Italian Proverbs

Sayings of Italian origin

  • Every door may be shut but death’s door.
  • He who laughs too much, is hiding his grief.
  • The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
  • Old thanks cannot be used for new gifts.
  • One who speaks fair words feeds you with an empty spoon.
  • What does not poison, fattens.
  • He who sups with the devil must use a long spoon.
  • Years and sins are always more than admitted.
  • When the danger has passed, the saints are soon forgotten.
  • A donkey cannot trot for long.
  • Too much prosperity makes most men fools.
  • God save me from a bad neighbor and a beginner on the fiddle.
  • He who does as he likes has no headache.
  • Who suffers from love, feels no pain.
  • Big mouthfuls often choke.
  • Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.
  • Bed is the poor man’s opera.
  • Does your neighbor bore you? Lend him some money.
  • No good lawyer ever goes to court himself.
  • Old habits die hard.
  • What pay, such work.
  • Hasty climbers have sudden falls.
  • Old saints don’t get incense anymore.
  • Love makes all equal.
  • If you stumble more than once over the same stump, you have no one to blame but yourself.
  • It is better to wear out one’s shoes than one’s sheets.
  • With the first wife is matrimony, the second company, the third heresy.
  • The rich never have to seek out their relatives.
  • A little man often casts a long shadow.
  • It is better to lose the saddle than the horse.
  • Anger can be an expensive luxury.
  • Absence is a foe to love; away from the eyes, away from the heart.
  • One may have good eyes and yet see nothing.
  • A lawsuit is a fruit-tree planted in a lawyer’s garden.
  • The healthy die first.
  • He is a friend when you sneeze , all he says is “God bless you.”
  • If you want to buy love, love itself is the price you’ll have to pay.
  • With patience you go beyond knowledge.
  • The anvil lasts longer than the hammer.
  • Yielding is sometimes the best way of succeeding.
  • The best way to get praise is to die.
  • Nothing improves the taste of pasta more than a good appetite.
  • Between wife and husband don’t put a finger.
  • Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, storm and hail.
  • Who by himself can do anything, do not wait for others to do.
  • Be fair to the devil.
  • If you dig a pit for others, you might fall into it yourself!
  • A market is three women and a goose.
  • It is easy to frighten the bull from the window.
  • If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed must come to the mountain.
  • The good stuff – think about it.
  • Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out.
  • The best defense is attack.
  • Gifts of enemies are no gifts.
  • The person who offends writes as if it was written on sand, and the person who is offended reads it as if it were written on marble.
  • He who builds by the roadside has many surveyors.
  • Many are brave when the enemy flees.
  • Hope is the last thing ever lost.
  • Eat and drink with your relatives, but do business with strangers.
  • There’s no fool like a learned fool.
  • Where there is no temptation there is no glory.
  • A priest is a man who is called Father by everyone except his own children who are obliged to call him Uncle.
  • Experience runs a valuable school, but fools learn in no other.
  • He who has the Pope for a cousin soon becomes a Cardinal.
  • All are not saints who go to church.
  • All the brains are not in one head.
  • Not every truth is good to be told.
  • Expect nothing from friends, do what you can do yourself.
  • If only I were a bird! Ah, but eating caterpillars?
  • Voice of one, voice of none.
  • Help yourself and God will help you.
  • A rakish bachelor makes a jealous husband.
  • Of two evils choose the least.
  • Caution is the mother of safety.
  • Foolish boys, wise men.
  • Sorrow makes gray hairs before the time.
  • A cask of wine works more miracles than a church full of saints.
  • In the house of the shoemaker there are no shoes.
  • The countries you visit, the customs you find.
  • Our last garment is made without pockets.
  • All that dangles does not fall.
  • It is better to say “here he ran” than “here he died”.
  • You cannot write down a meaningful silence.
  • Love begins with song and music and ends in a sea of tears.
  • Who needs, inquire.
  • You don’t go to heaven in a carriage.
  • Happiness that lasts too long spoils the heart.
  • Skip the enjoyment that you will regret.
  • The scent of every flower is short lived.
