Calabrese Proverbs by Month: March

I love proverbs in any language, but there’s nothing more pleasing to my ears than Calabrese proverbs…and man do they love to talk about the weather.

Here are three you’re likely to hear around Badolato throughout this month, the first two in dialect, the last in Italian:

Badolatese: ‘U friddu ‘i Marzu trapàna u cornu do voi.
Italiano: Il freddo di Marzo penetra nel corno del bue.
English literal: The cold of March pierces the ox’s horns.
English loose: When it’s cold in March, you’ll freeze your arse off.

One more basic and to the point:

  • Badolatese: Marzu è pacchiu.
  • Italiano: Marzo è pazzo.
  • English: March is crazy.

And to elaborate on that point:

Italiano: Arriva marzo pazzerello; esce il sole e prendi l’ombrello!
English: Here comes crazy March; the sun comes out and you grab your umbrella!

It is true. March weather really does tend to be rather pazzo. It seemed to start in February this year with several days of both sunshine and rain, so we’ll see what this year brings. So far so good!

What are your favorite proverbs (in any language)?

28 Beans of Wisdom to “Calabrese Proverbs by Month: March”
  1. Gil

    Beautiful photo! It won’t be long before we have some around here. Although the last few days have been cold and raw.

    Thanks Gil; those flowers have actually been around throughout February. Guess they’re strong little suckers! We had *so* much wind!

  2. casalba

    The sun has come out up here – at last! So far it looks as though we won’t be “freezing our arses off”. You made me think of the Mad March Hare – linking back to your Alice in Wonderland post.

    Yes! The new movie comes out soon, apparently….

  3. 03.01.2010

    I also love your photo! We are definitely experiencing some crazy weather here. Not yet March (40 mins to go) but yesteray with the Tsunami warning and now today we are under a high wind alert. It is supposed to be very windy all week long. Thank you for your concern yesterday. We were very lucky to escape the damage that could have been done if the tsunami waves/surge ending up being as large as they predicted. I hope you have a very mellow March.

    I was so happy to see the tsunami weren’t nearly as bad as they thought they might be. Phew!

  4. 03.01.2010

    I love those old Italian sayings. When I was little and my mother used an old fashioned curling iron (the kind you had to heat on the stove) and she would occasionally burn my scalp she used to say something like: “Per Bellire, bisogna soffrire” or for those who don’t speak Italian – “To be beautiful, you have to suffer.”

    Haha, love it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. 03.01.2010

    Hi Michelle,

    I really enjoyed this post. Some of my favourite Calabrian proverbs are

    1) “Chine va chiagghnju, va luntanu.” – He who goes slow (or is careful) will go far.
    (My nonna Bettina in Calabria used to say this all the time).

    2) “Fatt’ i la fari tui ca campi chjiu vecchjiu.” – Mind your own business and you’ll grow old.
    (My dad says this all the time.)

    3) “Chine se guardau, se sarvau.” – He who took care of himself, saved himself.
    (My mom and nonne used to say this all the time.)

    4) “Comu a giri e a voti, e’ sempre cucuzza.” – Any way you turn it, it is always a pumpkin.
    (Mom says this all the time.)

    5) “Megghjiu nui ca u re.” – Better us then the king.
    (My dad says this all the time after a satisfying meal, which is after every meal. LOL)

    And the list goes on and on. Thanks for sharing this post. I hope you do more in the future. Definitely something I enjoy. 🙂

    Love them Rosa! I’ll dig up some more soon 🙂

    .-= Rosa´s last blog ..Königsberger Klopse (Meatballs in a White Wine-Caper Sauce) =-.

  6. 03.01.2010

    i love the one
    about a man walking into a bar with a jar of nutella…


    that is a joke!

    never mind.


    {{ i love popping in over here!
    was looking for the little goat, actually.
    i wonder if there is a proverb about goats… }}

    Goats play a big part in traditions around here, so there are quite a few caprine proverbs (in Calabrese, “la capra” becomes, unfortunately, “la crapa”) BUT there is also a popular tongue twister with the goat:

    “Sopra la panca la capra campa; sotto la panca la capra crepa.” (“On the bench, the goat lives; under the bench, the goat dies.”)

    Now, five times fast!

    .-= somepinkflowers´s last blog ..why does this always happen? =-.

  7. 03.01.2010

    Oh wow. I collect them…but this one always makes me laugh when I espy my cat ‘tracking me’ in the apt. (I heard it a lot in North Africa & the MEast):

    “The cat was created when the lion sneezed.” (Arabic, country of origin–they argue about it. Of course, they do.)

    ciao-meow & Happy St. David’s Day to any of Welsh descent (or not!)

    Haha, that’s great; I’ve never heard that! Never heard of St. David’s Day either…must investigate….
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Once Upon a Time, a St. David’s Day in Italy =-.

  8. 03.01.2010

    Michelle, I love proverbs. They are so out of use now, but I remember them from my mother and we even learned some at school. Great post. I might even sit down and write one about greek proverbs!

    Yes, please do, and let me know where to find them 🙂

  9. 03.01.2010

    I loved reading the proverbs in dialect, Michelle! My husband’s younger sister remembers their Mother used to say so many of them when they were growing up. My husband doesn’t remember them very well, and my sister-in-law was only five years old when they immigrated to the US so she never learned to read or write Italian and therefore she can only share what she remember orally.

    I will have to copy these down and send them to her.

    Of course my favorite American March proverb is “In like a lamb, out like a Lion” (and visa versa) which sums up that March is a month of crazy weather everywhere!

