Once upon a time in Italian

How do you translate once upon a time in Italian?

In this lesson, we’ll take a look at this very expression, also known as collocation, and even talk about some popular fairy tales in Italian.

Let’s get started! Iniziamo!

Once upon a time in Italian

First of all, let’s translate once upon a time in Italian.

C’era una volta
Once upon a time

a man and a woman in a strange cocoon

Once upon a time in Italian – Let’s break it down!

C’era una volta literally means there was once.

There was

Una volta

For example, you could say…

C’era una volta una splendida principessa.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess.

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

Learn to speak Italian like a native? Easy.
Italian All-in-One For Dummies appeals to those readers looking for a comprehensive, all-encompassing guide to mastering the Italian language. It contains content from all For Dummies Italian language instruction titles, including Italian For Dummies, Intermediate Italian For Dummies, Italian Verbs For Dummies, Italian Phrases For Dummies, Italian Grammar For Dummies, and Italian For Dummies Audio Set.


C’era, which means there was, is the past version of c’è, meaning there is. For example, you could say:

C’era un piatto di pasta sul tavolo.
There was a plate of pasta on the table.

C’è troppo rumore qui. Andiamo via.
There is too much noise here. Let’s leave.

Since there was is singular, it’s important to note that when the object of the sentence is plural, c’era actually becomes c’erano (there were) and you have to say c’erano una volta, as in…

C’erano una volta due bambine che vivevano nella foresta.
Once upon a time there were two little girls living in the forest.

a monster mountain

Una volta, due volte, tre volte…

Volta can be used to translate the English words once (“one time”) and twice (“two times”).

Be careful!
Time, as in “time is money”, is translated as tempo.

Potrai ascoltare la registrazione una volta sola.
You can only listen to the recording once.

Sono già andato al supermercato due volte stamattina.
I have been to the supermarket twice this morning.

C’era una volta una ragazza di nome Belle.
Once upon a time there was a girl named Belle.

beauty and the beast

Here’s how to pronounce the titles of some popular fairy titles in Italian.

Cappuccetto Rosso
Little Red Riding Hood
(“Little red hood”)

(cenere is “ash”)

Il gatto con gli stivali
Puss in Boots
(“The cat in boots”)

La principessa sul pisello
The Princess and the Pea

I tre porcellini
Three Little Pigs

La bella addormentata nel bosco
Sleeping Beauty in the Woods

Biancaneve e i sette nani
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

show white about to bite the poisoned apple

Once upon a time in Italian – Examples

C’era una volta un brutto anatroccolo.
Once upon a time there was an ugly duckling.

C’era una volta un lupo cattivo.
Once upon a time there was a big bad wolf.

C’era una volta una bimba che si chiamava Cappuccetto Rosso.
Once upon a time there was a little girl named Little Red Riding Hood.

C’erano una volta tre principesse e una matrigna.
Once upon a time there were three princesses and a stepmother.

Want more?

Now that you know how to say once upon a time in Italian, help Lingookies grow with a like!

Aiuta Lingookies con un 👍!

Now that you’ve seen how to say once upon a time in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

❤️ If you liked this Lingookie, share it with your social media friends who are also studying Italian!