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Italian expression of the day: ‘Non ci piove’

You'll get the hang of this phrase quickly, that's for sure.

Italian expression of the day non ci piove
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

If an Italian tells you non ci piove, it doesn’t mean they’re advising you to leave your umbrella at home.

Literally, this phrase means ‘it doesn’t rain’. But today’s expression in reality has nothing to do with rain, or the lack of it.

It’s an idiom that you use to emphasise you’re certain about something, meaning something along the lines of ‘There’s no doubt’, ‘That’s for sure’, or ‘It goes without saying’.

Ti pago il taxi, non ci piove.
I’ll pay for your taxi, that goes without saying.

It’s sometimes preceded by a qui (here), as in, ‘here there’s no doubt’.

È molto meglio di com’era prima della ristrutturazione, qui non ci piove.
It’s much better than it was before the renovation, that’s for sure.

But is most often used with su (on) – ‘on this/this fact there’s no doubt’.

– Sto pensando di regalare a Leo un vecchio giradischi per il suo compleanno, credo che gli piacerebbe.
– Su questo non ci piove, ama ascoltare i dischi in vinile a casa mia.
– I’m thinking of giving Leo an old record player for his birthday, I think he’d like it.
– There’s no doubt he would, he loves listening to vinyl records at my house.

Sul fatto che ti hanno truffato non ci piove.
There’s no doubting the fact that they scammed you.

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What are the expression’s origins?

No one’s really sure, but some suggest it comes from the idea that your conviction is so solid that no rain could threaten to weaken it or wash it away – there’s ‘no shadow of a doubt’.

Reckon you can incorporate this simple phrase into you Italian vocabulary? We’re sure you can – non ci piove.

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

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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.