Pesce d’Aprile! April Fool’s Day In Italy

Practical Jokes, Pranks, and Buffoonery in Italy on April 1st


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Related Resources
• Buon Divertimento
• Games/Puzzles
• Italian Holidays 


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• April Fool’s Day—Computer Pranks
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• History of April Fool’s Day
• Poisson d’Avril 


Elsewhere on the Web
• Mappe degli Scherzi
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In Italy, as in much of the world, April 1st is traditionally a day of practical jokes, pranks, and silliness. The origin of this custom is ancient and ambiguous, but one thing is certain: much buffoonery and hilarity will take place.

The traditional pesce d’Aprile (April Fool’s trick) in Italy consists of a youngster surreptitiously attaching – with the help of tape or glue – a paper cutout of a pesciolino (small fish) to the rear shoulders of a school companion. Then everyone jokingly questions: L’hai visto?—Chi?—Il pesce d’Aprile! (or Have you seen?—Who?—the April Fool!) and makes derisive remarks about the victim.

The more sophisticated adult pranks are classics such as false communiques from the Ministry of the Interior about Martians attacking: “Sono sbarcati i marziani, chiudetevi tutti in casa,”or rumors that money is being give out: “Si distribuiscono soldi a tutti, andate in via Tal dei Tali al numero…” Every year there are new pranks which oftentimes tricks gullible individuals. Usually the media reports on them the day after and ranks the migliori pesci d’Aprile. Not to miss out on a culinary opportunity, there’s even a recipe for ravioli al pesce d’aprile to celebrate the occasion.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Terms including the word pesce (fish) are fairly common In Italian, no doubt due to the peninsula being surrounded by several bodies of water. Fishing, sailing, and seafood are all vital to the Italian culture, from which have sprung many piscine idioms. These terms include:


  • buttarsi a pesce — to make a dive for, to begin an activity with enthusiasm
  • chi dorme non piglia pesce — the early bird catches the worm
  • i pesci grossi mangiano i piccini — the big fish eat the small fry
  • non sapere che pesci pigliare — to be at one’s wits’ end (or at a loss), not to know which way to turn
  • pesce grosso — bigwig, big shot
  • trattare a pesci in faccia — to mistreat, to humiliate
  • un pesce fuor d’acqua — a fish out of water
  • un pesce lesso — a boring person

Insult Your Friends In Italian!
Weary of all those e–mail chain letters promising riches, fame, and fortune? Tired of all that spam clogging your e–mail box? Do your friends blatantly disregard netiquette? Respond to all that fesseria (foolishness) and those catene di Sant’Antonio (chain letters) in Italian with this satirical, irreverent Italian language e-mail flame form!


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