Italian Word of the Day: Tartaruga (turtle)

When I was in primary school, our class adopted a pet tartaruga (feminine, plural: tartarughe) and by all accounts, he is still alive and well! ūüźĘ

IPA: /tar.taňąru.…°a/

Below are some different kinds of turtles you may already be familiar with:

  • tartaruga marina = sea turtle
  • tartaruga azzannatrice = snapping turtle
  • tartaruga verde = green turtle
  • tartaruga scatola = box turtle
  • tartaruga embricata = hawksbill turtle
  • tartaruga dal dorso di diamante = diamondback turtle
  • tartaruga comune / caretta = loggerhead sea turtle

La tartaruga ha un guscio molto duro.

The turtle has a very hard shell.


Although the tortoise is part of the family Testudinidae, it is distinguished from other turtles by being land-dwelling rather than aquatic. Two possible terms for tortoise in Italian are testuggine and tartaruga di terra.

Figuratively speaking, the word tartaruga can refer to a slow-moving person, much in the way we’d call someone a snail in English.

Because the appearance of an abdominal six-pack resembles the shell of a turtle, it is often called addominali a tartaruga in Italian.

Vuoi scoprire i segreti per perdere la pancia ed ottenere degli addominali a tartaruga?

Do you want to discover the secret to losing your belly and getting a six-pack?

A popular American cartoon in the ’80s was the Tartarughe Ninja (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). The four characters are named after named after Italian Renaissance artists Leonardo (da Vinci), Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael.


La Tartaruga – Bruno Lauzi

One of my favourite Italian children’s songs is called La Tartaruga (The Turtle) written by Bruno Lauzi in 1975. First released as a single and later included on the album Johnny Bassotto, la tartaruga‚Ķ e altre storie, it became the theme song for the TV show Anteprima di ‘Un colpo di fortuna’.

La bella tartaruga che cosa mangerà
Chi lo sa, chi lo sa
Due foglie di lattuga e poi si riposerà
Ah ah ah, ah ah ah

La tartaruga un tempo fu
Un animale che correva a testa in gi√Ļ
Come un siluro filava via
Che ti sembrava un treno sulla ferrovia

Ma avvenne un incidente
Un muro la fermò
Si ruppe qualche dente
E allora rallentò

La tartaruga da allora in poi
Lascia che a correre pensiamo solo noi
Perch√© quel giorno, poco pi√Ļ in l√†
Andando piano lei trovò la felicità:
Un bosco di carote, un mare di gelato
Che lei correndo troppo non aveva mai guardato
E un biondo tartarugo corazzato che ha sposato un mese fa!

La bella tartaruga nel mare va perché
Ma perché, ma perché
Fa il bagno e poi si asciuga dai tempi di Noè
Eh eh eh, eh eh eh

La tartaruga, lenta com’è
Afferra al volo la fortuna quando c’è
Dietro una foglia, lungo la via
Lei ha trovato, là per là, la felicità:
Un prato d’insalata, un lago di frittata
Spaghetti alla chitarra per passare la serata
Un bosco di carote, un mare di gelato
Che lei correndo troppo non aveva mai notato
E un biondo tartarugo corazzato che ha sposato un mese fa

What will the beautiful turtle eat
Who knows, who knows
Two lettuce leaves and then she will rest
Ha ha ha, ha ha ha

The turtle was once
An animal that ran upside down
Like a torpedo she would spin away
She looked like a train on the railway

But she got into an accident
A wall stopped her
She broke a few teeth
And so she slowed down

The turtle from that point on
Left it to us to do the running
Because that day, a little further on
Moving slowly she found happiness:
A forest of carrots, a sea of ‚Äč‚Äčice cream
That she had never noticed before because she was running too much
And a blond armoured tortoise that she married a month ago!

The beautiful turtle goes into the sea because
Because, because
She goes for a swim and then dries off ever since the days of Noah
Eh eh eh, eh eh eh

The turtle, slow as she may be
Grabs luck when it’s there
Behind a leaf, along the way
She found happiness in that very moment:
A salad meadow, an omelette lake
Guitar spaghetti to spend the evening
A forest of carrots, a sea of ‚Äč‚Äčice cream
That she had never noticed because she was running too much
And a blond armored tortoise that she married a month ago

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