The new Disney Pixar movie is stealing our hearts and it’s about a young adventurous boy named Luca Paguro.
This really touched my heart because the name LUCA has a deeper meaning to me.
What’s the meaning of LUCA?
LUCA is the Italian equivalent of the English name Luke. It comes from the Latin lux meaning light.
When I was 19, I had gone through a horrifying experience and I decided to take a break from college and sign up to learn Italian, instead.
I thought “Life is short and I might as well pursue my dreams!” Little did I know what other lessons I was about to learn about this…
In those times in which I felt mostly angry, broken, and hopeless, going to Italian class for two hours was the highlight of my day — the LIGHT!
Now, I have been to Europe and here I am, over 2 decades later and I have not yet traveled to Italy… LUCA has ignited that old dream!
Where Is LUCA based? Meaning of Portorosso
Like with every Pixar story, the filmmakers did extensive research to make it as authentic as possible.
The name of the fictional seaside town where LUCA takes place is named Portorosso.
I am going to guess it’s a nod to these lyrics from the Giacomo Puccini soprano aria “O mio babbino caro,” which plays at the beginning of the movie:
Vo‘ andare in Porta Rossa a comperar l’anello!
“Porta” means “door” and “Rossa” means “red” (feminine), while “porto” means “port” and “rosso” is the masculine version of “red.” So they changed “red door” to “red port” or “red harbor,” which goes perfectly with the story.
Speaking My Language: ITALIAN Language!
And as soon as the film starts, we are transported to Italy and everything I love about it. The scenery, the music, the language…
I was so giddy hearing Italian words and Italian phrases throughout the film!
Italian class was where I met my best friend, Carolina, too. For over 20 years, she’s been one of the most important people in my life!
I shared my LUCA movie review along with some of the most memorable quotes from the film and very interesting fun facts straight from my Disney friends.
Now let’s start our very own Italian lessons!
Italian Words from LUCA
Luca says Arrivederci! to bid everyone “Goodbye!”
Giulia says Impossibile! and I think you can already guess that it means “Impossible!”
Luca also used the Italian word Grazie! which means “Thank you!”
Giulia says Veloce! and it can mean “Quick!” or “Fast”
Luca says Aspetta!, which means “Wait!”
Alberto says Finito!, which can mean both “Finished!” or “Done”
Giulia says Basta!, which means “Enough!”
Alberto says Perfetto! and that means “Perfect!”
Giulia says Soldi and that means “Money.” I think this Italian word is popular, thanks to music and movies.
Alberto said Sì, which is the Italian word for “Yes”
Giulia says Ragazzi and it means “Boys” or “Guys”
Signora Marsigliese says Tutti and it means “Everyone”
Giulia says Vai!, which means “Go!” in the second person. In both Italian and Spanish, we conjugate each person differently.
Signora Marsigliese says Signori, which means “Gentlemen”
The Fishermen say Bambini, which means “children”
Signora Marsigliese Signore and that means “Ladies”
Fine means “The End”
Italian 101: Contractions and Expressions
Mamma mia! doesn’t mean “here we go again!” Just kidding! It’s an expression like “Oh my goodness!” and denotes surprise or worry, like in the case of Giulia in LUCA.
Luca says “Buongiorno!” and that means “Good day,” and it’s used to say “Good morning!”
When Giulia, Luca and Alberto say Buonanotte! and it’s used to say “Goodnight!”
Giulia says Ciao! and it means both “Hello!” and “Bye!”
Massimo says Mangiamo! and it’s three words in English “Let’s eat!” (Let us eat!)
Giulia says Forza! and it means “Force!” (think Star Wars!) but in this scene, it is used as motivation, like “Keep going!”
Giulia Luca and Alberto say Evviva! and it’s an Italian expression of cheering someone on and celebrating them, such as “Hoorray!” “Hurrah!,” or “Yipee.”
Giulia says Certo!, another word that turns into a two-word expression in English: “Of course!”
Massimo says Andiamo!, another single word in Italian which translates to: “Let’s go!” (Let us go!)
Guido says Ciccio and it’s used to say “Chubby” (In my country we anybody fat call “Chicho” and it’s pronounced the same way).
Ercole says Scusa! and it’s used in LUCA to mean “Sorry!” or “Excuse me,” in a colloquial way, but it also translates into the word “excuse.”
Giulia says Vabbè and it’s a contraction of “va” and “bene,” which means “all is well,” but in this instance, it’s more like “Oh well.”
Giulia says Piacere!, which in this case means “Nice to meet you!” More on this below!
A Bit of Italian Grammar
Giulia says Bravo! / Bravi! (plural) and that can be translated to “Great job!” but it’s more like how the French use “Magnifique!”
Alberto says Benissimo!, and that means “Very good!” You could also say “Molto Bene,” because “molto” is the literal translation for “very,” but in the Italian language, when an adjective ends in “issimo,” or “issima,” we simply add “Very” in English.
For example, Bravo (masculine) will turn to bravissimo and brava (feminine) turns into bravissima. The plural would be bravissimi for the masculine and bravissime for the feminine. This same rule exists in my native language: Spanish, with “ísimo” or “ísima” “ísimos” and “ísimas.”
