Even if you’re a full-on dog person, I think you can appreciate the roles and references of cats in Italian culture and language. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you’re going to see them gattonare (crawling) around Italy.
For starters, cats were highly regarded in Ancient Rome and seen as symbols of independence and freedom, and they were the only animals permitted in Roman Temples. If you ever gone sightseeing in Rome or just taken a bus anywhere in the historic city center, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the famous cat sanctuary in Torre Argentina (where Julius Caesar was murdered). Cats like archeological sites because they are large quiet spaces protected from the public and offer crevices and hollows for shelter.
Whether or not you celebrate Rome as the “City of Cats”, here are some charming feline expressions you can add to your Italian lifestyle:
Una torta da leccarsi i baffi
Translation: A cake for licking your whiskers (baffi can be whiskers or mustache…)
Meaning: A mouth-watering cake. This expression can be used for any food.
Essere una gatta morta
Translation: Being a dead cat
Meaning: Playing dumb, pretending to be nice for an advantage
Il gatto che si morde la coda
Translation: The cat who bites its tail
Meaning: A vicious cycle, running around in circles
I gatti hanno sette spiriti
Translation: Cats have seven spirits
Meaning: Cats have nine lives... in English but only 7 in Italian!
And finally, La gatta frettolosa fa I gattini ciechi
Translation: The hurried cat produces blind kittens
Meaning: Haste makes waste
This last one resonates with my approach to teaching. I know learning Italian is difficult and I’ll never market an “Italian made easy” course, I don’t believe such a thing exists. Immerse Italy helps you learn Italian through your lifestyle and life events. My lessons are high-quality, memorable and thorough. To make an analogy: think of making Ragù alla bolognese with organic ingredients carefully chopped and slowing simmering. That’s going to taste so much better than whatever comes out of a can of Prego! Let's start the journey today, sign up for classes at www.immerseitaly.com