Venetian Proverbs

For her first novel Carnevale, Michelle Lovric used one of these proverbs at the beginning of each chapter.  They have not been translated into English before, which is a pity, as they show another side of Venice – the earthy, humorous side that is refreshingly at odds with the traditional view of Venice as a dying, melancholic city.

Here are a few favourites … check the News page for new ones.



Inglese Italianizzato, Diavolo Incarnato.

Italianised Englishman, The Devil Incarnate.


La fame fa far dei salti, ma l’amor li fa far più alti.

Hunger makes you jump, but love makes you jump higher.


El leto xe ‘l paradiso dei poveri.

Bed is the heaven of the poor.


La fortuna l’è na vaca:

a chi la mostra el davanti e a chi el dadrio.

Fortune is like a cow:
to some she shows her good side; to others her backside.


Ocio de pesse lesso, inamorà o fesso.

Fisheyes – must be either in love or a half-wit.


Tuti quanti semo mati per quel buso che semo nati.

We all go mad for the hole from which we were born.

El primo pecà xe nasser desperà.

The first sin is to be born desperate.


Le done ga do scarsèle:
una per la làgreme, una per le busie.

Women have two pockets:
one for tears and one for lies.


Tute le volpe finisse dal pelisser.

All the foxes end up at the furriers.


Se se vol rider
bisogna discorer de merda.

If you want to be happy
you need to bullshit.



If you wish to make use of these proverbs, please acknowledge the translations as Michelle Lovric’s.



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