Fried eggs and sweaty underpants: 10 phrases for complaining about the heat like an Italian

The scorching temperatures that Italy usually gets during the summer months mean Italians are well practised when it comes to complaining about the heat. Here are a few phrases to try if you want to join in.

Fried eggs and sweaty underpants: 10 phrases for complaining about the heat like an Italian
It's dog hot. Photo: Justaf Abduh on Unsplash

Fa caldo! – It’s hot! This is the phrase you’ll likely hear the most when Italians discuss the weather and your easiest go-to if you want to say that it is, in fact, very hot.

Che calura! – What heat! If it’s one of those intense, hot and heavy days, maybe what you’d describe as a sultry or muggy heat, this is the ideal phrase to whip out. It may be used to describe a day in which there’s a hot-humid air known as ‘Afa‘.

READ ALSO: Four to five light meals a day’: Italy’s official advice during a heatwave

Un caldo della Madonna! – A heat of the Madonna! Where in English, you might use religious figures to express how hot you are, like ‘Jesus, it’s hot!’, in Italian you refer to the Virgin Mary to say it’s scorching. If you hear this phrase, the person wants to emphasise it’s really, really hot.

Yes, it’s blasphemy in a Catholic country, but you’ll hear Italians say it a lot anyway.

Un caldo bestiale! – A brutal heat! When the sun is beating down on you and it feels deadly, this is the appropriate phrase for your word-bank. ‘Bestiale‘ can be translated as brutal, savage, terrible and most obviously, beastly.

When there’s just no respite from the sun’s rays, you’d be right to say, ‘Fa un caldo bestiale!‘ as you mop your brow.

Photo: Josh Rakower on Unsplash

Fa un caldo cane! – It’s dog hot! Dogs are used for emphasis in both Italian and English. You might say ‘I’m dog tired’ to emphasise how worn out you are in English, but man’s best friend is evoked to emphasise how hot it is in Italian.

And not just warm, but absolutely sweltering. So it’s not got anything to do with dogs per se, but instead is a polite way of saying you’re really very hot. They use the same idiomatic expression when it’s cold too –  ‘fa un freddo cane‘ means it’s freezing cold, or ‘it’s dog cold!’.

Heatwave: Which parts of Italy will be hottest this week?

Mi sudano le mutande! – My underpants are sweating! This one paints a probably too vivid picture. It’s so hot that even your smalls are sweating. It might not be the most polite phrase to use with people you’ve just met and are passing the time of day with. But if you’re on closer terms, it might raise a smile if you reply with this phrase when someone casually says, ‘It’s hot today, isn’t it?’. ‘Fa caldo oggi, no?’. ‘Caldo? Mi sudano le mutande!‘.

Photo: Rob Finney/Flickr

Sto facendo la schiuma! – I’m foaming! Another visually-laden phrase, which means it’s so hot that you’re foaming up, just like a frothy cappuccino. It’s not nearly as tasty as a breakfast coffee though, as this saying conjures up images of your body whipping up your sweaty bits into a foam. Delicious.

Si cuoce dal caldo/sto cuocendo! – You cook in the heat/I’m cooking! Just like a sausage on a grill, that’s how Italian summers can make you feel. If you want to really give some oomph to your comment about the heat, this saying compares temperatures with oven-like heat.

READ ALSO: Temperatures up to 40 degrees and ‘violent’ storms forecast across Italy this weekend

I’m cooking! In Italian you can say this to mean you are terribly hot. Photo: Kirsty TG/Unsplash

Mi sto arrostendo sotto il sole! – I’m roasting in the sun! More cooking imagery to describe unbearable heat. If you feel like a roast chicken on a spit, this one is the ideal phrase to add some extra flavour to your conversations about the weather.

Si può friggere un uovo sul cofano della macchina!You could fry an egg on the bonnet of a car! As temperatures soar, this phrase really shows just how high the mercury is rising.

You might say you could fry an egg on the pavement in English, which you might also hear in Italian – ‘si può friggere un uovo sul marciapiede‘.

Member comments

  1. My favorite idiom is: Sto a fa’ la colla. The literal translation is: I’m making glue. The figurative translation is: It’s so hot.

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Five tips that make it easier to learn Italian

Learning Italian can be tricky to begin with, but there are ways to help smooth the path to proficiency.

Five tips that make it easier to learn Italian

The journey to fluency in Italian can sometimes feels like it’s all uphill. Here are some tips for making things a little easier.