  • Every man is nearest himself.
  • Better give a penny than lend twenty.
  • You cannot flay a stone.
  • After the game the King and pawn go into the same box.
  • An ocean lies between what is said and what is done.
  • Those who don’t understand prayer let them go to sea.
  • If you would be rich in a year, you may be hanged in six months.
  • You cannot make the mule drink when he is not thirsty.
  • He who knows little quickly tells it.
  • The more the fox is cursed, the more prey he catches.
  • Everyone loves justice in the affairs of another.
  • To him who is determined it remains only to act.
  • There is a deep sea between saying and doing.
  • She who is born a beauty is born betrothed.
  • He that is afraid of the devil does not grow rich.
  • The remedy is often worse than the disease.
  • Those who begin many things finish but a few
  • Who serves the public, serves no one.
  • The purse of loved ones is tied with a gossamer thread.
  • Give neither counsel nor salt till you are asked for it.
  • Who will not be ruled by the rudder must be ruled by the rock.
  • Men are as old as they feel, women as old as they look.
  • A hundred-year-old revenge still has its baby teeth.
  • One devil does not make hell.
  • They say so,  is half a lie.
  • One should learn to sail in all winds.
  • After the storm ends, the sun will shine.
  • Everything is good for something.
  • It is the first shower that wets.
  • The hidden things of wisdom and a treasure that is not seen, what profit is in them both?
  • The dying cannot leave their wisdom or experience to their heirs.
  • Vices are learned without a master.
  • The best armor is to keep out of range.
  • It’s no time to play chess when the house is on fire.
  • He who never begins will never end.
  • Where there is nothing to gain, there is a lot to lose.
  • Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • Masters’ hints are commands.
  • Actions are male, words female.
  • When the sun is highest it casts the least shadow.
  • What you reap is what you sow.
  • He that has a head of glass must not throw stones at another.
  • The person who lives by hope will die by despair.
  • If a man deceives me once, shame on him; if he deceives me twice, shame on me.
  • Even a frog would bite if it had teeth.
  • One can never be too careful.
  • Old friends are always new.
  • Of two cowards, the one who finds the other out first has the advantage.
  • A good anvil fears no hammer.
  • The buyer needs a hundred eyes, the seller not one.
  • When the tree is down, everyone runs to it with a hatchet to cut wood.
  • The comforter’s head never aches.
  • No woman ever speaks the naked truth.
  • A lover’s anger is short-lived.
  • Better to turn back, than to painfully move forward.
  • What worth has beauty if it is not seen?
  • Between two cowards, the first to detect the other has the advantage.
  • Every dog is a lion at home.
  • To a weaving that has begun, God sends threads.
  • It is not enough to aim; you must hit.
  • When I’m dead, everybody’s dead — and the pig too.
  • To preserve friendship, one must build walls.
  • Today for me, and tomorrow for you.
  • A little truth helps the lie go down.
  • It is better to ride a donkey that carries you than a horse that throws you.
  • Drink water like an ox, wine like the king of Spain.
  • To whom much is entrusted, much is required.
  • Substance is not enough, accident is also required.
  • When a friend asks, there is no tomorrow.
  • When the ship has sunk everyone knows how she might have been saved.
  • Go early to market and as late as you can to battle.
  • Who knows most, knows least.
  • If you would succeed, you must not be too good.
  • Speak of the Devil and he appears.
  • It is a bad game where nobody wins.
  • Many pupils have gained more wealth than their masters.
  • It is the blood of the soldier that makes the general great.
  • Delayed is preferable to never.
  • Money begets money.
  • He who serves the public has a sorry master.
  • Hunger is the best sauce.
  • Gold is the devil’s fishhook.
  • Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box.
  • Never point out the mistakes of another with a dirty finger.
  • Everyone thinks his own cross is heaviest.
  • Fools grow without watering.
  • In the house of the hanged man, mention not the rope.
  • No sooner is a law made than a way around it is discovered.
  • He who takes a woman gives away his freedom.
  • If someone betrays you once, it’s his fault. If he betrays you twice, it’s your fault.
