There Are Signs Everywhere

These are signs that caught my eye over the past couple of years or so in Torino.  I took photos of some of them because I thought they were funny. Of course, except for the first one they aren’t supposed to be funny, but taken from an English-speaking “expat” perspective, they can be.

signs-1This sign is right inside the entrance of a pizzeria in Piazza Carlo Alberto. You know how establishments hang plaques or photos boasting of the famous people who patronized the place? This sign says: “ERNEST HEMINGWAY (1899-1961), WRITER, NEVER ENTERED THIS BAR”. Ha!

signs-2Sorry, but this advertisement for tours in Piemonte freaks me out. It says: “Grand Tour: Piemonte at your feet”.

signs-3Pay attention: bicycle, horse and cart, and (farm tool?) crossing.

(Anyone know what the last one is?)


“Sorry, we’re chiuso.” Heh hehsigns-5

Italian food


Ever wonder why the Italian post offices (known as Poste Italiane or more literally “post office”: ufficio postale) are marked by a “PT” sign?

(Usually the sign is just the part with the “PT” in a circle, but this looks like an old one.)

signs-7Not again… “Seeking staff with experience, max 35 years old”. I can’t help seeing something like this with my American eyes and hear my brain shouting “illegal!” Not here.


“The Drunk Octopus”


Play on words Prima – Dopo (Before – After) with the dentist office’s name.


These candies are too good for you.

By the way, confetti are sugar covered almond candies that people give out as party favors at weddings and baptisms. Confetti, the stuff you throw on New Year’s Eve, is coriandoli. My favorite confetti don’t have almonds inside and have different flavors like lemon and pistachio.



Yes! This cafe offers soy milk.


Is this kind of picture really necessary? I remember the first time I visited Italy in 2001 and saw a commercial on TV with a topless lady in a bubble bath throwing her arms up in joy over whatever product they selling.


2 Euros a pop

signs-15Choosato means “chosen” (past participle), and choosate means “you (plural) choose”. They are not real Italian words but nowadays people are taking English words and adding the Italian verb ending “-are”, so the infinitive would be choosare.*

Because English is cool. When they get it right. When they get it wrong, it’s funny (to native speakers). But no funnier than “one panini” or “one cannoli” on US menus sounds to an Italian. (Panini and cannoli are plural words. If you just want one, it’s panino or cannolo.)

*The real word for “to choose” is scegliere.


OK this isn’t a sign but it’s still food for thought (heh). You might know this pasta as “orzo”. In Italian it’s called risoni (literally “big rice”) and that’s what it looks like. Orzo means “barley”.


Sofia Loren and Totò just hanging out at the pizzeria.

signs-18   signs-21

“Butter – Eggs”. Stores went all-out back in the day.

I should take a picture of the cafe downtown with a fancy old Farmacia sign built into the stone wall above it.


Bear with me, this is my inner twelve-year-old making an appearance. They’re advertising a public transportation pass called a Pyou Card.


Horse meat

signs-24The twelve-year-old is coming out again. Superbum… would be better if these were toilet paper and not napkins.

Bum (pronounced “boom”) means “boom! bang!” like fireworks.




I love this word: Spaghetteria. Remember the SAT exam analogies? “Pizzeria is to pizza as spaghetteria is to spaghetti.” Or something like that. I don’t think that one was on the test.

Una spaghettata is a spaghetti dinner (or lunch).

(This one wasn’t shot in Torino.)


This is what un toast is in Italy. The ones on display are yet to be put in the sandwich press.

signs-28Fichi d’India are prickly pear fruit, also known as bastardoni (“big bastards”). Not a great name, but the fruit is really good, they come in surprise colors inside (you never know what you’re gonna get) and there is a secret method to peeling and eating them.


I never really “got” why mustaches are in, but whatever. This was a booth at the chocolate festival in Torino. Da leccarsi i baffi means something like “so good it will make your lick your lips”, except literally it says “so good it will make you lick your mustache”. See this post.


“My favorite color is chocolate.” Cute.

signs-31Frozen waffles have made it to Italy.


See you with the next installment when I’ve gathered enough new photos for a new post in a couple of years 😛

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4 Responses to There Are Signs Everywhere

  1. I love looking at these. Some of them are too funny! I thought the exact same thing the first time I saw the Pyou card 😀

  2. Anelo says:

    I’m a bit late with that, but “PT” means “Poste & Telegrafi” (“Mail & Telegraph”), a legacy of the time when telegrams were common.

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