“Venice is also a dream,” sang Francesco Guccini in the 1980s. Many are the words, songs, and poems dedicated to the dreamy Venice enchanted by palaces, canals, and gondolas. The images connected to the Venice of proverbs tell, on the other hand, a more intimate and everyday view of the city, whose soul is in the people: the Venetians, their character and their relations with food, history and habits of the city.
These are just 7 of the most significant and widespread Venetian sayings:
coe ciacole no se impasta fritole
italian: con le chiacchiere non si impastano le frittelle
Pancakes, typical delicacies of the Carnival period, are not made with words but one must put one’s “hands to the dough” to make them. This proverb is a reminder that one needs to think about deeds and concrete actions more than words and chatter to get great results, such as tasty pancakes, and be productive.
vanti col Cristo che a procession se ingruma
italian: avanti col Cristo, altrimenti la processione si ferma
This proverb is related to the Catholic tradition: the Christ represents the crucifix carried in procession which is followed by the crowd of the faithful. It enjoins those in front leading the procession to move on quickly and hurry up so as not to create a crush among those behind. It is common to hear this proverb in the narrowest calli and most crowded areas of the city.
italian: brace coperta
This expression is very common and widespread and is used to refer to a person who seems shy, quiet but is instead lively and explosive. A person’s true character is hidden by appearance just as hot coals are covered by ashes: one must be careful not to get burned and to go beyond appearances.
un ponte e na cae
italian: un ponte e una calle
The calle corresponds to the street as the campo corresponds to the square: these are the basics of Venetian toponymy. The expression un ponte e na cae indicates proximity; it is used when referring to nearby, neighboring places that are within walking distance of each other. Asking for directions, it is easy to hear this answer, but it is often necessary to cross more than one bridge and one calle to reach your destination-that is the beauty of getting lost in Venice and really discovering it!
co’ rivo rivo
italian: quando arrivo arrivo
The expression is used to give oneself an appointment without agreeing on a specific time. The person who utters this phrase usually intends to arrive calmly and unhurriedly not having, in fact, any specific time to stick to.
ferma tuto che me par na sagra
italian: ferma tutto che mi sembra una sagra
This proverb is used to try to stop a very confusing situation (such as at festivals) or a very heated discussion that could generate havoc; the person who utters this phrase is often the person who wants to calm the waters, that is, calm everything and everyone.
duri i banchi
italian: tenetevi duri alle panche
The origin of the expression dates back to the era of the Serenissima and to sea battles during which, when ramming ships, oarsmen were enjoined to hold hard to the shoals of galleys to protect themselves during the impact. Today, this phrase, urging not to give up, is uttered to express support during a difficult time or to instill courage.
Milan, Florence, Venice, Rome and Taormina : in each city you go, you will discover creativity and musicality in the typical idioms of our Italian culture!
Discovering (because sometimes untranslatable in another language and more difficult to understand), playing and having fun with the idioms of our language will help you to live an even more unique and authentic experience in Italy!