From Il Barone Rampante by Italo Calvino:

...che venisse a tavola con una tasca piena d’ossicini già spolpati, da lasciare nel suo piatto al posto dei quarti di tacchino fatti sparire sani sani.

I get the sense - the nobleman is stuffing his pockets with large bits of turkey and replacing them with little bones he's prepared specially for this purpose. But what does the expression "sani sani" mean ? I can't find it in my dictionary under sano or easily online.

  • In southern Italy dialects it is usual to double the adjectives to make them adverbs. In this case I think sani sani should be translated as entirely (completamente). Anyway, the doubling of an adjective is an adverbial form recognized in the whole Italy (ref. sapere.it/enciclopedia/avv%C3%A8rbio.html). But, if you prefer the adjective form, I'd suggest to use intonsi as a translation for sani sani.
    – N74
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 12:13
  • Welcome to Italian.SE, @N74. What makes you think that this phrase in the book by Italo Calvino (set in Liguria) uses one of the southern dialects?
    – I.M.
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 13:38
  • Hi @I.M. I'm not suggesting Calvino used a southern dialect: he had to write something like sane sane to stress the southern inflection of the expression. It's just the way I read this line as a southern Italian reader.
    – N74
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 14:05
  • 1
    Then it doesn't answer the question, and it's more of a comment about your personal perceptions. Thanks, I just wanted to clarify that.
    – I.M.
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 9:35
  • If you are satisfied with one of the answers to your question, please consider the option to "accept" an answer by clicking a checkmark next to that answer.
    – I.M.
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 9:05

2 Answers 2


In general, in Italian repeating an adjective is sometimes used to make its superlative form. As an native Italian speaker, I'd say it is rare in speech and almost only used by children or by people talking to children. Un gattino bello bello would mean A very beautiful kitten, giving the impression a child is speaking. Of course there are exceptions, as this Calvino's excerpt.

I haven't read the book, so the context is not completely clear to me, but I'd say sani sani is used as a superlative of (the plural of) integer (I mean not just a part and not fractioned) and it is used to add emphasis to the action of the Barone stuffing them in his pockets without eating them (it seems that he either was expected to eat them or to leave them there).

  • Welcome to Italian.SE, @gcoll!
    – Charo
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 21:58

Secondo il dizionario Treccani, sano può significare intero, quindi proporrei fatti sparire interi (in tasca al posto degli ossicini).

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