Senza lilleri non si lallera!Figures of speech
Senza lilleri non si lallera!
If you have already read other anecdotes on Tuscan expressions, you have probably understood by now that in the land of Dante there is no real dialect, but rather a pretty colorful collection of more or less ‘harsh’ expressions. Let's learn a new one, so that when you take a trip to Florence – or even to Siena and Pistoia - you can make a great impression on the locals. Let's say that during your Tuscan holiday, whilst you were asking for the price of something, you made it clear to the person you were dealing with that you have no intention of spending that amount of money. It could be for an excellent Chianti wine bottle, for a carriage ride or for a special evening in a small place along the river. If you find yourself talking to a proper Tuscan, a Tuscan bred and born, he’ll reply with the sagacity and slight malice that distinguishes them: ‘Senza lilleri non si lallera!'. This means that with no money you can’t go far, especially if you want to have fun. Those of you who know a bit of French could find a similarity with 'c'est l'argent qui fait la guerre' – an unsurprising similarity, given that the money-fun combo is a universal concept. Both in time and in space.
But where do these funny terms 'lilleri' and 'lallera' come from? Lilleri could refer to 'tilleri', a word for money which comes from 'tallero', a silver coin used in the past. And what about lallera? Here we’re back in the territory of slightly vulgar Tuscan expressions. 'Lallera', as taught by the great Florentine storyteller Riccardo Marasco, is an alternative and popular way to designate a specific female body part. Get it? Yes, like we say in English: 'No money, no honey'. But nowadays, the expression ‘senza lilleri non si lallera’ refers to good life in general more than to passionate pleasure. So you can use it without being afraid of being too rude.
Are you revising your Tuscan speaking skills? Leave the theory aside and get ready for a full immersion in the field! But where? Well, you could start with some of our tours of the Villages of Tuscany. We’re sure that in one of the delightful villages you’ll find some 'mother tongue' speaker that will help you improve your language skills! Are you thinking about the cost of the tours?... well you went looking for it really! Remember, ‘senza lilleri non si lallera’!
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