Wise Italian sayings, stories, or words of wisdom?


Italian culture is so rich, the language, the music, the food. I wonder what are some of the Italian sayings that you can hear practically every day in Italy just like how you hear certain ones in America?
In America (and I’m sure in other places too), you hear, “better safe than sorry,” “keep your day job,” “another day another dollar,” all kinds of sayings about being glad it’s Friday, and a lot of other little sayings that people say on a daily basis. Does anybody know any conversational phrases that are constantly said, or any words of wisdom that regularly ‘float’ around Italy or in Italian culture?


I’m sure Italian, being such an expressive language, has lots of idioms. One that I find useful is the very simple “Basta! Basta” which means “enough is enough” and is used when somebody is annoyng you. I’ve used it when people on markets or in shops have been puching me too hard to buy something.


They have an awesome list of idioms and proverbs on here. Check out this topic. I don’t know how many of them are used regularly by Italians. @fkasara mentioned a few at the bottom of that topic, so they’re probably used conversationally (I’m assuming).


Hi, I agree with you, I’m sure that Italian culture is full of all sorts of colorful phrases and sayings. I’m so intrigued by many-things-Italian. I’m really enthusiastic about learning some of the really old world phrases and stories with morals from great-great grandmothers and/or grandfathers, and elders in general. Sayings from people who are 80 to 100 years old. I always find wisdom from that “time” to be fascinating, because back then people really took care of business :green_heart:. I had two aunts who lived to older ages, one lived to be 96, and one lived to be 100. I used to talk to them and ask them questions daily, because I wanted to know more and more. That age group has such wisdom about life, it’s crazy.

The “Basta! Basta” saying sounds kind of like the American “Okay, okay!” It could be used to tell somebody in a very stern way that you’ve had enough, or, depending on your tone of voice, it can be used in a nice way.


I don’t know whether it a “wise” saying but it amused me. “Bere come una spugna” means “to drink like a sponge”. It seems much more logical to describe somebody who drinks too much than “drinks like a fish” which is what my dad says. I’ve never seen a fish drink, but I have seen how sponges soak up liquid.


According to a well-known wise Italian saying, any salad should be cooked by four chefs: a stingy man, a philosopher, a profligate, and an artist. A stingy man should season the salad with vinegar, a philosopher should add some salt, a profligate should add the oil, and an artist should mix the salad.


This is from a man who visualized how technology could change the world. He was an artist, a student of philosophy, physiology, and the humanities. He knew that science without an understanding of human nature was simply play with no useful purpose or meaning.

“La semplicità è l’ultima sofisticazione” - Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

-Leonardo Da Vinci


There’s so much truth to this saying. I love it! It embodies all the depth of being truly sophisticated. People are quick to equate luxury with sophistication. But it’s so far from that. :angel:t2:


Oh it is really nice to hear all of the Italian sayings and idioms. I will remember Basta, Basta should I go to Italy. I have an Aunt and 3 cousins that are in Italy now on vacation. They may be using that phrase!


Here in the Philippines we also have this kind of word ‘Basta’ in our dictionary. However it doesn’t have the same meaning with the Italian phrase. Basta or Basta, Basta (Repitition) actually means ‘just’ or ‘don’t worry’. However, thanks for sharing this kind of phrase. This would really help me when I’ll go to Italy specially that this phrase is very similar in form with our word. I’ll definitely use this.


“È il mio cavallo di battaglia” - It’s my battle horse or It’s my forte.
This phrase is used to indicate someone’s forte.

If you ever break up with someone and ask for advice from an Italian mamma this is what you get… “Chiodo scaccia chiodo!” - A nail drives out another nail. Which means You’ll get over it. This encouragement is normally used in painful love affairs.


I don’t know about Italian sayings, stories, or words of wisdom since in our school does not teach them. However, reading the replies of this conversation gave me more information or knowledge about Italy. Keep the ideas coming guys.


A wise saying from Galileo Galilei: Non puoi insegnare niente a un uomo. Puoi solo aiutarlo a scoprire ciò che ha dentro di sé, in English “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help find it within himself.”
You can only go so far when attempting to help someone learn. Let them figure it out from themselves.


Sounds neat. I imagine it being so convenient to have one word to express your wish for people not to worry. Bonus points because it doubles for saying “just 'cause.” :grinning:


Yes, exactly. The Flipino language actually has a lot of words that are similar in form and sometimes in meaning with Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and also Malay. I don’t know why but maybe because of how our country was very open to colonizers and visitors before that we adopted some of their words and made it our own. But I won’t complain since it is very helpful. :blush::wink:


I like that the Filipino language has lots of influence from other countries. It’s sort of a crossover language that encompasses different meanings and combines them to create a unique expression. :grinning:


Yeah, I think so. I actually think that before, humans had the same language but I guess because of the trend of voyaging and transferring from one place to another and the sudden earthquakes that separated the lands from the original continents, I guess that made the changes in to the languages of people around the world.


Actually, this also comes from the story of the Tower of Babel. Because of humans trying to reach heaven, God separated us through dividing our unity in terms of communication. How literary and true in life itself. :laughing:


Oh yeah, that’s exactly the story I was trying to remember since last night. Guess I’m having memory loss already because I can’t remember a lot of things anymore. And yeah, humans are too greedy and so God has to find a way in order for us to have mis-understandings because if we unite, we’ll definitely have no limits within us. We’ll try an do more things for them to be possible.