So here’s the shortcut: when a word ends in A, it is feminine, and in its plural version the A turns to E, and when a word ends in O, it is in the masculine, and the O turns to I in its plural form.
Let’s say an example with the word beautiful:
Woman or girl: Bella, Bellissima
More than one woman or girl: Belle, Bellissime
Man or boy: Bello, Bellissimo
More than one man or boy: Belli, Bellissimi
Got it? Good!
Ercole says Piccoletto and it’s used to say “Little one”(Same as Piccolino).
Adding “etto” or “ino” makes something “little” in Italian. In Spanish, the same happens with adding “ito” or “ita” after. the root of the word.
The root word here is Piccolo, which means “little, small, young.” The same rules apply for the feminine and the plural, so we could have Piccolino, Piccolina, Piccolini, and Piccoline!
Italian Phrases from LUCA
Giulia exclaims Per favore meaning “Please”
Ercole A casa! means “Go home!” ~
Cos’è? means “What is it?” ~ Alberto
Mi dispiace means “I’m sorry” ~ Massimo
Pronti, partenza, via! means “Ready, set, go!” ~ Giulia
A presto! means “See you soon!” ~ Giulia
Ma che fai? means “What are you doing?” ~ Alberto
Benvenuti a Portorosso! means “Welcome to Portorosso!” ~ Ercole
Ma sei matta? means “Are you crazy?” ~ Alberto
Mean Italian Phrases from LUCA
The messages of acceptance and inclusion in LUCA are taught by opposition.
We learn some words that are either insults or meant as insults in the film and – spoiler alert – they are said by the same person: the town bully, Ercole!
Mannaggia! means “Darn it!”
Mostri marini means “Sea monsters”
Imbecille means “Imbecile”
Pescheria means “Fishmonger”
Ma sei scemo? means “Are you stupid?“
Che puzza! means “What a smell!”
Stupido! means “Stupid!“
Idioti means “Idiots.“
Siete un disastro means “You’re all a disaster.”
Made Up Italian Phrases from LUCA
Now let’s chat about the made up Italian phrases in LUCA. These all added a bit of dramatic expression to the film and I absolutely loved it.
If you actually know what it means, it sounds quite ridiculous and funny, but I know that made up expressions make language and culture more interesting and fun.
These are the made up Italian phrases I caught in LUCA:
*Per mille sardine! means “For a thousand sardines!” in the literal sense ~ Luca
Porca paletta! means “Pork shovel!” if we translate it literally ~ Giulia
*Santa mozzarella! means “Saint mozzarella!” literally. ~ Giulia
*Santo pecorino! means something like “Saint pecorino cheese!” ~ Giulia
*Santa ricotta! means “Saint ricotta cheese!” if you can imagine it ~ Giulia
*Santo gorgonzola! means lit. “Saint gorgonzola cheese!” ~ Giulia
I was raised Catholic and I love this so much because to this day, I still invoke any Saint’s name that comes to mind when something somewhat extraordinary happens (whether it’s perceived good or bad at the moment. You could say that we call on God, Mary, or the Saints instead of saying profanity or swearing.
There are two made up phrases that get honorable mentions. The first one:
Piacere Girolamo Trombetta
Piacere, Girolamo Trombetta is a phrase that Alberto says in the most important scenes in LUCA.
We already covered “Piacere,” which is the word for “Pleasure,” and in Italy it is used as “Pleased to meet you.”
So what he’s doing is repeating something that he’s heard someone else say; something he does throughout the film. We can assume that a man named Girolamo Trombetta introduced himself to someone and was very happy to meet them.
However, LUCA director Enrico Casarosa tweeted about this phrase in response to a fan who was wondering what it meant, and there’s a special meaning behind it:
Those little personal details make a fictional story better. Won’t you agree?
And if you think about it, the handshake that goes along with it is done by twisting the hand and making a trumpet sign.
While “Trombetta” does mean “toy trumpet,” Girolamo doesn’t mean “twisty” – it’s actually the equivalent of the name “Jerome” in English.
However, “Girolamo” can be a contracted variation of “Giro la mano,” which means “I twist my hand.”
What a fun way to learn Italian!
Lastly, our special Italian phrase from LUCA:
When Alberto and LUCA say “Silenzio Bruno!” they are using it to silence their inner bully, to quiet the inner critic, to shush their negative thoughts.
“Silenzio, Bruno!” is the most meaningful out of all the Italian phrases from LUCA, because it is a very positive teaching for our kids.
Of course, the boys called their critical inner voice “Bruno,” but each of us can use any name that resonates with us and then just say “Silenzio!,” which means “silence!” or “quiet!” or “shush!“… You get my drift!
As you can see, I am IN LOVE with LUCA. We have watched it several times, including in Italian and in Spanish. Watching movies in another language (with subtitles in that language )is a great way to help your kids learn another language!
What Italian words and Italian Phrases from LUCA are your favorites? Share yours with us in the comment section below.
Arrivederci amore…. Goodbye love!
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM
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