  • Teeth placed before the tongue give good advice.
  • To taste the sweet, you must taste the bitter.
  • Don’t judge a horse by its harness.
  • He who is not impatient is not in love.
  • Where there are no hounds the fox is king.
  • Preventing someone from falling is better than helping him get up.
  • No pear falls into a shut mouth.
  • Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
  • He that jokes confesses.
  • Pride comes before fall.
  • He who has not obeyed, cannot command.
  • If you have a good cellar at home don’t go drinking at the tavern.
  • Who well begins, is half way through his task.
  • Short is the road that leads from fear to hatred.
  • From listening comes wisdom, and from speaking repentance.
  • If the secret sorrows of everyone could be read on their forehead, how many who now cause envy would suddenly become the objects of pity.
  • Old wine and friends improve with age.
  • Let not your tongue say what your head may pay for.
  • Such father, such son.
  • Of what does not concern you say nothing good or bad.
  • The fish rots from the head.
  • Better a mouse in the pot than no stew at all.
  • Necessity is a great teacher.
  • The joker confesses.
  • The best advice one can give to the hungry is bread.
  • I might have lost my ring, but I still have my fingers!
  • A fool’s spark glows in all men.
  • One minute of patience can result in ten years of peace.
  • Good is good, but better beats it.
  • Out of a white egg often comes a black chick.
  • A doctor and a clown know more than a doctor alone.
  • The poorhouse is full of honest people.
  • If you are determined — just do it!
  • A kiss without a moustache is like beef without mustard.
  • Necessity knows no law.
  • It’s a bad plan that cannot be changed.
  • The aim is more to the effect of affection.
  • Never reveal the bottom of your purse or the depth of your mind.
  • If pride were a disease, how many would be already dead?
  • Better one now, than two in the future.
  • There’s no thief like a bad book.
  • No wonder lasts more than three days.
  • The eye is blind if the mind is absent.
  • God sends us the meat, but it is the Devil who sends us cooks.
  • He who knows nothing doubts nothing.
  • To him that watches, everything is revealed.
  • Mills and wives are ever wanting.
  • It is not for the blind to give an opinion on colors.
  • Such mother, such daughter.
  • Feather by feather the goose is plucked.
  • Misfortune does not always result in harm.
  • Better untaught than ill taught.
  • In a hundred years we will be dead anyway.
  • The second thought is always the best.
  • Who seeks a quarrel will find it near at hand.
  • Let every fox take care of his own tail.
  • What you can’t have, abuse.
  • Shortcuts are often longcuts.
  • As soon as a new law is made, a way around it is devised.
  • Do not sell sun in July.
  • Strike while the iron is hot.
  • Failures are but mileposts on the road to success.
  • A new broom sweeps well the house.
  • Virginity is noted only in its absence.
  • When God punishes a land, he deprives it leaders of wisdom.
  • He who has no patience, has nothing at all.
  • The person who enjoys good health is rich, even if he doesn’t know it.
  • He gains a great deal who loses a vain hope.
  • When the danger is past God is cheated.
  • Many people can pack the cards; fewer can play the game.
  • To him who is determined it remains only to act.
  • Tenderness can be a bad judge.
  • Applaud the man who cheats a cheater.
  • Six feet of earth will make us all equal.
  • Patience is a plant that does not grow in everyone’s garden.
  • What is done cannot be undone.
  • Where god has a church the devil will have his chapel.
  • Enemy divided, half won.
  • He wastes his tears who weeps before the judge.
  • A burden that one chooses is not felt.
  • He is a sorry barber who has but one comb.
  • To a quick question give a slow answer.
  • It is better to give away the wool than the sheep.
  • A thorn has a small point, but the person who feels it does not forget its sting.
  • Where gold speaks every tongue is silent.
  • When it thunders the thief becomes honest.
  • One would not be alone even in Paradise.
  • A bow that is bent too far will break.
  • Every excuse is good, if it works.
  • He who goes not into battle cannot wear a crown.
  • Often he who does too much does too little.
  • Not everything, which is bad, comes to hurt us.
  • It is better to be condemned by many doctors than by one judge.
  • Yes and no rule the world.

