian Giovanni Villani wrote that in June 1322, the city of Florence celebrated the Feast of San Giovanni with a big fair, ‘la quale feciono franca‘ for non-citizens – in other words, foreign merchants who came didn’t have to pay the usual taxes.

By the mid-1800s, the expression to mean escaping from some illicit act or risky endeavour without having to pay a penalty. In English (if you were being old-fashioned) you might talk in the same way about someone ‘getting off scot free’.

The la in farla franca is the part of the phrase that stands in for the ‘it’. It doesn’t necessarily have to be attached to fare but can go somewhere else, as long as it’s there.

Non possiamo permettere che la faccia franca.
We can’t let him get away with this.

Pensa di poterla fare franca.
She thinks she can get away with it.

With this phrase now in your repertoire, there’s no telling what you’ll get away with.

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

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