La commedia all'italiana (Italian-style comedy) is created to makes us laugh. But for those of us learning Italian, it's also a great opportunity to learn a lot of new expressions and plays on words that lace most Italian comedies.
One of these comedy films on offer at Yabla Italian is Un figlio a tutti costi (a child at all costs). The first segment of the movie is short on dialogue because it contains i titoli di testa (the opening credits): But at a certain point, there is a great idiomatic expression that is worth knowing about and — why not? —memorizing. A couple is complaining about their financial situation to their accountant or attorney.
Qua tra IVA, Irpef e bollette,
Here, what with VAT, personal income tax, and bills,
praticamente siamo alla frutta.
we are basically at the bottom of the barrel.
Captions 14-15, Un Figlio a tutti i costi - filmPlay Caption
As many of us know by now, Italian meals, the main ones anyway, feature all or some of the following courses:
Although not last on the list, la frutta is the last thing we eat (although it can also come before the dessert, as well).
This tells you where the expression got its content. It implies "the end, the last thing." When, at the end of the meal, la frutta è arrivata alla tavola (the fruit has been served), the meal is, for all intents and purposes, over.
Siamo alla frutta!
Somehow, the idea of the fruit at the end of a meal has been adopted into Italian colloquial speech as a way of saying, "I'm on my last legs," "We're scraping the bottom of the barrel," "I'm done for (I can't continue)." Although it may be used in the singular: Sono alla frutta, it is more common to hear it in the plural, as a very general comment: Siamo alla frutta!
Here are some situations in which essere alla frutta is the perfect expression to use.
You are just about out of gas in the car.
Your wallet is empty, or just about.
You have been working on something for hours and need a break.
You have to come up with an idea, you've been trying, but at this point, the ones you come up with are really stupid.
You are hiking with a friend but can't keep up. Maybe you need some fuel.
You are trying to make a relationship work, but it might be time to call it quits.
Your computer is about to give up the ghost, it's so old.
So, things are not quite over, but just about.
Siamo alla frutta! is a common expression to use when you are having money problems but in the scene in question, there's an additional implication in the use of an expression having to do with fruit. The man speaking is calling attention to the voluptuousness of the woman at his side. He calls her fragolina (little strawberry). There's nothing innately Italian about that allusion, but now that you are more familiar with the expression siamo alla frutta, the scene will make a bit more sense and perhaps make you chuckle. The man wanted to keep the "fruit" image in the forefront.
If you feel adventurous, send us your Italian sentences with, as a tag: Siamo/sono alla frutta!
Ho pagato tutte le bollette e l'affito per questo mese,
I paid all the bills and the rent for this month,
e ora sono alla frutta.
and I am high and dry / scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Or you can put it at the beginning:
Sono alla frutta. Vado a prendermi un caffè.
I'm wiped out. I'm going to get some coffee.
Divertitevi! (Have fun!)
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