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Cencio, granata and cannella: the vocabulary of the Florentine housewife

Figures of speech

Cencio, granata and cannella: the vocabulary of the Florentine housewife

Here we are, once again, to teach you a beautiful Tuscan lesson. This time we will focus on words that housewives in Florence use practically every day. For example, they call mopping the floor 'dare il cencio'! Where does this expression come from? It seems to come from the Latin 'cento, centonis', a term that indicated a blanket or a cloth.

And do not be afraid if you happen to hear some Florentine housewife say: 'prendo una granata'! Granata in Florence is just a broom, not a bomb, so don’t run away! It seems to derive from the fact that brooms used to be made of corn with berries or 'grani' still attached to them. From grani to granata it’s a short step!

And do you know what Florentines mean, but also other people from Pistoia and Prato, when they say they have to 'rigovernare'? They are just saying that they have to do the washing-up. Here the etymology is slightly more articulated: the origin of the term goes back to the Latin 'gubernare' which, similarly to the Italian verb ‘governare’, means to command or to manage. From the act of running and governing a household, the meaning was probably later transferred to the idea of washing the dishes. Whatever the result of this linguistic dissertation, there is no doubt that in Tuscany the dishes are not washed but governed!

And now for the cherry on the cake. Let's see how prepared you are: what will they offer you if they give you a glass of water with 'annella' (cinnamon)? If you think it’s water flavored with the typical Christmas spice you’re not close yet! In almost all of Tuscany, in fact, water taps are called ‘cannella’! Its origin is easy to understand: it is a diminutive of 'canna', which means pipe.

Did you like this lesson? This was only the theory though. Now you have to go to Tuscany for a nice 'full immersion'. After all, that’s how languages are best learnt. We recommend a nice study holiday in Florence! You will see how listening to the Florentines but above all thanks to steaks, Chianti and ‘finocchionas’ your pronunciation improves. Even more if you book one of our tours in Chianti! Try it and when you come back... be ready for a test!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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