From doors being carelessly left open to requests for unreasonably expensive items, there are countless things that are guaranteed to upset an Italian dad.
And whatever the misdeed, they’ll have a snarky remark suited for the occasion.
Here are just seven of the favourite set phrases you’re likely to hear an Italian dad come out with.
Ma ti sembro Onassis?
Usually uttered after a request to buy something indecently pricey, “Do I look like Onassis to you?” is one of the best comebacks in the Italian dad’s repertoire.
Onassis was a Greek shipping magnate who established himself as one of the richest men on the planet in the 20th century.
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We might never get to know where exactly Italian fathers’ obsession with the Greek tycoon stems from, but we are sure that countless generations of young Italians will continue to be reminded that their father isn’t nearly as opulent as Onassis.
Countless alternative versions of this expression exist, including non sono la Banca d’Italia (“I’m not the Bank of Italy”) or those referring to Italy’s very own cavaliere, Silvio Berlusconi, such as: “non sei la figlia di Berlusconi” (“You’re not Berlusconi’s daughter”)
Io non vado a rubare!
Roughly translatable into English as “I don’t steal for a living!”, this is another parenting staple for requests involving the purchase of expensive items.
The phrase is generally uttered with sheer indignation and accompanied by various expressions of outrage.
Financial prudence is top of Italian dads’ priorities. Mess with that at your peril.
Come ti ho fatto, ti distruggo.
The “I’ll destroy you just as easily as I made you” ultimatum is not used lightly but, whenever the circumstances call for it, the real Italian father will not hesitate to pull out this verbal ace.
Generally triggered by grave displays of disrespect or (very) bad behaviour, the expression is nothing short of a psychological warfare masterpiece.
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Questa casa non e’ un albergo.
Here’s one for the rogue adolescents having a hard time abiding by the sacred rules of the house, especially those turning up late for meals or getting home late at night.
Italian fathers don’t like to beat around the bush, so any breach of the law of the land is met with a stark reality check: “This house is not a hotel”.
The phrase might sometimes be followed by “You cannot come and go as you please” (Non puoi andare e tornare come ti pare e piace) but the first part is usually sufficient to get the message across.
Hai la coda?
Very few things upset Italian dads as much as an open door does.
It doesn’t really matter what type of door – whether that be the front door, a bedroom door or even a car door – as long as it’s one that their unfailing judgement commands should be shut at all times.
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As a result, any Italian boy or girl forgetting to close a door behind them should expect to be asked whether they have a tail (coda).
It nearly goes without saying, having a coda would theoretically explain why the guilty party didn’t close the door in question.
If you’ve had the luck (or misfortune – you decide) to be raised by an Italian father, you’ll know this one all too well.
When mercilessly turning down yet another one of his children’s requests, the quintessential Italian dad doesn’t remotely bother coming up with a plausible reason for doing so.
It’s not happening “because I said no”. That’ll be all.
Ma da chi hai preso?
It’s only right for us to wrap up with Italian dads’ darkest moment of doubt. That’s when the actions of their children make them question whether they actually are the fathers of the misbehaving brats after all.
The phrase in question, which is roughly translatable into English as “Who did you get this from?”, is usually said with a mixture of dismay and bewilderment.
The Italian father cannot fathom where his offspring’s disposition to reprehensible behaviour comes from but refuses to accept that his genes might be responsible.
Several hours of silent introspection generally follow the utterance of this phrase.