Italian Word of the Day: Pane (bread)

If there is bread on the table, I can’t help myself – I’m going to eat it all, right down to the very last crumb. I’ve been a bread lover since childhood and when I was 3 years old, I refused to eat anything else. Living in different countries has allowed me to taste different kinds of bread, from the French baguette to the Italian focaccia.

The word for bread in Italian is pane (masculine, plural: pani).

the italian word for bread

Pane is always present on Italian tables for lunch and dinner, at home or in a restaurant. The only time it isn’t served by default is when eating a pizza.

If you go to a panetteria (bakery), you’ll find all sorts of bread, grissini (breadsticks) and focacce. Here is a list of the most common types of bread. As you can imagine, each region has its own speciality.

  • Ciabatta: large bread with an elongated shape
  • Michetta or rosetta: a bread in star shape with a puffed dough
  • Tartaruga: it means turtle and its crust resembles the shell of a turtle
  • Bocconcino: a small rounded bread with a soft puffy inside and a thin crust
  • Focaccia: a very popular flat bread similar to pizza
  • Pane cafone: soft on the inside, crusty on the outside, the classic peasant bread
  • Ciriola: an elongated bread that is large at the center and small at the tips.
  • Pane toscano: made without salt, it is often served sliced to accompany soups, cheese or ready-sliced meat boards
  • Pane valdostano: made with rye dough
  • Coppia ferrarese: it has a unique twisted shape
  • Pan carré or pan cassetta: rectangular bread that is sliced for toast and sandwiches
  • and many others!

Chi è il prossimo? – Sono io, buongiorno. Vorrei tre ciabatte, mezzo chilo di grissini, due pezzi di focaccia, quattro bocconcini, un pane nero, due tartarughe e una rosetta.

Who’s next? – It’s me, good day. I would like three ciabatte, half a kilo of breadsticks, two pieces of focaccia, four bocconcini, one rye bread, two tartarughe and one rosetta.

Because pane is something you buy daily in Italy, it can be used in a figurative way to express something that is recurrent.

La palestra è il suo pane quotidiano. Ci va tutti i giorni.

Gym is his bread and butter. He goes every day.

Idioms featuring “pane”

Bread always has a positive connotation in Italy: it is tasty, healthy and cheap. The Italian love for bread has led to the creation of various expressions and idioms based around the word.

Comprare / vendere per un pezzo di pane

  • literal: to sell or buy for a piece of bread
  • meaning: to sell or buy for very little

Essere buono come il pane

  • literal: to be good like bread
  • meaning: to be a very kind person

Dire pane al pane e vino al vino

  • literal: say bread to bread and wine to wine
  • meaning: to say things as they are

Rendere pan per focaccia

  • literal: to give back bread for focaccia
  • meaning: to get back at, to avenge

Trovare pane per i propri denti

  • literal: to find bread for one’s own teeth
  • meaning: to find something that challenges you / to get what you deserve

Togliere il pane di bocca

  • literal: to remove bread from the mouth
  • meaning: to sacrifice something for someone else

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