The Italian Republic

Italian Proverbs

Italy a unitary parliamentary republic in Southern Europe. To the north, Italy borders France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia, and is approximately delimited by the Alpine watershed, enclosing the Po Valley and the Venetian Plain. To the south, it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula and the two biggest Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia.
Italy’s capital and largest city, Rome, has for centuries been the leading political and religious centre of Western civilisation, serving as the capital of both the Roman Empire and Christianity. (Source)

Italian language is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, as a second language in Malta, Slovenia and Croatia, by minorities in Eritrea, France, Libya, Monaco, Montenegro, and Somalia, and by expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Many speakers are native bilinguals of both standardised Italian and other regional languages.

“Il Canto degli Italiani “(The Song of the Italians) is the Italian national anthem.


Brothers of Italy,
Italy has woken,
Bound Scipio’s helmet
Upon her head.
Where is Victory?
Let her bow down,
For God created her
Slave of Rome.

Let us join in a cohort,
We are ready to die.
We are ready to die,
Italy has called.
Let us join in a cohort,
We are ready to die.
Italy has called!

We were for centuries
downtrodden, derided,
because we are not one people,
because we are divided.
Let one flag, one hope
gather us all.
The hour has struck
for us to unite.

Let us unite, let us love one another,
For union and love
Reveal to the people
The ways of the Lord.
Let us swear to set free
The land of our birth:
United, for God,
Who can overcome us?

From the Alps to Sicily,
Legnano is everywhere;
Every man has the heart
and hand of Ferruccio
The children of Italy
Are all called Balilla;
Every trumpet blast
sounds the Vespers.

Mercenary swords,
they’re feeble reeds.
The Austrian eagle
Has already lost its plumes.
The blood of Italy
and the Polish blood
It drank, along with the Cossack,
But it burned its heart.

