“Il sogno nel cassetto.”
“The dream in the drawer.”
“This means that what you wish to do in life, is kept, figuratively, in a drawer, and out of it come the dreams that you intend to turn to reality. For example, a car that you like a lot, but you don’t have the money to buy, or a vacation that you have never been able to do, but that has always been on your mind, that is referred to as ‘il sogno nel cassetto’.”
My dad, the informant for this saying, was born in London, England, but lived in Italy for 10 years of his life, from the age of 30. Over this period of time, he became fluent in the Italian language, learning many colloquialisms and expressions used in everyday speech. Though he does not speak in Italian as much as he used to, when interacting with friends and/or co-workers who are Italian, he still uses many of these sayings.
The informant learned this expression mainly from Italian TV, where it is very common for interviewers to ask celebrities what their “dream in the drawer” is. However, it was also used by many of his friends and acquaintances. This expression seems to have two slightly different meanings to it. Not only does it apply to goals you have set in your life, like a new car or an expensive vacation, as stated above, but it also has to do with dreams that you haven’t achieved, not because you are financially incapable, but because there has not been time, or the convenience to make them reality. Whatever the dream may be, the fact that it resides in a metaphorical drawer suggests that it is something that is safeguarded, held close, and never forgotten.