Lagazzettadellabici's Blog

A Glossary of Italian Cycling Terms

Posted in Uncategorized by lagazzettadellabici on April 14, 2010

So it’s nearly GIRO time and you are half way up the Zoncolan when your bottom bracket gives out. SHIT THE BED what’s the Italian word for Bottom Bracket. Fear not Gazzetta fans Lamby is here to help you in that sticky fumbling moment in the Italian bike shop.

This I hope will be an ongoing project that people can add too and correct my awful Italian. I’ll add it to the side bar for easy reference. To find most of these great terms I visited the original source created by www.biciveneto.it.

OK I’ve UPDATED this list due to popular demand with some basic Italian swear words which are at the bottom, so when you are on your bike and some shit in a car cuts you up you know what to scream at them………..The list I have used is from italylogue.com 

I’ll post some more colourful ones tomorrow as these are all quite standard and won’t get you into too much trouble.

alloy………………….. lega
aluminum……………. alluminio
arm warmers……….. manicotti
axle…………………… perno
bolt…………………… bullone
bearings……………… cuscinetti
brake(s)……………… freno(i)
brake lever…………… leve freno
bottom bracket……… movimento centrale
cable…………………. cavo
carbon fiber…………. carbonio
chain…………………. catena
chainring…………….. ingranaggio
chainstays…………… foderi bassi/orizzontali
computer…………….. computerino
CO2 cartridge……….. bomboletta
crank…………………. pedivella
crankset……………… guarnitura
derailleur, front……… cambio
derailleur, rear………. deragliatore
down tube…………… tubo obliquo
dropout………………. forcellino
fork……………………. forcella
frame…………………. telaio
gloves………………… guanti
handlebar…………….. manubrio, curva
handlebar tape……… nastro manubrio
headset………………. serie sterzo
helmet……………….. casco, caschetto
hub……………………. mozzo
jacket…………………. giubbino, mantellina
jersey………………… maglia
leg warmers…………. gambali
nipples (of spokes)… nippli
pedal(s)………………. pedale(i)
pump…………………. pompa
pump, mini………….. pompetta
rim……………………. cerchio
rim strip……………… flap
saddle………………… sella
shoes…………………. scarpe
seat pack……………. borsetta
seat post…………….. reggisella, canotto
seat tube……………. tubo sella
seat stays……………. foderi alti
shift lever……………. leve cambio
shorts………………… pantaloncini
skewer……………….. bloccaggio
spoke(s)……………… raggio, raggi
sprocket……………… pignone
steel………………….. acciaio
stem………………….. attacco, pipa
sunglasses…………… occhiali da sole
tights…………………. calzamaglia
tire (clincher)……….. copertone, copertoncino
tire (tubular)………… tubulare
titanium ………….. titanio
tread (of a tire) ………battistrada
tube (for tire)……….. camera d’aria
vest…………………… gilet
water bottle…………. borraccia
water bottle cage…… portaborraccia
wheel…………………. ruota

Glossary of Italian Cycling Words and Expressions


alè……………………….. go! (like the French word allez)
alla ruota……………….. on the wheel
ammiraglia……………… team car (lit. flagship, i.e. the admiral’s ship)
arrivo……………………. the finish line
battistrada(e)………….. pace setter(s)
cotto…………………….. cooked
dai!………………………. go! (sounds like “die”!)
crisi di fame……………. hunger crisis (bonk)
discesa………………….. descent; discesa pericolosa, a sign often seen on gran fondo courses, means “dangerous descent”
dura, dura!…………….. hard (as in a hard climb); hang in there! keep going!
forza…………………….. go! (lit. force, strength)
fuga……………………… breakaway; andare in fuga is to go on a breakaway
GPM (Gran Premio Montagna)……………… the crest of a climb at which mountain points are awarded in a race; often seen painted on the road
in bagno maria………… lit. “in the double boiler”: the situation of a rider who is between a breakaway group and the main pack; in no man’s land
gregario…………………. team rider, domestique
gruppetto………………. “laughing group,” i.e., the last group, composed of sprinters and others whose objective is just to arrive at the finish line (of a stage) within the time limit
gruppo………………….. peloton (also componant group)
nella scia……………….. in the wake (slipstream)
occhio!………………….. look out!
partenza………………… start
pendenza……………….. gradient (of a climb), expressed in per cent
ristoro…………………… feeding area…always found at gran fondos and long races
salita…………………….. a climb
scatto……………………. jump, spurt (also means “click”–a scatto is indexed shifting
scattante……………….. possessing quick acceleration (can describe a rider, bike, or wheel)
sotto!……………………. lit. under–get on a wheel!
strada…………………… road…a strada sterrata is an unpaved road (occasionally found in gran fondos!)
squadra………………….. team
su!……………………….. up! get up there! (as in to bridge a gap)
tifoso……………………. fan, supporter (tifosi is plural); used in all sports, not just cycling. The word “fan” is also widely used, as in “fans club.”
tirare, tira!……………… to pull, pull! (command)
tornante………………… hairpin curve…often numbered: Tornanteº is the 12th hairpin of the climb
traguardo………………. finish line
TV (traguardo volante). prime; often seen painted on the road at the point where it takes place
……………………… viva! (long live, hurrah for); often seen painted on the road

