This week’s idiom is “a mano a mano”. This expression’s generic form is “poco a poco”, which means “little by little” in English. Just as in Italian, English also has an idiomatic version of this expression: “step by step”. Both idioms express the progress of little actions leading towards larger achievements.
The English idiom uses footwork as its analogy, while the Italian version refers to work done with hands (the idiom literally means “hand by hand”). On the land and in ones trade, success, in the Italian concept, is achieved by the hands.
To see this Italian value of un-rushed handiwork, one can look to the work of Paola Nervi, an Italian from Casale Monferrato who currently resides in France. She makes garments by hand, taking as long as necessary on each item she produces. She calls this line of garments “Slow Hands”, just like the idiom “a mano a mano”. For anyone interested in seeing this idiom come to life, “Slow Hands” has garments on display at Sentieri Italiani.