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10 wise Italian proverbs

Proverbs are around us in everyday life, so ingrained that we don’t even notice when we say them. Proverbs have been created to teach, educate and inspire and they are a great way to better understand culture.

This is why I have decided to gather 10 very wise Italian proverbs and show you the corresponding English one. Sometimes they are similar, other times very different, for sure reading them will enrich your day.

10 Italian proverbs to learn

Here are some very commonly used Italian proverbs if you incorporate them in your speaking, you will enhance your fluency and express yourself even better.

Chi tardi arriva, male allogia.

In English you can say The early bird gets the worm. Better to arrive early to get the best spot or best choice, this is the literal meaning.

A mali estremi, estremi rimedi.

In English you can say Desperate times call for desperate measures. This means that in certain particularly bad situations you can adopt solutions that normally you would not consider.

Ride bene chi ride ultimo.

In English you can say He who laughs last, laughs longest. This means to wait to claim victory because there may be something else unexpected coming.

Uomo avvisato è mezzo salvato.

In English you can say Forewarned, forearmed. This means if someone warns you, you should listen, because it will probably save you from something negative.

Chi fa da sé, fa per tre.

It means that whom works or does things on his own does the job for three people. This Italian proverb might seem against teamwork, in reality, it is used when someone asks for help to someone else and things go badly.

Il lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio.

In English you can say The leopard can not change its spots. It means that it is difficult to change eradicated habits even if someone can show some changes. In fact, the literal translation: “The wolf loses its fur but not its vice”.

Il mondo è fatto a scale, chi Ie scende, e chi le sale.

In English you can say Every dog has his day. This poetical sounding Italian proverb means that for someone can go well and for someone else goes badly. It literally means: “The world is made of stairs, there is who climbs them and who descends them”.

In casa di calzolaio non si hanno scarpe.

It can be translated: “In the house of the shoemaker, there are no shoes”. This means that often who works doing a certain profession then he doesn’t do the same at home when needed.

Chi va con lo zoppo impara a zoppicare.

In English, you can translate it with bad company brings bad habit. Therefore if you hang out with a mate that smokes for example, you will be very likely to get that habit.


Did you enjoy this list of Italian proverbs? Is there any other proverb do you know?
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