Translation:When I was little, I would not wear pants.
I found understanding "would" quite challenging so perhaps my present concept may help others who read this discussion. I found it helps to appreciate the English use of "would" is used in two contexts: 1) What would happen if....(the conditional) 2) What would have happened in the past. (Imperfect) The next trick is to put this into the appropriate Italian tense.
Addressing the second half of your question: I can't say for certain, but when translated exactly, the sentence means "I would not put on myself the pants". I imagine that it is implied that 1.) you are the one who put on the pants (or not in this sentence) and 2.) that the pants you would wear are you're own. I could be wrong though, so could someone confirm this?
How archaic. I wonder how many people actually know what this means?
"Pantaloni" are in fact "long pants", a reference to a time a century ago when young boys wore knickers until they got old enough to wear long pants (I suspect this was a fiction).
In today's changing fashions, I suppose the young lad could have worn a nice dress instead of pants. Maybe a kilt. Knickers if this was the 19th century. Let's at least hope he wore underpants.
How confusing English can be! To this native BE speaker, pants and knickers are the same thing - i. e., undergarments. Long outer garments are trousers, while short ones are shorts. I'm not sure what Jeffrey 855877 means. To me, an English lad born in 1944 to a poor family, it meant what happened to me: that until I was three, I had to wear my elder sister's dresses.
The sentence lends itself to the notion that the youngster didn't wear anything at all.
In AE, "pants" are always BE "trousers". AE "pants" are never undergarments. However, AE "panties" are always women's undergarments. And "trousers" are the same in both BE and AE.
I've always been curious about the Beatles' song in which the young lady is said to have "let her knickers down". In the US, "knickers" are "knee-pants" - trousers which only go down to just below the knee, where they are secured by a elastic or a belt or a snap of some sort. Rarely seen nowadays, mostly on golf-courses. Paine Stewart used to wear them on the PGA tour. They used to be much more common - worn by young boys who were not dressed in long pants or trousers for quite a while.
In many old family photos I have of babies and toddlers (in AE, up to about age 3), it's difficult to tell the girls from the boys because not only did the baby boys wear "dresses" (they were probably just called "baby clothes"), their hair wasn't cut. It was a passage into later childhood and maleness when a young boy got to wear trousers/pants of some sort (instead of a dress) and received a hair-cut, after which long hair and dresses were deemed effeminate. (Worthy of a psychological thesis, I'd say. Dressing a baby boy like a girl, then changing him to male clothes and hair for the rest of his life?).
But today, with gender reassignment/confusion/whatever, it's not all that unusual (though rare) for a young boy to insist on wearing dresses and or young girl to wear trousers. It's confusing.
After that digression: my point has to do with the fact that "pantaloni" are "long pants", i.e., "trousers", so that not wearing "pantaloni" could mean wearing knickers, a dress, a kilt, or nothing at all.
I suspected as much.
The term "knickers" in AE pretty much only refers to the short trousers ending below the knee. It comes from "Knickerbocker" the short trousers worn by the early Dutch settlers in that area. The word's popularity arose with publication of the satirical "A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty" written by American 19th century author Washinton Irving, under the pen-name Diedrich Knickerbocker. (I haven't read that book yet, but now I'm very much motivated to do so.)
You might be interested to know, if you don't already, that the full name of the professional basketball team from New York City is "The New York Knickerbockers", fondly know as "The Knicks".
There is also the Knickerbocker Club in Manhattan. It's a very exclusive men's club, similar in concept to the British gentleman's club, rather than the tawdry American application of that term to strip joints and nudie bars. There's probably a Knickerbocker strip club, but I don't know that for a fact. It's America, after all.
In conclusion, it seems the Brits have extended the word to mean panties, and it's not in common use here at all, although I think that if you referred to the basketball team as "The New York Knickers" you'd get a laugh in some quarters. You also might get beaten bloody, in the off chance anyone inclined to bar-fights overheard you and would also know what "knickers" are in BE. Very doubtful, that.
I translated "piccolo" (a masculine word in Italian) as "a little boy", which conveys the correct message in English. Even though, my answer was not accepted. I feel very sorry for that. Please duolingo, reconsider your correction! My greetings to everybody. January 22, 2017.