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15 Sayings in Italian to Add Flavour to Your Conversations

Italian is a beautiful language known for its romance, passion, and elegance. If you’re learning Italian, you may already be familiar with basic phrases and greetings. However, to truly spice up your conversations, incorporating popular sayings in Italian can add an extra layer of charm.

In this blog article, we’ll explore 15 Italian idiomatical expressions and proverbs.

Table of Contents

Italian Sayings About…

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Italian Sayings About Animals

Since ancient times, people have drawn much of their wisdom from observation of animals, and Italians are no exception.

Let’s dive into four animal-themed sayings in Italian:

1.   Lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio

Literal translation: A wolf may lose its fur, but not its bad habits.

English equivalent: Old habits die hard.

This Italian saying suggests that deeply ingrained habits or vices are difficult to change. Even if someone appears to have changed, their true nature or character remains unchanged.

2.   Gatto pigro fa come la volpe, per le feste fa le capriole.

Literal translation: A lazy cat acts like a fox, but for holidays it does somersaults.

English meaning: Laziness can be overcome for special occasions.

This Italian proverb conveys that even the laziest individuals can find motivation or energy when there is something special or exciting happening. Like, when you had to work all summer to get money for your favourite band’s concert!

3.   Il bue che dice cornuto all’asino

Literal translation: The ox calling the donkey horned.

English meaning: The pot calling the kettle black

This Italian phrase refers to someone criticizing or mocking another person for a flaw or characteristic they themselves possess. It highlights the hypocrisy in judging others while ignoring one’s own faults.

4.   Far ridere i polli

Literal translation: To make the chickens laugh

English meaning: To be utterly ridiculous or absurd.

After 3 sayings in Italian with deep lessons about human behaviour, an amusing and nonsensical phrase: This proverb is used to describe something that is so ridiculous that even chickens would find it funny. It’s a lighthearted way to express disbelief or amusement at something silly.

Italian Sayings About Food and Wine

In Italy, eating is seen as a way to come together with friends and family, and many traditional dishes are passed down through generations to build upon the strong Italian culture. Wine, of course, is seen as the perfect accompaniment, one that helps create an enjoyable experience that transcends beyond taste alone. It’s no surprise, then, that so many popular proverbs and sayings revolve around Italian dishes and wine.

Here are four sayings in Italian every lover of pizza and red wine should know:

5.   L’acqua fa male e il vino fa cantare.

Literal translation: Water is bad and wine makes you sing

English meaning: Wine brings joy, while water is ordinary.

This proverb highlights the idea that, for Italians, wine represents celebration, pleasure, and joy, while water is seen as a plain and ordinary beverage. It suggests that surrendering to life’s pleasures can bring happiness while avoiding them leads to boredom.

6.   Chi va a letto senza cena tutta la notte si dimena

Literal translation: Who goes to bed without dinner will toss and turn all night.)

English meaning: Skipping meals leads to discomfort.

Like so many other sayings in Italian, this proverb emphasizes the importance of having a satisfying meal before going to bed. It suggests that going to sleep on an empty stomach can result in restlessness and discomfort during the night.

7.   Si può trovare un capello nell’uovo.

Literal translation: You can find a hair in an egg.

English meaning: There’s a flaw in everything.

This Italian saying implies that perfection is an illusion and that even the best things may have imperfections. It reminds us to accept and embrace the flaws or limitations that exist in every situation or person. A very important lesson indeed.

8.   Non tutto il male viene per nuocere

Literal translation: Not all harm comes to harm.

English meaning: Every cloud has a silver lining.

This Italian proverb conveys that not every negative or challenging situation leads to negative outcomes. For, even in difficult times, there can be hidden opportunities or positive aspects to be found.

Sayings in Italian About Family

First, let us remind you that he concept of la famiglia (the family) is a core value of Italian tradition. In Italy, most people strive to maintain and uphold, as it’s considered essential for overall well-being and personal growth. It’s common for Italians to gather around the dinner table at least once a week to catch up on news, share stories, and exchange ideas; these moments bring about intimacy and joy that allow families to bond even stronger. As a result, many of the most popular sayings in Italian revolve around family.

Here are some of our favourite Italian proverbs about family:

9.   Una buona mamma vale cento maestre

Literal translation: A good Mum is worth a hundred teachers.

English meaning: Mothers are irreplaceable.

This Italian saying suggests that mothers have the most important job of all, and no teacher or mentor can substitute for them. It recognises the invaluable role of motherhood and celebrates how nurturing and caring mothers can be.

10.   L’unione fa la forza

Literal translation: Unity makes strength.

English meaning: Strength comes from unity.

This Italian proverb emphasizes the importance of togetherness when it comes to making progress in life. It suggests that by working and standing together, we can accomplish more than by going at it alone. By uniting our efforts and strengths, we can make a bigger difference in the world.

11.    Tra moglie e marito non mettere il dito

Literal translation: Don’t put your finger between wife and husband.

English meaning: Don’t meddle in a marital dispute.

This Italian saying is a warning against meddling in other people’s affairs, especially those of married couples. It may also suggest that the bond between a husband and a wife is so sacred that no one should try to come between them.

12.   Chi si volta, e chi si gira, sempre a casa va finire

Literal translation: Who turns and who goes, will always end up at home.

English meaning: Home is always where the heart is.

Like so many other sayings in Italian, this beautiful proverb reminds us of the importance of family in our lives. It suggests that no matter what paths we take or how far away we wander from our homes, we will eventually come back to the people who love us the most.

Are you ready for our last round of sayings in Italian?

Italian Sayings About Religion

Even though there is a decline in overall religious practice in Italy, religion has played a significant role in Italian culture, and many proverbs reflect spiritual beliefs and values. Let’s explore four sayings in Italian that are related to religion:

13.   Il cielo aiuta chi si aiuta

Literal translation: Heaven helps those who help themselves.

English meaning: God helps those who take the initiative.

This is a popular proverb in Italian that encourages people to take responsibility for their own lives and do their best, knowing that divine help will come if necessary. It is a reminder that we should work hard and do what we can to make our dreams come true.

14.   Chi ha fede, vola senza ali

Literal translation: He who has faith flies without wings.

English meaning: Faith gives you power.

This Italian proverb is a reminder that having faith in something bigger than yourself can give you the strength and courage to overcome all kinds of obstacles. It suggests that with faith, you can achieve anything, regardless of how difficult it may seem.

15.    Chi loda Dio a mezza bocca, a nessuno piace

Literal translation: He who praises God with a half-open mouth, pleases no one.

English meaning: Be sincere in your faith.

This proverb cautions us against hypocrisy when it comes to our beliefs and encourages us to be genuine in our expressions of worship. It suggests that we should not pretend to be religious but should instead practise our faith with all of our hearts.

Go Beyond Sayings in Italian: Take a Customised Italian Course!

In conclusion, saying in Italian are a great way to discover the wisdom and values of this beautiful country. From proverbs about family and religion to ones that emphasise the importance of hard work and unity, these wonderful phrases provide us with insight into the culture of Italy and remind us of what is important in life.

So, Aare there any other sayings in Italian that you find inspiring? Share your favourite sayings with us on our social media!

Oh, and if you’d like to learn more about Italian proverbs, be sure to send us a quick inquiry about our customised Italian courses.

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At Listen & Learn, we work with experienced instructors who can help you learn Italian in a fun and engaging way. By mixing language lessons with cultural activities, you’ll be able to learn more and have a better understanding of Italian society.

So, what are you waiting for? Go beyond sayings in Italian and start your journey towards fluency today!