Some basic Italian swear and curse words

8. Accidenti! (ah-chee-DEN-tee)
Let’s start with something soft? This is the less-questionable version of “merda” (see #6) – when you want to say a euphemism like “crap” instead of swearing and saying “shit,” you’d say “accidenti.” It looks so much more innocent, doesn’t it? Almost like, “Oh, what a horrible accident that I almost said a bad word” or something. Anyway, this is the one to internalize so that you don’t let loose with any of the really bad ones in front of passing nuns.

7. Madonna! (mah-DOHN-nah)
While many Italian stereotypes turn out to be less true on the ground in Italy than you might have expected them to be, the one about Italians using “mamma mia!” as an exclamation of surprise or annoyance holds water – they actually do use it. But personally, I prefer the equally common “Madonna!” if for no other reason than it amuses me in this predominantly Catholic country. You can even pair this one with “porca” (see #1) for more emphatic (and less polite) uses.

6. Merda!
(MEHR-dah)
I’ve honestly not heard it as much in Italy as I have some of the other swear words on this page. This is, however, how you say “shit” in Italian, and it’s used in exactly the same way we use it in English. It also is incorporated into other phrases for more colorful meanings as well.

5. Cazzo!
(KAHTZ-soh)
“How do you say ‘fuck’ in Italian?” This is the answer – “cazzo” – although it literally is a colorful term for “penis” (see below), and this one you do hear.

4. Testa di cazzo!
(TES-tah dee KAHTZ-soh)
Sometimes translating things literally is what makes these swear words amusing to me – but sometimes it works out quite well, and that’s the case with this little gem. Instead of calling someone a “dickhead,” in Italian you’d call them a “head of dick,” or a “testa di cazzo.” Which, really, is the same thing? This is also a general way of calling someone an “asshole,” but the Italian “testa di cazzo” is a bit more rude so don’t use in polite company. “Cazzo” has lots of uses in Italian, like “culo” (see #3).

3. Vaffanculo!
(vah-fahn-KOO-loh)
It’s the Italian equivalent of “fuck off” or “go fuck yourself,” but literally means something vaguely like “go do it in the ass.” “Culo” on its own (meaning “ass,” but in a much more vulgar way than the English can really translate) has many, many uses in Italian, but this is the one non-Italians can latch onto quickly – The accompanying gesture for “vaffanculo” is the same as it is in English – a middle finger.

2. Cavolo!
(KAH-voh-loh)
“Cavolo” literally means “cabbage,” but when you say it emphatically it’s kind of like the equivalent of “holy crap!” or a more forceful version of “wow!” Even better, is what happens when you put the innocuous-looking “che” in front of it – “che cavolo?” offered as a question is kind of like saying, “what the fuck?” but you’re really saying, “what cabbage?”

1. Porca vacca!
(POR-kah VAH-kah)
This is my favorite one, hands down. In English, I’ve got lots of ways to say, “well, dammit!” in varying degrees of colorful language. In Italian, it’s no different. “Porca vacca” literally means “pig cow,” but it’s used in much the same way we’d say, “crap!” or “damn!” or the like – it’s not the most polite way to say it, but it’s also not the worst. What I particularly love about it is the literal translation (it cracks me up to think people are saying, “pig cow!”), and what’s fun about this is that you can put “porca” in front of just about anything. “Porca vacca” is my favorite for its literal silliness, but “porca miseria” (”miserable pig” or “pig poverty”) is a very close second-favorite for my perceived sense of the melodrama that goes with it.

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