Italian Language Blog

Il Riccio e’ … Posted by on Mar 14, 2009 in Grammar

Firstly, well done everyone who had a go at my little competition.

Here is the translation of the clues together with the answers:

1. Il primo si trova sulla testa di chi non ha i capelli lisci, assomiglia a una molla.

1. The first is found on the head of someone who hasn’t got straight hair, it looks like a spring.

The answer is ‘a curl’ e.g. Maria ha una testa piena di ricci (Maria has a head full of curls). However it can also mean something in the form of a curl e.g. un riccio di burro (a butter curl), un riccio di legno (a wood shaving).


2. Il secondo ha quattro zampe e il muso appuntito. Gli piace mangiare insetti e lumache, si trasforma in una palla per difendersi.

2. The second has four legs and a pointed face. It likes to eat insects and snails, it transforms itself into a ball to defend itself.

The answer is ‘a hedgehog’, which looks very similar to the next type of riccio…….


3. Il terzo protegge il frutto di un albero e fa molto male a toccarlo. Il frutto si mangia soprattutto arrostito, bollito, o come farina.

3. The third protects the fruit of a tree and really hurts if you touch it (or accidentally sit on it as I have done more than once!). The fruit is mainly eaten roasted, boiled, or as flour.

The answer is a chestnut husk. This was the hardest definition for most of you. For us however, living in an area where Il Castagno (The Chestnut) is one of the most important and predominant trees, it is probably the most common form of riccio. Not only is the chestnut an important source of firewood and timber for making durable furniture it is also a traditional source of highly nutritional food. Many of you will have enjoyed roasted chestnuts in the autumn, and perhaps even boiled chestnuts, but here chestnuts are mainly collected to be ground into farina di castagne (chestnut flour) which is then used to make some of the delicious recipes that we enjoy in this part of Italy such as la pattona. See my post:


4. Il quarto si trova nel mare, spesso attaccato agli scogli. E’ rotondo e non e’ affatto piacevole calpestarlo.

4. The fourth is found in the sea, often attached to the rocks. It’s round and not at all pleasant to stand on. I know because I’ve trodden on one!

The answer is a sea urchin.

As you can see definitions 2. 3. and 4. all share similar spiky characteristics, and in fact in my dictionary are grouped together under the same heading. Note that although I’ve managed to sit on chestnut husks and step on a sea urchin I have as yet managed to avoid stepping on a hedgehog!

Definition 1. the ‘curl’ has it’s own separate heading, please don’t ask me the connection between something spiky and something curly, the answer is probably lost in the mists of time.

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  1. mc:

    Interessante, avevo imparato molto da questa lezione e anche le altre. Lei ringrazio, non smette mai per piacere!

  2. Bella:

    Don’t forget that “riccio” is also a word to describe a type of bracelet with a “spikey” design! The links have little spikes on them like a “hedgehog”

  3. René Seindal:

    Avete provato la pasta con i ricci? Bbona! Però, si paga assai e mangia poco 🙂

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