I love Italian proverbs as they just sound better when you say them in Italian. Of course, most are very similar to English proverbs and sayings. Somehow though, to me, the Italian ones seem to be a bit more profound and have a bit of depth to them.
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You probably have heard your parents or grandparents use many of these phrases. Please feel free to comment on the post as we’d love to hear all about it!
Disclaimer: Translating is always difficult, especially between languages. I have done my best to get these twenty-five proverbs and sayings correctly translated. Please no scolding if I’ve messed up on a word or two.
General Italian Proverbs and Sayings:
A chi vuole, non mancano modi
Where there is a will, there is a way
A Caval Donato non si guarda in bocca
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. This means every gift received can be very useful so don’t judge its quality.
A buon intenditor, poche parole
Someone doesn’t need much explanation – A word to the wise
A mali estremi, estremi rimedi
Desperate times call for desperate measures
Chi dorme non piglia pesci
You snooze, you lose. Who sleeps does not catch fish.
Il lupo perde il pelo ma non il visio
Old habits die hard. The wolf sheds its fur but not to be seen.
A chi dai il dito si prende anche il braccio
Give an inch and they’ll take a mile
La gatta frettolosa fa i figli ciechi
Haste makes waste. Everything must be done it its own time. The hasty cat has blind children.
Buon principio fa buon fine
A good beginning makes a good ending
L’erba del vicino è sempre più verde
The neighbor’s grass is always greener – it’s all about envy!
Bisogna prima pensare e poi fare
A closed mouth catches no flies. Think before you act. If you can’t say something nice or necessary, don’t say anything at all.
Meglio solo che male accompagnato
Better alone than in bad company
Ride bene chi ride ultimo
Who laughs last laughs best. This one is a warning – don’t celebrate ahead of time as you are never quite sure about the end.
Can che abbaia non morde
Barking dogs don’t bite
Il buon giorno si vede dal mattino
A good day starts in the morning. When a day starts in a good way – it will continue that way too.
Tra I due litiganti il terzo gode
When two people argue – the third person benefits
Non è tutto oro quello che luccica
All that glitters is not gold. Appearances can be deceiving.
Una casa senza donna è come una lanterna senza lume
This refers to the fact a woman makes a house a home. A house without a woman is like a lantern without a light.
Tra moglie e marito non mettere il dito
Don’t put a finger between a husband and wife, the bond is a tight one so don’t attempt to come between them.
Dopo la pioggia, arriva il sole
After the rain comes sunshine. Skies will inevitably clear, and things are bound to improve.
Una bella giornata non fa estate
One beautiful day doesn’t make a summer. One day of happiness doesn’t necessarily make a person entirely happy.
Non puoi avere sia una botte piena, che la moglie ubriaca
Meaning you can’t have it all! You can’t have a full wine barrel and a drunk wife.
Vino rosso fa buon sangue
Red wine makes good blood. It suggests that wine is so healthy is can make your blood good.