Sayings who have ancient origins (Part one)

Italianly | Learn Italian as you like
Test your Italian with these 5 tongue​ twisters
Agosto 14, 2019
Italianly | Learn Italian as you like
Sayings who have ancient origins (Part two)
Agosto 28, 2019
Italianly | Learn Italian as you like

In Italy, we use to repeat several times a day many sayings when we talk with family and friends. You cannot avoid learning them if you want to learn more about Italian culture and traditions.

Let’s see what are below:

Rimanere di Sale

Literally: “remain of salt” – It has the meaning of “being amazed, astounded by an event.” This expression originates from an episode of the Bible, that of Sodom and Gomorrah.

When God decided to destroy the two cities since sinners populated them. He sent two angels to Earth to tell Lot, Abraham’s nephew and good man, to escape.

However, he also warned him that he should never look back during the escape. Lot’s wife failed to give up the temptation to turn around and was punished by being turned into a salt statue.

Andare a Canossa

Literally: “Go to Canossa” – This expression has the meaning of: “humiliate, submit to an enemy, admit that you were wrong” and refers to the historical episode that is remembered as “the humiliation of Canossa.”

Around the year 1000, a political struggle was in progress between the power of the Church and the imperial authority headed by Henry IV. The conflict involved, among other things, the excommunication of the sovereign by Pope Gregory VII.

For having revoked the excommunication, Henry IV and his wife went in penance to Canossa where the Pope was a guest. The pontiff made his response wait for three long days, during which time Enrico remained to wait at the entrance of the castle.

“Andare a Canossa” has the meaning of admitting defeat and asking for forgiveness.

Alle Calende greche

Literally:”To the Greece calende” – It is a fairly common expression in Italian and is used to refer to a time that will never arrive, to indicate something that refers to a very distant, indeterminate future.

This saying goes back to the age of the ancient Romans. It seems that the emperor Augustus first pronounced it to refer to a payment he would never have made.

“Le calende”, in the Roman calendar, corresponded to the first day of each month. It was the day when all payments to settle debts were made.

However, in the Greek calendar “calende” did not exist, therefore “to the Greek calend” means a day that will never arrive.