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By Claudia Quesito

Italian has a number of expressions and sayings based on colors. To start, farne di tutti i colori (literally, to do [something of] any/all kind of colors) means to be up to all sorts of mischief. Dirne di tutti i colori translates as “to let loose on somebody,” and vederne di tutti i colori means to see, experience, or witness any/all kind of things.

As for specific shades, the classic black and white are not very lucky, as they tend to be associated with not-so-good-things: Vedere nero means to see everything in a negative light; essere di umore nero means to be in a very bad mood. 

In the same vein, passare la notte in bianco, (literally, to spend the night in white) means to spend a sleepless night; mangiare in bianco means to eat plain, bland food; and sbiancare—or essere biancodalla paura means to go pale from fear. 

Let’s see if brighter colors have better luck: Diventare rosso come un peperone (to turn red like a bell pepper) means to be ashamed, to distinctly blush; avere il sangue blu (to have blue blood) means to be of noble descent; if you sei al verde, it means that you’re broke and your bank account is probably in rosso (meaning, with a negative standing balance) and your settimana bianca (white week—that is, a skiing vacation) is probably to be postponed. 

While you are home, you might enjoy reading some giallo (a crime book), or some cronaca rosa (gossip news) on your favorite magazine; or, if you have pollice verde, you might just water your plants.

Many Italians have a soft spot for the color azzurro, as Azzurri is the nickname of several Italian national teams, soccer players included. Even Prince Charming—il principe Azzurro—is of this same color. 

To practice colors in a fun way, you might search for songs like Il cielo è sempre più blu by Rino Gaetano, Acqua azzurra acqua chiara from Lucio Battisti, or a truly popular song that virtually every Italian can hum: Azzurro, from Adriano Celentano. Yes, Italians definitely have a soft spot for blue in all its shades. 

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