Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Going nowhere fast

You’re probably familiar with the expression to ‘go from pillar to post’, used when someone feels like they are going all over the place in search of an answer, following misleading information or the inefficient processes of others.
The Italian equivalent is ‘mandare qualcuno da Erode a Pilato’, which translates as ‘from Herod to Pilate’. The saying is actually derived from the legend in the Bible, where in the Gospel of Matthew, the decision over the fate of Jesus was passed back and forth from Herod to Pilate.

Today, it’s still used to express a helplessness caused by indecision or lack of ownership of a problem by an authority. When bureaucracy and red tape seem to stand in the way of even the simplest tasks, you’ll hear it cried in dismay.