1. Practice speaking Italian as soon as you can

Speaking in Italian can feel daunting when you’re a beginner, but the best strategy is to throw yourself in at the deep end and not worry too much about making mistakes, as this is one of the quickest ways to get comfortable with the language.

  • If you live or work with someone who speaks fluent Italian, try to switch the conversation to Italian just for a few minutes a day to start with.
  • Set up a regular language exchange with a native Italian speaker. In Italy you’re likely to find plenty of Italians keen to practice their English and willing to correct your Italian in exchange. If you’re somewhere more remote, you can arrange online sessions through platforms like Tandem.
  • Look for places that hold language events, such as cafes or the weekly gatherings such as those held by the Koiné – Italian Language Centre in Rome where you can chat to other people learning Italian.
  • Join conversation groups through the Meetup app.
  • Look up ‘fare volontariato’ along with the name of your town to find volunteer opportunities in your area, where you will get to practice your Italian.

2. Language schools

There are a plethora of private language schools in Italy for foreign students wanting to learn Italian, with a wide range of prices and time commitment levels to choose from.

You may also be eligible for a free or heavily state-subsidised course at your local CPIA (Centro provinciale per l’istruzione degli adulti, or adult education centre). While most often most widely attended asylum seekers and refugees, in theory all foreign nationals over the age of 16 with a valid residency permit have access to these language programmes.

The advantage of language school is that it gives you a structure to your learning, and gives you skills in the four areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening, as well as learning about Italian culture. The class times are often flexible and you can choose between online and classroom lessons.

The downside is that with large class sizes, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to practice speaking, which is why supplementing language school with speaking opportunities can really help.

3. Italian media

Watching Italian TV with subtitles is always helpful. If you don’t have a TV, you can watch some Italian channels online, including programmes by national broadcaster Rai.

On Netflix there are popular Italian series including Zero, Baby, and Suburra: Blood on Rome.  

Italy’s podcast industry is currently growing rapidly, with new programmes popping up all the time – you can find a list of some of the best podcasts to get you started here.

READ ALSO: Some of the best podcasts for learners of Italian

Listening to Italy songs can help with pronunciation. The famous song Con te partirò, with its slow tempo, is a good one to get started with. Here are some other songs that can help you learn Italian.

4. Graphic novels and books

When you first arrive, reading children’s books out aloud can help you learn how to make your mouth form those tricky words, as well as give you confidence when you can read and understand the whole of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Il piccolo bruco maisazio) in Italian.

If you want something more targeted towards adults, books which have the Italian one page accompanied by an English translation on other, like Jhumpa Lahiri’s In altre parole/In Other Words, are a good option as they allow you to easily and quickly check the meaning of words or phrases you don’t know.

Graphic novels by popular Italian writers and cartoonists like Zerocalcare and Gipi are also a great way in to the language, as you’ll learn more colloquial Italian while having pictures to tell you what’s going on.

You can borrow books from your local library or buy them from second hand shops and mercatini (markets), as well as at bookstores like Feltrinelli.

5. Creating new daily habits

Forming small but regular new habits will keep up your language learning without it feeling too overwhelming.

  • For example, keep a little notebook or a place on your phone where you can write down new words you come across in your daily life. During the week, while on the bus or waiting to meet a friend, keep looking at those words to get them stuck in your head.
  • When you’re caught off guard in situations, such as someone asking in a shop, “Posso aiutarla?” (‘can I help you?’), and you automatically blurt out English, don’t feel too disheartened. Instead, write the scenario down, find out the different ways to respond, and memorise them, so that next time it automatically comes out. “Sto solo guardando, grazie” (‘I’m just looking, thank you’) is always a useful one.
  • Add some Italian accounts to your social media so when you scroll, you’re seeing and hearing Italian. Italian news sites are a good place to start, then seek out the profiles of Italians who specialise in the kinds of things that naturally interest you, whether that’s cooking, fashion, football or something else.
  • Listen to Italian podcasts or audiobooks on your way to work or when doing the washing up, whether it’s about a topic you’re interested in, or a specific language learning podcast like ‘Coffee Break Italian’.
  • Plan out what you’re going to say in a new situation before you say it and commit to it in Italian, for example booking an appointment, ordering food, speaking to your neighbour or language teacher.

Italian language learning can be a slow process but keep going, take the small wins and one day, we promise, you will be understood. 

Find more articles on learning the Italian language here.