We all use it, but where does it come from, really? And how should we translate it into English? These are the two, most pressing questions associated with our expression of the day, alla faccia (ahl-la fah-tcha). According to our dictionary, it is a playful expression, often used to mock someone or something we’re saying.
Probably, alla faccia (which is always followed by the preposition di and its articulations) comes from a similar locution borrowed from Southern Italian dialects, fare qualcosa alla faccia di qualcuno, that is, to do something blatantly wrong to someone openly, quite literally, in their face.
Let’s make things easier with an example to read together, like “tradisce la moglie da prima del matrimonio: alla faccia dell’amore!,” which we translate as “he’s been cheating on his wife since before getting married: so much for love!” We notice a couple of important things: the first, of course, being that the husband is a certified scoundrel, but that’s not what we’re writing about. In the second part of the sentence, the use of alla faccia wants to stress that the husband’s behavior is the opposite of love, and that’s why we translate it with the equally, so to speak, sarcastic expression “so much for.”
Sometimes, alla faccia can also be translated with in spite of, like in alla faccia della dieta, mi sono mangiato mezzo tiramisù: “in spite of the diet, I ate half a tiramisù.”
Alla faccia is also used as an exclamation, to show surprise, but always mixed with a tiny bit of contempt, like in Marco dice che non guadagna abbastanza, ma ha appena comprato una macchina da 50mila euro.” “Alla faccia,” which we translate as: “Marco says he doesn’t earn enough, but he’s just bought a 50k car.” “So much for being poor!”
In Italian, alla faccia is a common expression, used almost exclusively in oral language, but with some excursions into the written, depending on the context in which we write, of course. It may take a little to get used to it and use it correctly, but nothing helps as much as trying!
Alla faccia delle critiche, ha vinto il primo premio
In spite of criticism, she won the first price.
Vado in vacanza, alla faccia del mio capo!
I’m going on holiday, in spite of my boss!
Alla faccia dell’amicizia, si è messa con il mio ex.
So much for friendship, she’s dating my ex!