Italian Sayings About Life, Expressions and Famous Proverbs

When it comes to sayings and proverbs in any language, you’ll find all sorts of them that have to do with life in general, including happiness, achievements, and success. These wise sayings, expressions, and proverbs help you determine what’s truly important in life and give you a different way to look at the world.

But when it comes to the beautiful Italian language specifically, you have to learn some of the most famous proverbs and sayings that deal with romance and religion. Those are just such essential parts of the Italian culture that they can’t go unexplored. So in this article, we’ve compiled a list of the best Italian phrases about life in general, romance, and religion.

So if you’re ready to learn some of the best Italian sayings about life, inspirational Italian expressions, and famous Italian proverbs, then let’s get started.

General Italian Proverbs About Life

Let’s take a look at some of the wisest and most beautiful Italian proverbs about life in general. These sayings will teach you about life, happiness, and friendship. 

A chi vuole, non mancano modi

English translation: Where there is a will, there is a way.

One of the best proverbs in any language, this goes to show that perseverance can get you through anything. Just keep trying. 

A chi dai il dito si prende anche il braccio

English translation: Give an inch and they’ll take a mile.

This Italian saying refers to how if you give someone a little bit of slack, they may take advantage of you and keep on taking. 

La troppa bonezza finisce nella monnezza

English translation: Too much goodness ends up in the trash.

That translation may seem a bit odd at first glance, but it boils down to the Italian version of saying, “nice guys finish last.” 

Ai mali estremi, estremi rimedi

English translation: Desperate times call for desperate measures.

A great saying in any language, this Italian proverb describes how as things get more dire, people will do whatever it takes to power through.

La famiglia è la patria del cuore

English translation: Family is where the heart is.

We typically say “home is where the heart is” in English, but the Italian version seems much more powerful and meaningful.

Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco

English translation: Not all donuts come out with a hole.

This old Italian favorite is really saying that things don’t always work out the way they are meant to, but don’t let that get you down. A donut is still delicious even without a hole!

Chi dorme non piglia pesci

English translation: Who sleeps catches no fish.

This is similar to the famous English saying, “you snooze, you lose.” Both of these sayings mean that if you don’t put yourself out there to accomplish something, you won’t be able to accomplish anything. 

Senza tentazioni, senza onore

English translation: Where there is no temptation, there is no glory.

To achieve true success, you will likely have to overcome a few obstacles along the way. There is no glory without being tempted to quit at these obstacles.

Far d’una mosca un elefante

English translation: To make an elephant out of a fly.

This saying is trying to say don’t make a big deal out of everything that happens. In the grand scheme of things, whatever the issue is likely isn’t the end of the world. 

La gatta frettolosa ha fatto i gattini ciechi

English translation: The hasty cat gave birth to blind kittens.

Although the translation for this one might seem a little on the strange side, it’s saying not to rush through things. You might find that in your haste, you messed something up. 

Non si può avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca

English translation: You can’t have a full cask and a drunk wife.

This one is similar to the English saying, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” meaning that you typically will not always get the best of both worlds and should sometimes just take what you can get.

Quando finisce la partita il re ed il pedone finiscono nella stessa scatola

English translation: When you finish the game, the king and the pawn end up in the same box.

When it’s all said and done, we all are equal after death. So don’t get too caught up in competing with your neighbor, just like the king and pawn go back to the same box.

Quando il gatto non c’è i topi ballano

English translation: When the cat is not there, the mice dance.

In other words, “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.” This means that when the authority figure is gone, the underlings will be far less serious than usual.

In vino veritas

English translation: In wine, there is truth.

Although this is technically Latin, Italians use it often to describe how drunk people tend to reveal the truth about things they might not say when they are sober.

Al povero mancano tante cose, all’avaro tutte

English translation: The poor man lacks many things; the greedy man all.

This old Italian proverb shows that greedy people are never satisfied, no matter how much they have.

O mangi questa minestra o salti dalla finestra

English translation: Either eat this soup or jump out of the window.

Mostly used by parents trying to get their children to eat something, this one is pretty self-explanatory!

Fatto trenta si può far trentuno

English translation: We did 30, let’s do 31.

This famous Italian proverb comes from Pope Leo X from the early 15th-century, who forgot to include someone while nominating new cardinals. He proclaimed this as he added the 31st name, and it’s used to express when more effort should be put towards something. 

Finché c’è vita c’è speranza

English translation: While there’s life, there’s hope.

As long as you’re still kicking and have life left in you, there’s always hope. So don’t give up. Always get back up when you’re down and keep on fighting.

La vita e come una fotografia. Se sorridi, viene meglio

English translation: Life is like a photograph. If you smile, it’s better. 

