One room that most of us couldn’t imagine living without these days is the bathroom or bagno in Italian (plural: bagni).
Bagno is a masculine noun that takes the following definite and indefinite articles:
Related to the verb bagnare (to get wet), it can refer to both the room with the bathtub, shower and toilet or just the toilet on its own.
Marco deve andare in bagno. Gli scappa la pipì.
Marco has to go to the toilet. He needs to pee.
Bagno can also refer specifically to the bathtub. If you want to specify that it’s the tub you’re talking about and not the room, you can use the complete expression vasca da bagno. Add the verb fare (or farsi) in front, and you get the expression fare / farsi un bagno (to take/have a bath).
Vai a fare un bagno. Non ti lavi da tre giorni!
Go and have a bath! You haven’t washed in three days!
Something I found fascinating when I first started learning Italian is that the expression fare / farsi un bagno can also mean to go swimming. A swimsuit is known as a costume da bagno.
Vado a fare un bel bagno nel mare.
I’m going to have a nice swim in the sea.
Usefully, if you want to tell someone to get lost because they’re causing you grief, you can substitute various vulgar expressions with the less offensive vai a fare un bagno. When said quickly, this becomes: vaffambagno or fambagno.
Vai a sederti là che voglio sdraiarmi sul divano. – Ma vaffambagno!
Go and sit over there, I want to lie on the sofa. – Oh, get lost!
Other meanings for bagno include hot spring, spa, public bath and bathing establishment. It is also the word used for penal colony (bagno penale), a remote location such as an island or distant territory used to exile prisoners and separate them from the general population.
Idioms featuring ‘bagno’
The bagno plays an important part in all our lives, which is probably why it appears in a surprising number of Italian idioms and sayings!
Fare un bagno di umiltà
- literal : to take a humble bath
- meaning : to eat humble pie
Fare il bagno nel profumo
- literal : to take a bath in perfume
- meaning : to wear too much perfume
Bagno di folla
- literal : a crowd bath
- meaning : a sea of people, a throng
Bagno di sangue
- literal : a blood bath
- meaning : a blood bath
Heather Broster is a graduate with honours in linguistics from the University of Western Ontario. She is an aspiring polyglot, proficient in English and Italian, as well as Japanese, Welsh, and French to varying degrees of fluency. Originally from Toronto, Heather has resided in various countries, notably Italy for a period of six years. Her primary focus lies in the fields of language acquisition, education, and bilingual instruction.