Si lavora, si fatica
per la fabbrica dell'appetito.

A loose translation that captures this saying's partial rhyme might be...

You labour, you toil
under hunger's rule.

But literally "la fabbrica dell'appetito" means "the appetite factory" (i.e. your stomach or body in general). Pretty grim sentiment - we are employees of our stomachs!

A good saying to help you remember the impersonal si (si lavora, si fatica) and the contracted articles (di + l' = dell'). Ciao for now!


che colpa ha il gatto

Che colpa ha il gatto se il padrone è matto.

A loose translation might be, "Don't blame the cat if the owner is crazy." In English we might say, "Don't shoot the messenger." The idea being not to blame someone for someone else's bad.

Grammatically there's not much to learn from this one other than the idiomatic "avere colpa di" (to be guilty of, at fault, to blame for). Though mainly you just use a possessive - "Non è colpa mia," rather than, "Non ho colpa." Or the "di of possession" - Non è colpa di nessuno (It's no one's fault, no one's to blame).


chi si è scottato

Chi si è scottato con la minestra calda, soffia sulla fredda.

This one's by the great napoletano philosopher Benedetto Croce. Literally it means, "Those who scald themselves with hot soup, blow on the cold." I guess a good English equivalent would be, "Once bitten, twice shy."

This one will help you remember that reflexives (scottarsi - to scald oneself) get conjugated with essere in the passato prossimo (si è scottato).


si stava meglio

Si stava meglio quando si stava peggio.

"We were better off when we were worse off." A sentiment often expressed nel Sud about pre-Risorgimento (unification) times. Newfies say the same thing about Confederation. Which brings to mind a proverb that appeared in an earlier post - Tutt'il mondo è paese!

This proverb will help you remember the impersonal si, the imperfect (imperfetto), and the irregular comparatives for the adverbs bene (meglio) and male (peggio).


chi ha la lingua

Chi ha la lingua va in Sardegna.

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease." Those who speak up go far. Another interpretation might be, "Those who know languages go far." So keep studying!


un lavoro fatto bene

Un lavoro fatto bene è un lavoro fatto bene la prima volta.

A job well done is a job well done the first time.


chi vive sol per sé

Here's another Italian proverb from Toronto's most popular Italian lessons. Ciao for now!

Nacque per nulla chi vive sol per sé.

"Those who live for themselves were born for nothing."


impara l'arte

Impara l'arte e mettila da parte.

Learn a trade and you got it made.


il buon giorno

Il buon giorno si vede dal mattino.

"You can tell what the day is going to be like from the morning." In other words, the key to a good finish is a good start.


la bugia

La bugia ha le gambe corte.

"Lies have short legs." The implication being they don't get very far before they're uncovered. (Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.)


tra moglie e marito

Tra moglie e marito non mettere il dito.

"Don't meddle in the lives of husbands and wives." (Literally don't put a finger between them.) In-laws take heed!



Finché c'è vita, c'è speranza.

"As long as there's life, there's hope." It's not over till it's over. Only death is incurable. That type of thing!


una parola

Una parola è troppa e due sono poche. "One word is too many and two are too few." When there aren't words for what you want to say. When words escape you. Or when it just wouldn't be tactful to say something. I guess a similar saying in English might be, "Some things are better left unsaid."

la pentola

I guai della pentola li conosce il mestolo.

Only the ladle knows the troubles of the pot. (Appearances can be deceiving. Things often look better from the outside than they really are.)


tra pene e affanni

Tra pene e affanni passano gli anni.

Between pains and worries the years go by.


chi dorme

Chi dorme non piglia pesci.

This is an easy one to find an English equivalent for: The early bird catches the worm. (Literally, "Those who sleep don't get the fishes.")

So when you're in Italy, and you want to get an early start on a day of sightseeing, and your travel mates are sleeping in, tell them, "Chi dorme non piglia pesci." Ciao for now!


chi si contenta

Chi si contenta gode.

Those who content themselves with things, enjoy them.

The idea is to take things as they come and make the best of them. It's not things themselves that make you happy, but your attitude towards them. At least that's my interpretation!


questa minestra

O questa minestra o ti getti dalla finestra!

Either this soup or you throw yourself out the window! In other words, "Take it or leave it!"


morire sazio

E' meglio morire sazio che digiuno.

[It's better to die full than on an empty stomach.]


chi fa da sé

Chi fa da sé, fa per tre.

[Your own efforts are worth three times the efforts of others. "If you want something done right, do it yourself."]