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Ten phrases to talk about cold and wet weather like a true Italian

Although Italy is known for being balmy and bright, Italians have plenty of expressions and proverbs to refer to cold and rainy weather. Here are ten phrases you can throw into conversation in these chilly days.

Fa un freddo cane.
Fa un freddo cane. Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

The weather in Italy has taken a turn for the colder and wetter, with storms and high winds sweeping through the country.

As autumn turns into winter, the mercury is set to drop even further, setting teeth chattering and extremities tingling.

Of course, the temperature difference is markedly different between the northern alpine regions and the much milder southern regions.

READ ALSO: From beer to hairdryers: 10 Italian words that come from German

Still, Italians from all corners of the peninsula share a love of talking about how cold and wet it is, so if you’re an Italian language learner who wants to impress with your command of cold-themed lingo, we’ve got you covered.

Che Freddo GIF - Che Freddo Coperta Cold GIFs

Fa un freddo cane

When the cold is really biting, simply saying fa freddo (it’s cold) doesn’t go far enough. Fa un freddo cane is an idiomatic phrase used in spoken Italian on those freezing cold days. It means, “It’s freezing cold!”

The phrase literally translates as, “It makes a cold dog”, which doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. But it means something more like “it’s dog cold!”

Dogs don’t have much to do with the phrase in reality, much like with the English phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs”. It’s just a (polite) way of emphasising how awfully cold it is. For more language tips on this phrase, see here.

Ho il naso gelato

“Sono stanco e ho fame, ho la coda gelata, e il naso gelato, e le orecchie gelate, e i piedi gelati”.

This adorable quote from one of the puppies in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians pretty much sums up winter. Everything is cold and frozen.

As the family of dogs made their way through freezing snow drifts to escape the evil clutches of Cruella de Vil, one of the exhausted little fellas said, “I’m tired and I’m hungry, my tail is froze, and my nose is froze, and my ears are froze, and my feet are froze”.

READ ALSO: 10 of the most common Italian translation fails

Of course, it should be frozen in English but he’s only little for getting past participles right.

Although you’ll likely best know gelato as a staple of Italian food, in winter you’ll probably have an ‘ice cream nose’ at some point. It really means you have a frozen nose, as gelato simply means ‘frozen’ from the verb to freeze, ‘gelare’.

Che freddo, ho i brividi!

When you want to express how chilly the weather is making you feel, you might want to convey that it really is so cold that you’re shivering.

So you could say through chattering teeth, ‘Che freddo, ho i brividi!’ to mean, ‘It’s so cold! I’ve got the shivers!’

Ho la pelle d’oca

Another way of saying that you’re suffering from the freezing temperature is to compare your skin to that of a goose’s.

In English you’d say, ‘I’ve got goosebumps’, whereas the Italian equivalent is close: ‘Ho la pelle d’oca’ means ‘I’ve got goose skin’.

Cielo a pecorelle acqua a catinelle

If you really want to show off your language chops, try throwing this Italian proverb into conversation. It literally means, “Sky in sheep’s clothing, water in buckets” and is the great classic of Italian weather proverbs.

Not only does it give a clear picture of the impending rain shower, it also has a solid scientific basis.

READ ALSO: 12 of the most useful Italian words you need to know

Those small clouds similar to lots of little cotton balls – that look like a flock of sheep – are cirrocumulus clouds found between six and seven thousand metres above sea level. They indicate the presence of cold and unstable air at that altitude, often signalling the arrival of a humid warm front accompanied by possible thunderstorms or showers.

So, the next time you see this cloud formation in the sky, you can say ‘Cielo a pecorelle acqua a catinelle!’ and therefore both sagely predict the weather and impress people with your Italian at the same time.

Viene giù che Dio la manda

“It’s raining and God is sending it”, was the custom, blaming God for the bad weather. Blasphemy is a delicate topic in Italy, a country that is overwhelmingly Catholic, but you’ll notice that a lot of Italian phrases curse God or Mary (Madonna).

If you really want to emphasise how much it’s raining, this phrase will express it well – just be careful who you say it to.

Piove di brutto

Perhaps you want to say more than it’s just simply raining. The heavens are opening and it’s bucketing down, it’s definitely not a little drizzle. 

Commenting ‘piove’ doesn’t quite cut it in this case. Adding on ‘di brutto’ makes it clear that it’s raining ‘badly’. You can use ‘di brutto’ in a lot of contexts to emphasise your point, just as in English you might say you want something badly. It isn’t always necessarily negative, rather that it magnifies and adds weight to your point.

Rain Rainy Day GIF - Rain Rainy Day Miss You GIFs

READ ALSO: 19 of your favourite Italian words (and some of ours)

Piove a dirotto

The expression ‘piove a dirotto’ is used to describe an abundant, copious amount of rain. The origin of the term is believed to be linked to the etymology of the adjective ‘dirotto’, which means ‘broken’.

So it provides the imagery of rain breaking into several parts, a heavy rainstorm therefore, like a river bursting its banks.

Si muore di freddo

It’s so cold that you can’t feel your fingers or your toes and all you can do is imagine getting somewhere warm and cosy before you turn into a complete ice block.

