Italian Word of the Day: Chicco (grain / bean)

The word chicco (masculine, plural: chicchi) in Italian primarily describes the grain from certain cereals.

/chìc·co/

Some examples of chicchi include:

  • grano (wheat) >> chicco di grano (grain of wheat)
  • orzo (barley) >> chicco d’orzo (grain of barley)
  • riso (rice) >> chicco di riso (grain of rice)
  • mais (corn) >> chicco di mais (corn)

Il mugnaio produce la farina macinando i chicchi di grano.

The miller makes flour by grinding wheat grains.


organic wheat grains  over rustic wood table macro closeup
I chicchi di grano = Grains of wheat

However it may also be used to talk about seeds from other plants including the coffee bean (chicco di caffè), grape (chicco d’uva) and pomegranate seed (chicco di melagrana).

Trivia for coffee lovers
Ground coffee translates as caffè macinato or caffè in polvere (lit: dust coffee).

Whole bean coffee is caffè in chicchi or caffè in grani (grano can also mean grain, making it a synonym of chicco).

Preferisco comprare il caffè in grani e macinarlo in casa. L’aroma e il sapore sono molto più ricchi del caffè venduto in polvere.

I prefer to buy whole bean coffee and grind it at home. The aroma and flavour are much richer than ground coffee.


Roasted coffee beans on old wooden table. Top view.
Chicchi di caffè tostati – Roasted coffee beans

By extension, chicco can denote specific kinds of small spherical objects, namely chicchi di grandine (hailstones) and chicchi di un rosario (rosary beads).

Did you know that…?
Chicco is a famous Italian brand of baby care products. Founder Pietro Catelli named it after his son Enrico, whose nickname was Chicco. It can also be the nickname for the first names Federico and Francesco. The feminine Chicca exists as well.


La ninna nanna del chicco di caffè

La ninna nanna del chicco di caffè (The coffee bean lullaby) is a famous Italian lullaby that was first sung at Zecchino D’Oro, an annual international children’s song festival, in 1970. You can follow along with the lyrics below!

Ninna nanna mamma
Tienimi con te
Nel tuo letto grande
Solo per un po’.
Una ninna nanna
Io ti canterò
E se ti addormenti
Mi addormenterò.

Ninna nanna mamma
Insalata non ce n’è
Sette le scodelle
Sulla tavola del re
Ninna nanna mamma
Ce n’è una anche per me
Dentro cosa c’è…
Solo un chicco di caffè.

Dormono le case,
Dorme la città.
Solo l’orologio
Suona e fa tic tac.
Anche la formica
Si riposa ormai,
Ma tu sei la mamma
E non dormi mai.

Ninna nanna mamma
Insalata non ce n’è
Sette le scodelle
Sulla tavola del re
Ninna nanna mamma
Ce n’è una anche per me
Dentro cosa c’è…
Solo un chicco di caffè.

Quando sarò grande
Comprerò per te
Tante cose belle
Come fai per me.
Chiudi gli occhi e sogna
Quello che non hai,
I tuoi sogni poi
Mi racconterai.

Ninna nanna mamma
Insalata non ce n’è
Sette piatti d’oro
Sulla tavola del re
Ninna nanna mamma
Ce n’è uno anche per te…
Ci mettiamo su
Tutto quello che vuoi tu.
Ci mettiamo su
Tutto quello che vuoi tu
.

Lullaby mom
Keep me with you
In your big bed
Just for a while.
A lullaby
I will sing to you
And if you fall asleep
I will fall asleep.

Lullaby mom
There is no salad
Seven bowls
On the king’s table
Lullaby mom
There is one for me too
What’s inside …
Just a coffee bean.

The houses sleep,
The city sleeps.
Just the clock
Makes a sound and ticks.
Even the ant
He rests now,
But you are my mom
And you never sleep.

Lullaby mom
There is no salad
Seven bowls
On the king’s table
Lullaby mom
There is one for me too
What’s inside …
Just a coffee bean.

When I grow up
I will buy you
Many beautiful things
Just as you do for me.
Close your eyes and dream
Of what you don’t have
And then you will
Tell me about your dreams.

Lullaby mom
There is no salad
Seven gold plates
On the king’s table
Lullaby mom
There is one for you too …
We will put whatever
You want on it
We will put whatever
You want on it.

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