Hidden treasures

'Buho pillonzi', all of Tuscany’s irreverence in a witty expression

Figures of speech
Buho_Pillonzi

'Buho pillonzi', all of Tuscany’s irreverence in a witty expression

People who speak Tuscan dialect are known for aspirating their c’s. But this isn’t the only peculiarity and, as a matter of fact, we’re quite fed up with hearing the mocking phrase 'la hola hola ‘on hannuccia horta’! The truth is that the real strength of our vernacular language lies in its touch of color, in the friendly irreverence that best sums up the witty Tuscan spirit. Let me give you an example: the expression 'a buco pillonzi'. Have you ever heard it? Do you know what it means? No? To find out, have some patience and listen to the story of the birth of this funny expression.

Let’s move to Vinci, the land of Leonardo, at the time when there were no washing machines and clothes were washed by hand. In this area the operation took place in some large washbasins about one meter above the ground called 'pilloni'. In order to reach the water, women had to lean forward and place themselves in an uncomfortable and not quite elegant position. Moreover, in order to rub the clothes, they were forced to shake their bodies.

In short... you can probably visualise why it was an interesting position! As a Tuscan would say, they were ‘a culo ritto’, or even more vulgarly, ‘a buco ritto’. If men happened to be behind them, they would always enjoy the view before them and have fun sharing vulgar comments. It seems that the combination of the truly vulgar expression 'a buco ritto’ with the name of the laundries in ‘pillonzi’ created the saying ‘buo pillonzi’. Once again, the letter ‘c’ disappears because Tuscans aspire it. Is this expression still used today in Tuscany? Indeed, it is. Nowadays, in addition to designating the physical position of being bent forward, it has also taken on a metaphorical meaning of easy intuition. Being ‘a buo pillonzi’, in this sense, means being in a risky position where you are about to get scammed.

Did this make you want to have a 'full immersion' in the Tuscan dialect? Do you want to listen with your own ears what it sounds like? So, why not book one of our Food and Wine Tours, we are sure that you will find a Tuscan bread and born among the cellars! Plus... after a few glasses of wine, of the good sort, we can assure you that by magic you will also begin to speak some Tuscan. Seeing is believing!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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