‘Si muore di freddo’ gives the really rather serious impression that it’s so cold, you’ll die because of it – equivalent to the English ‘I’m dying of cold’.

Piove sul bagnato

If it’s so wet that you just can’t get any wetter, this phrase will come in handy. ‘Piove sul bagnato’ means it’s raining on the wet.

Handy for those days when you wonder if you’ll ever see the blue sky again.

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8 phrases you need for getting romantic in Italian

With Valentine’s day just around the corner, here are some essential phrases to help you woo your Italian lover.

8 phrases you need for getting romantic in Italian

1. Mi piaci

Let’s start at the more casual end of the romance spectrum and work our way up from there.

Mi piaci simply means ‘I like you’ – while it’s often non-romantic, it can definitely also mean ‘I fancy you’. Instead of ‘like’ though, Italian uses the verb ‘please’ and inverts the subject and object, so in purely grammatical terms the literal English translation of this expression is more like ‘you please me’. 

READ ALSO: 11 of the most romantic places in Italy to escape the crowds

Don’t let this reversal trip you up: this means ti piaccio doesn’t mean ‘I like you’, but ‘you like me’ (literally, ‘I please you’) which would be a pretty presumptuous thing to say to your crush.

2. Mi sono preso/a una cotta per te

Speaking of crushes, there’s an easy way to tell someone they’re yours: mi sono preso/a una cotta per te means ‘I’ve got a crush on you’ (the o/a past participle ending changes depending on whether the person speaking is a man or a woman).

To simplify things a bit, you can just say sono cotto/a per te, turning cotta from a noun into an adjective.

READ ALSO: Five ways to have the perfect romantic weekend in Rome

And if you really want to ramp things up a notch, you can say sono innamorato/a cotto/a di te – I’m mad about you.

3. Sono pazzo/a di te

If you are mad about someone, you can tell them exactly that. Sono pazzo/a di te – ‘I’m mad about you’ – is one phrase that directly translates between Italian and English. Just like in English, in other contexts pazzo literally means ‘crazy/mad’.

A couple kiss as they enjoy a private beach in Fregene, northwest of Rome.

A couple kiss as they enjoy a private beach in Fregene, northwest of Rome. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP.

4. Mi sono innamorato/a di te

When you’re telling someone you love them, sometimes it’s best to be direct about it.

Mi sono innamorato/a di te means ‘I’ve fallen in love with you’/ ‘I’ve fallen for you’; if you want to take things even more back to basics, you can go with a simple ti amo – ‘I love you’.

READ ALSO: Three stories of finding love in Italy that will restore your faith in romance

One phrase you want to avoid is ti voglio bene. You may have heard that this means ‘I love you’ in Italian: it does, but only in a platonic/familial sense. If someone says this to you, it means they love you as a friend, but nothing more.

5. Colpo di fulmine

Literally a ‘lightning bolt/strike’, a colpo di fulmine is the Italian way to talk about love at first sight: it’s as though you were struck by lightning, and haven’t been the same since.

This phrase obviously needs to be used in combination with other words – you might say la prima volta che ti ho visto è stato un colpo di fulmine (‘the first time I saw you it was love at first sight’).

READ ALSO: Did Valentine’s Day really originate in Italy?

A less poetic alternative is amore al primo sguardo/amore a prima vista, which translates directly as ‘love at first sight’.

 Ti amo is the simplest way to tell someone you love them in Italian. Photo by MICHAL CIZEK / AFP.

6. Sei la mia anima gemella

Buckle up, because we’re really heading into intense territory now. A soulmate in Italian is an anima gemella – literally, a ‘twin soul’.

You’ll want to make sure you’re deeply in love – or at least a couple of glasses deep into your Sangiovese – before telling your love interest sei la mia anima gemella: ‘you are my soulmate’.

7. Siamo fatti l’uno per l’altra

Really want to turn on the cheese? You could say siamo fatti l’uno per l’altra – an almost direct translation of ‘we’re made for each other’.

That’s if you’re a woman talking to a man or vice versa – if you’re a man talking to a man, you can say siamo fatti l’uno per l’altro (confusingly, this formula can also be used in a man <–> woman context); for a woman talking to a woman, you’d say siamo fatte l’una per l’altra.

8. Mi sono perso nei tuoi occhi

You’ll want to know your audience here: for some this expression might represent the height of Mediterranean romance, while for others, it’s really going to up the ick factor.

Mi sono perso/a nei tuoi occhi is ‘I’m lost/ I got lost in your eyes’. A pick up line version is mi serve una mappa, mi sono perso nei tuoi occhi (‘I need a map, I’ve got lost in your eyes’), but you’ve got more dignity than that.

The phrase has inspired at least one Italian love song:

Enjoy using these expressions with your Valentine’s – and if you’re not currently with anyone, know that your time is coming: Italy makes up for having a day dedicated entirely to couples by making February 15th, La Festa di San Faustino, a celebration of singleness.

READ ALSO: San Faustino: Why February 15th is ‘Singles’ Day’ in Italy