One of the best Italian proverbs we’ve seen, this saying is telling you to enjoy life. No matter what’s going on, take a second and just smile. Life is much better if you’re smiling and you’re happy. 

Chi trova un amico, trova un tesoro

English translation: He who finds a friend finds a treasure.

This is a beautiful way of describing how invaluable friends are, they really are a treasure. So if you find some true friends, hold on to them tightly.

Meglio tardi che mai

English translation: Better late than never.

This is a popular saying in many languages, including Italian and English, but it’s never too late to go out there and achieve your dreams. It’s better to achieve something a little later than never to achieve it at all.

Chi troppo vuole nulla stringe

English translation: Those who want too much end up getting nothing.

If you spend your whole life wanting more and more, you’ll never be satisfied with what you have. Take a moment to enjoy life and be grateful for everything that you have.

A caval donato non si guarda in bocca

English translation: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Don’t look for every fault or flaw in something that’s been given as a gift, be gracious in all that you receive.

Batti il ferro finché è caldo

English translation: Beat the iron while it’s hot.

This is one of our favorite Italian proverbs. It means to grasp every opportunity that you can while you have the chance to do so. Don’t let life slip through your fingers.

L’abito non fa il monaco

English translation: The clothes do not make the monk.

The Italian version of this saying may have changed the word “man” to “monk”, but the meaning remains the same. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Romantic Italian Sayings and Phrases

One of the globally accepted languages of love, you can’t read through Italian sayings and proverbs without getting some romantic ones in there too.

Ti amo

English translation: I love you.

The most basic of all romantic sayings but also one of the most powerful. But doesn’t it just sound even better when said in Italian? Ti amo.

Mi sono perso nei tuoi occhi

English translation: I’m lost in your eyes.

A romantic way of telling that special someone how incredible their eyes are. Getting lost in someone’s eyes means their beauty overtakes you.

Sei la cosa più bella che mi sia mai capitata

English translation: You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Another one that the translation pretty much explains, but telling someone that they’re the best thing that’s ever happened to you in Italian will make their heart melt.

Farei qualsiasi cosa per te

English translation: I would do anything for you.

Letting that special someone know that you’d be willing to do anything for them really lets them know how much you care about them. 

Voglio passare il resto della mia vita con te

English translation: I want to spend the rest of my life with you.

A wonderful thing to say in any language, adding the Italian language’s romantic nuances, makes saying this to someone even more special and romantic. 

Sei sempre nel mio cuore

English translation: You’re always in my heart.

Another one that just sounds so much better in Italian than it does in English, this is a great way to let that special someone know they’re always with you.

Il tuo sorriso e’il sole della mia vita

English translation: Your smile is the sunshine of my life.

This is one of the most beautiful ways to tell someone how much joy they bring you. If you tell them their smile is the sunshine of your life, they’ll know how much you just light up when you see them.

Amor tutti eguaglia

English translation: Love makes all equal.

This is an amazing way that Italians accept that love is stronger than almost anything else. Most people would give up everything for the ones they love, making us all equal.

Il primo amore non si scorda mai

English translation: True love never grows old.

A great Italian proverb, this one means that no matter how old you and your loved one gets, you can never outgrow the love you have for one another. 

Religious Italian Proverbs and Sayings

Religion is a major part of Italy’s culture, especially its rich history. So it only makes sense to include some of the most famous Italian proverbs that deal with God and religion.

A chi bene crede

English translation: God listens to those who have faith.

Put your faith in God, and God will listen to your prayers. Italians believe that if you trust in God above and pray to him, he will provide you with everything you need to succeed. 

Aiutati che Dio ti aiuta

English translation: Help yourself and God will help you.

This one is a great Italian proverb meaning that nobody, not even God himself, can help you until you help yourself. You always have to believe in yourself, or nobody else’s belief in you will resonate within. 

Da chi mi fido, mi guardi Dio, da chi non mi fido guarderò io

English translation: Let God protect me from those I trust, I’ll protect myself from those I don’t.

One of the wisest religious Italian proverbs out there means that you can protect yourself from those you don’t trust. But people who you do trust, you may not see it coming and need God’s help in protecting you from the ones you love.

Male prevede chi non provvede

English translation: God helps those who help themselves.

Similar to the one above about helping yourself, you need to do so before God will help you. This doesn’t mean God won’t help you, but you must be willing to accept his love and help, meaning you have to help yourself first.

Dare il diavolo ciò che gli spetta fe meglio

English translation: Give the devil his due.

This saying is common in many languages. It means accepting and appreciating everyone’s merits and positive qualities, even if it’s someone you don’t particularly like or care for.