What does “go on the mattresses” mean?

POPULARLY used in gangster movies and war stories, you may have heard the expression “get on your mattresses” and wondered: what does that actually mean?

The proverb is often traced back to Italy, and you will most likely hear people use the proverb when referring to preparing for battle – but the story actually goes deeper.

What does “go on the mattresses” mean?

The saying essentially means to prepare for a fight with an enemy.

In the modern context of its use in gangster films, “walking on the mattresses” also expresses the need to employ reckless tactics or avoid mercy.


“Go to the mattresses” essentially means preparing for a fight with an enemy – but the saying has a long historyPhoto credit: Getty

Where does “walk on the mattresses” come from?

The phrase is often traced back to a story from 16th-century Italy.

When troops from Charles V and Medici Pope Clement VII besieged Florence, the bell tower of San Miniato al Monte was part of the defense.

A soldier named Michelangelo Buonarroti was assigned to defend the city and used mattresses to ward off cannon fire damage to the bell tower.

Another backstory from Italy explains that in times of war, families would normally leave their homes.

They then hired soldiers who instead slept in their homes to protect them.

The expression appears to derive essentially from an Italian folk memory of mattresses symbolizing security in times of war.

Was the phrase used in Godfather and The Sopranos?

While the stories behind the origin of the saying can be debated, its use in famous gangster films makes its importance clear.

The most notable instance was when tensions were rising on The Godfather, when Sonny said, “It’s all-out war! We go to the mattresses.”

https://www.the-sun.com/news/6000704/what-does-go-to-the-mattresses-mean/ What does “go on the mattresses” mean?


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