You can't punch your way into heaven. Proverbs of Sicily – The Gold Scales
Site Map
"You can't punch your way into heaven" and Other Proverbs of Sicily
Section › 7   Set    Search  Previous Next

Reservations   Contents    

Boxer, showcasing Sicilian proverbs

136 Proverbs of Sicily

Here is a selection of proverbs from Sicily, rendered in English. Sicily is a large Italian island in the Mediterranean, with a very rich history. Normans settled there too, with Palermo as their capital.


A good old man is better than a bad young man.

A man without money seems half sick.

A new doctor is a plague on the country.

A secretive person is up to some mischief.

A silent woman is a good woman.

A son who is a priest is the wealth of a house.

A trusted friend is a priceless treasure.

A useless watch dog barks but stays far away.

A very rich man [can be] astute.

A well-run old business hardly needs advertising [Mod].

A woman in her thirties, throw her into the sea.

Although there's a new love, the old love can't be forgotten.

An honest wife is a treasure that lasts. [Partial]

An old disease is difficult to cure [Mod].

Around and around, the moth dies in the candle flame.

As long as you don't trust, you won't be cheated.

At fifty a man is either the Pope or a fool.

At the blacksmith's don't touch [Partial].

Being overweight is being halfway sick.

Believe half of what you hear about wealth and holiness. If you believe less, you'll do better.

Believe only a little of what you see and nothing that you hear.

Believe only half of what's recounted, the less you believe, the better it could be for you [Mod].

Better not fight with someone who has nothing to lose [Mod].

Both water and fire need to be treated with respect.

Confessions without contrition, and prayers without intentions can be time lost. [Mod]

Do nothing and nothing will be known, perhaps. [Mod].

Do what you have to do and don't watch [so much] what others do.

Dogs bark and oxen graze.

Dogs that bark, protect you.

Don't be foolish and awe struck, because foolishness is telling but cursing doesn't hit home.

Don't buy houses near convents nor dwellings near abbeys.

Don't give away what you need for yourself.

Don't go to the doctor for every malady, nor to the lawyer for every disagreement, nor to the fountain for every thirst.

Don't harvest grass that you don't recognize.

Don't make friends with monks and soldiers.

Don't tell your friend everything that you know; remember that one day you may have him for an enemy.

Drink coffee while it's hot enough to make you swear but let the chocolate cool.

During an epidemic doctors are happy.

Earning encourages diligence.

For women the highest state is the married state.

Gold attracts a crowd.

Happy are those who are well born, but happier are those who have a good death.

He knows not all who doesn't help himself. [Mod]

Health flows from the happiness of the heart.

Hunger can be the best sauce [Mod].

If the cowherd doesn't have fodder, he ends up without oxen and without bread [Partial].

If you don't know at twenty, don't do at thirty, don't have at forty, you may not know, do, or have quite [Mod]

If you don't want anyone to take your place, don't ever show that you're frightened.

If you want to live to be old you need to start early.

In the countryside eat cardoon, because at the castle you'll eat pigeon.

In the head of the pig there's something to take and something to leave; in the head of the rabbit there's nothing to leave and nothing to take.

In youth we need to save for what old age will bring.

Inexperienced young men: Stay away from women and you'll be better off.

It's better to have many pleasures than many troubles [Very modified].

Keep up with the times, don't stay in the dark.

Knowledge is no match for luck.

Latin hides the stupidity of the priest.

Listen to the old and don't be mistaken [Mod].

Love [hardly] listens to advice.

Love without pain is not to be found anywhere.

Make your testimony and confessions while you're eating sausages and macaroni.

Many a honourable man lives in difficulty. [Mod]

Night time sleep counsels man.

No one does something for nothing.

No one will steal it from you if they don't know you have it.

Nobility is less esteemed when it lacks wealth.

One beautiful day doesn't make a summer.

One sins and is enthroned, another sins and is crucified.

One who believes everything he's told is as naive as one who fetches water with a sieve.

Owning land [can be] like fighting a war.