More Italian Proverbs

  • To the person who watches, everything reveals itself.
  • Don’t even take a bath with fools, because they’ll throw away the soap.
  • It is better to be alone than to be in bad company.
  • When ill luck falls asleep, let none wake her.
  • The fool has to do at last what the wise did at first.
  • The feast passes and the fool remains.
  • That which the wise man does first, the fool does last.
  • Those who soon inquire, soon get old.
  • Whoever stays awake longest must blow out the candle.
  • A wise person sometimes changes his mind, but a fool never does.
  • Since the house is on fire let us warm ourselves.
  • You must marry a widow while she is still mourning.
  • The person who lives with cripples will soon learn to limp.
  • The river does not swell with clear water.
  • No rules without exceptions.
  • Tell everybody your business and they will do it for you.
  • Half a brain is enough for him who says little.
  • He that seeks to have many friends never has any.
  • It may be quieter to sleep alone, but not warmer.
  • If you throw money away with your hands, you’ll look for it later with your feet.
  • Never do that by proxy which you can do yourself.
  • The eagle does not wage war against frogs.
  • Into a closed mouth no flies ever entered.
  • If it rained macaroni, what a fine time for gluttons!
  • It is a good answer which knows when to stop.
  • Who goes to Rome a beast returns a beast.
  • Beware of the person with nothing to lose.
  • Those who sleep don’t catch any fish.
  • What shall I say when it is better to say nothing?
  • The person, who doubts nothing, knows nothing.
  • Moderate profits fill the purse.
  • Hope is the last to abandon the unhappy.
  • If a fox is preaching, then beware of your geese.
  • Who would make money must begin by spending it.
  • As the snow melts the filth shows through.
  • It is better to prevent than to cure.
  • Everyone can navigate in fine weather.
  • Even the fool says a wise word sometimes.
  • Translators, traitors.
  • Those are bad dogs that bite their own people.
  • He who has money finds many cousins.
  • By asking the impossible you will get the best.
  • He that wants should not be bashful.
  • Love kills time and time kills love.
  • Who gives bread to other’s dogs is often barked at by her own.
  • As the abbot sings, so the sacristan responds.
  • Conscience is as good as a thousand witnesses.
  • Beat the rogue and he will be your friend.
  • He who works by himself does the work of three.
  • The smaller the heart, the longer the tongue.
  • With so many roosters crowing, the sun never comes up.
  • A bad agreement is better than a good lawsuit.
  • A hidden sin is half forgiven.
  • If the wife sins, the husband is not innocent.
  • Love rules without rules.
  • Who has no courage must have legs.
  • Who builds upon the people, builds upon sand.
  • The priest’s friend loses his faith, the doctor’s his health, and the lawyer’s his fortune.
  • Do good and care not to whom.
  • A cage made of gold does not feed the bird inside of it.
  • Ingratitude is the world’s reward.
  • A small woman always seems newly married.
  • When the head aches all the members languish.
  • A golden cage does not feed the bird.
  • The just man may sin with an open chest of gold before him.
  • A gift long expected is sold, not given.
  • Good company on the road is the shortest of short cuts.
  • Sometimes it is better to give your apple away than to eat it yourself.
  • One with the courage to laugh is the master of the world almost as much as the man who is ready to die.
  • The remedy for injuries is not to remember them.
  • Diseases are the visits of God.
  • He who is born with a weak intellect and a goiter can never be cured.
  • It’s a foolish sheep that makes the wolf its confessor.
  • Forbidden fruit is sweetest.
  • Who offends writes on sand; who is offended, on marble.
  • Public money is like holy water; everyone helps himself to it.
  • He ends well who considers the end.
  • Under white ashes there is glowing coal.
  • Nothing dries quicker than tears.
  • Who depends on another man’s table often dines late.
  • Marriages are not as they are made, but as they turn out.
  • God keep me from my friends; from my enemies I will keep myself.
  • A hundred wagon loads of thoughts will not pay a single ounce of debt.
  • To the person with little shame, the whole world is his.
  • Give them a finger and they’ll take an arm.
  • He who knows little knows enough if he knows how to hold his tongue.
  • The cheat always lies at the feet of the cheated.
  • Who sows thorns should not go barefoot.
  • The dog that barks doesn’t bite.
  • Reason lies between the bridle and the spur.
  • Better a living donkey than a dead doctor.
  • To know everything is to know nothing.
  • Trust not the praise of a friend nor the contempt of an enemy.
  • Everything has a reason.
  • A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.
  • The right man comes at the right time.
  • Wealth does not bring happiness.
  • To be lucky you need a little wit.
  • By asking for the impossible, obtain the best possible.
  • Of the wealth of the world each has as much as they take.
  • Extreme disease, extreme treatment.
  • Have an open face, but conceal your thoughts.
  • A favor to come is better than a hundred received.
  • He who has nothing, lacks nothing.
  • He makes things over the water.
  • A happy heart is better than a full purse.
  • He who can’t be advised, can also not be helped.
  • Adam must have an Eve to blame for his faults.
  • Only a fool asks, “What do you want with my wife?”
  • Experience is the mother of wisdom..
  • Better one true friend than a hundred relatives.
  • Three are powerful: the Pope, the king, and the man who has nothing.
  • Good tree makes good fruit.
  • Bitter fruit will fall before the ripe.
  • A new broom is good for three days.
  • The end of the pig is the beginning of the sausage.
  • It is the small expenses that empty your purse.
  • If you want the daughter, you must kiss the mother.
  • Who judges soon, soon repents.
  • The fear of war is worse than war itself.
  • Virtue comes not from chance but long study.
  • At a round table there is no dispute about place.
  • When wine comes in, modesty leaves.
  • He who has, is.
  • Give your friend a pig and your enemy a peach.
  • Everything you buy at the price.
  • Consolation, for the condemned, is to be one of many.
  • Man tries to be misjudged.
  • Those who sleep with dogs will rise with fleas.
  • He that flatters you more than you desire either has deceived you or wishes to deceive.
  • The donkey won’t drink if he can’t see water.
  • Break the legs of an evil custom.
  • Who has a head of wax should not be in the sunshine.
  • Where there’s life, there’s hope.
  • We learn from our mistakes.
  • Whoever loves me, loves my dog.
  • As it lingers, so it rakes peril.
  • The smoke of my own house is better than another man’s fire.
  • All is not butter that comes from the cow.
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