Italian old proverbs: centuries of wisdom

Italian Genealogy: complicated made simple
March 10, 2012
Compendium of Italian gestures
March 17, 2012

Proverbs in Italy are the wisdom of the common people.

Our grandma and grandpa used these sayings to help us to understand things as their grandparents did with them.
Proverbs have been handed down over centuries in our culture and in our families: a precious culture passed on to the next generation by sharing with the next generation to that culture.
Many times they are in dialects and may differ slightly from town to town.
Many of them come from latin and Roman empire, others from Middle Age and Renaissance.
During centuries, some of these old Italian sayings was translated and used by other cultures as well.

To start this new subject, we found this video: there is a nice collection of sicilian sayings with the English translation.
They are common in the whole Italy so everybody here could understand the meaning even if the sicilian version is different.
Unfortunately, the transcript in the video is not correct.
The words you read, sometimes are not Italian and neither Sicilian.

Italian proverbs are simple and full of wisdom and cover all facets of Italian life: work, relationships, weather, food – everything.

We will be back on proverbs: a culture passed down for millennia now in danger of disappearing.
Do you remember any Italian proverbs? something your grandparents used to say? Share them with us!
Don’t be afraid if you are not able to write them in Italian or if you can’t understand the exact meaning, we will try to help you!


  1. Louise Denegre says:

    Does anyone know a southern proverb about “Three Louises christen a donkey?”

    • ItalianSide says:

      Hello Louise, this is typical italian: I never heard the version with Louise but I know the version with “three Michele”

      • Louise Denegre says:

        But what does it mean? My grandmother and aunt used to say this when we sat together at family gatherings.

  2. Donald antonangeli says:

    Will view this over and over.

  3. Mary says:

    Thank you for this other lovely testament to our ancestors…and here are a few I had recorded listening to my grandmother.

    ..porta aperta per chi porta; che non porta parta perche’ non importa aprili porta…
    ..tutti neri siete e in fila state e voi solo lo sapete quello che dite…
    ..sereno e’ e sereno sara’; se non e’ sereno se rasserenerà’…
    ..benedica e benediciamo, piu’ poco siamo e meglio andiamo…
    ..sulle spalle degli altri, cintura larga…
    ..inutile che uno si lava e che ti lisci; chi vuole sembrare bello deve nascerci..
    ..l’assino che non ha fatto la coda a tre anni mon la fa piu’… più’ il pazzo in casa sua che il savio in casa degli altri..

    E vi auguro tante belle cose.
    (As an adult, my Dad always wished this on me when I parted his company and it always settled kindly on my heart.)

    Mille grazie

  4. Joanne Trivigno Bozik says:

    Great page!!!!!

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