Perhaps a wounded heart never heals [Mod].

Priests dressed in black bring bad tidings, in white they take you to the cemetery.

Putting hope in a monk, is like trying to catch the wind in a net.

Raising children engenders love.

Safeguard the flock that is grazing on the mountain.

Seek goodness and expect evil.

Some headaches call for soup [Mod].

Stay within your level of competence.

Strike while the iron is hot.

Take advice from the prudent and you [may] never regret it.

The Church never gives anything away.

The devil laughs when the poor donates to the rich.

The door is always open to the bearer of gifts.

The good sailor is proven in a storm.

The June bee portends lots of honey.

The kid goat no longer suffers when the wild pear has blossomed.

The latecomer is valued as nothing.

The lie of the millionaire is more believed than the truth of the beggar.

The more you have, the more you want.

The more you know the less you believe.

The poor is not [very much] believed.

The service is rendered, the goods awaited.

To have security, plan ahead.

Today to me, tomorrow to you, we're all in it together.

Weapons can be of little use to the fearful [Mod]

We're many rivers from the same water.

When a rich man caresses a poor man, he's going to take advantage of him.

When everything is going smoothly, a man tends to get cocky.

When it's seen, there's [little] need for proof.

When loves knocks, be sure to answer.

When the olive tree blooms during April, olives are harvested with barrels, when it blossoms in June, they are harvested in handfuls.

When you have money you live happily, when you don't you lose some friends [Mod].

When you have, you are.

When you lose friends, you go down many steps.

When you see many dogs at a bone, it's best to make yourself scarce.

When you're enjoying prosperity, be wary of adversity.

When you're invited, eat heartily, because if they like you they'll laugh, and if they don't like you they'll feel the pangs of death.

Where there are monks and priests, there is adultery and beatings.

Where you're not known, you're judged by your appearance.

Who can't help, listens in vain.

Who chooses a wife based on the dowry, will have a painful life.

Who doesn't approach with disbelief, won't see the face of paradise.

Who doesn't intend to pay, signs any contract.

Who doesn't listen to reason, can't do things with reason.

Who fails to show [some] restraint in their youth, will be miserable in their old age.

Who falls into poverty loses his friends.

Who gets married will be happy for a day, who butchers a pig will be happy for a year.

Who hopes for alms from the priests, ends up in the funny farm.

Who likes you well will come to your house.

Who loses honour won't ever find it.

Who makes excuses without being accused, shows his guilt.

Who preaches to the deaf wastes the sermon.

Who takes cover under the branch, collects what rains and collects what falls.

Whoever exchanges some lard for some other lard, one or the other must be rancid.

Whoever goes to Palermo and doesn't see Monreale, goes there a jackass and returns a fool.

With a good farm, garden and vineyard, all your problems will be cured.

Words are for reasoning.

You can tell an educated person by his talk, and bells by their ringing.

You can't punch your way into heaven.

You get work from the young and advice from the old.

You need firm care to cure deep melancholy.

You need four men to make a good salad: a crazy man to mix it, a scholar for the salt, a miser for a touch of vinegar, and a squanderer for the oil.

You never get enough of kissing a sweetheart or eating snails.

You[ could] become a lot better if you think about your death.

Your word is your bond.

You're never too old to learn.


Proverbs of Sicily, Sicilian proverbs, Literature  

Dieli, Arthur V., oms. Sicilan Proverbs. 2013. Online.

Pitrè, Guiseppe. Proverbi siciliani. Palermo: Luigo Pedone Lauriel, 1880.

Quattrocchi, Vito. Sicilian Proverbs and Sayings. Suburban Enterprises, 2007.

Special Dictionary. 1234 Famous Sicilian Proverbs. Online.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

Proverbs of Sicily, Sicilian proverbs, To top    Section     Set    Next

Proverbs of Sicily, Sicilian proverbs. User's Guide   ᴥ    Disclaimer 
© 2004–2019, Tormod Kinnes, MPhil [Email]