Italian Idioms starting with R
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Re Travicello (= Log King)
Re Travicello is an expression used to indicate, often in a derogatory sense, a person who occupies an important or official position, but having no sufficient skill or authority. The expression derives from a fable of Phaedrus, "The frogs asked for a king." The story suggests that it is better to have unable but harmless rulers, rather than cunning and authoritarian ones. More generally, it implies an advice to tolerate an unpleasant situation if there is a risk that a change will be for the worse.
Rendere pan per focaccia (= Give back bread for pizza)
The term refers to those who reciprocate with equal or greater harshness an offense, or a wrong received. It is certainly very ancient and first appears in writing in the 8th story of the 8th day of Boccaccio'a Decameron, where Zeppa, the wife of Spinelloccio says, "My Lady, you gave me back bread for a cake".
ritirarsi sull'Aventino (= withdraw in the Aventino hill)
It means to retire from a fight, sometimes with the intention of damaging, in so doing, the opponents. This was the Aventine hill in Rome where, according to legend, the populace retired in the 5th century BC, to protest against the abuses of the patricians; at that time Menenius Agrippa, with his famous parable of the parts of the human body, convinced them to return to the city.
Roba da chiodi (= matter of nails)
It derives from the custom of blacksmiths to use scraps of iron to manufacture nails, and indicates products of poor quality.