    Today we are having lamb weather and some of the foot and a half of snow we got here in NYC on Friday is melting!

    Writing them phonetically will still do the trick, Pat; I remember when I was younger, I wrote down where my grandmother said our family was from in Italy just by the way it sounded…I found that paper not too long ago. Too funny to see it–and now know how to spell it 😉

  10. Lisa

    Meglio celibe che mal sposato. (Better single than unhappily married)

    So true 😀

  11. Jozet at Halushki

    I don’t know if I have any favorite proverbs, but I have the following taped to our bathroom mirror: What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?

    And it gets me through most days. Even blustery March days.

    LOVE that Jozet; thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. 03.02.2010

    Tonino Violi in the village of Santa Cristina has written a whole book of saying “cristinese” from Santa Cristina D’Aspromonte – my favourite is: Nuju poti diciri: “i st’acqua non ndi vogghju mbiviri”! = nessuno puo dire: di questa’acqua non voglio bere”!
    Nu Cunzigghju i fimmana pocu vali, ma cu n’o senti no nd’avi sali! = un consiglio di donna vale poco, ma chi non lo ascolta no ha sale in testa!
    and the last one:
    Oji in figura, domani in sepurtura! = oggi in figura, domani in sepoltura, oggi vivo, domani morto.
    no no this is my favourite:
    Se tutto vai bene, siamo rovinati 🙂

    I just love the phrase “siamo rovinati” so much…so dramatic…so Italian…”We’re ruined!!!!” 🙂 Thanks for sharing these, Jo!

  13. Dave

    I wanted to comment so I cheated and looked at your other link… “Ama l’omu toi cu i vizii soi.” and “A megghju palora esta chija chi no nesci.” Completely believe in them both, especially for my wife’s sake.

    Ton of faults here but somehow I found a great woman and I’m probably better off that she doesn’t say everything she thinks with the kinds of things I do. For example I rationalized to both myself and Jess that buying $100 in Bar B Que Sauce and having it shipped from the US to where I’m deployed to in Afghanistan was a good idea. Umm, somehow I don’t think the Commander liked the Bar B Que slip and slide we made from the exrta sauce but God Bless Jess, she never did anything but laugh about it.

    Haha, great to know you haven’t lost your sense of humor even in a war zone 😀 Stay safe!

  14. 03.02.2010

    I speak Spanish and I have a couple of favorites, but they are mostly things you say about other people, rather than phrases that say something about life. One I like: “Tu eres en el medio como el jueves.” Literally, “You’re in the middle like Thursday,” which is basically the equivalent of “You make a better door than a window” in English. But I think it’s funny that it’s Thursday and not Wednesday. The other I love is “Tu eres como un pulpo en el garaje.” Literally, “You’re like an octopus in the garage.” Meaning, you don’t fit in. In English we would say, “You’re a square peg in a round hole,” right?

    Yes! Oh my Kendra, I love those! I wonder if the Wed/Thurs thing is b/c over here calendars (and therefore weeks) start on Monday not Sunday? Very confusing for those of us who have seen Sunday starting calendars their whole lives…. 😉 Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. I can’t think of any at the moment, my brain is simply worn out, but I love the ones you posted. Very true whether in Italy or Ohio!

    Haha, I can certainly understand the brain thing…if you think of any, I’m here 🙂

    .-= Michelle @ Italian Mama Chef´s last blog ..Pizza, pizza and more pizza! =-.

  16. 03.03.2010

    Love the culture-spanning parallels. Rosa’s “Any way you turn it, it is always a pumpkin” is “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” or thereabouts.

    And “Il freddo di Marzo penetra nel corno del bue / ‘U friddu ‘i Marzu trapàna u cornu do voi” is, in Yorkshire English, “March is proper brass monkeys”.

    (Translation being “brass monkeys” —> cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey —> ).

    My favourite phrase in English is “Eagles May Soar, But Weasels Don’t Get Sucked Into Jet Engines”. Which doesn’t have much of a history behind it, for obvious reasons, but has a *glowing* future if I have anything to do with it. 😉

    Englishisms/Britishisms are always more entertaining than Americanisms…proper brass monkeys and weasels! LOVE!!!!

    .-= Mikeachim´s last blog ..The Big List Of Fevered Mutterings (2009-2010) =-.

  17. 03.03.2010

    My neighbors are very lackadaisical about teaching me detti. I have been teaching them the one about “If March comes in like a lion, she goes out like a lamb, etc.” They never remember it from one year to the next, so my very small supply of detti americani may last forever.

    Yeah I’ve found asking people to teach me things like this doesn’t get far…they need to be spur of the moment type things, but then who remembers them? I have a book 🙂

  18. 03.03.2010

    Ciao! una delle mie espressioni preferite e’ “Cadere dal pero” che significa di essere molto stupito, molto sorpreso. Immagino che sia simile a “You could have knocked me over with a feather”.

    One of my favorite expressions is: “To fall out of a pear tree” that means to be very surprised. I guess is it similar to “you could have knocked me over with a feather.

    Un’altra che mi piace: “La fortuna e’ cieca, ma la sfiga ci vede benissimo” Good luck is blind, but bad luck sees very well”

    Magari stamattina la mia fortuna cambiera’ con la prima tazza di caffe – forte! Ti auguro una buona giornata! Melissa

    Wonderful sayings, Melissa! Thank you for stopping by and sharing 🙂 Buona giornata anche a te!

    .-= Melissa Muldoon´s last blog ..• la malafemmena ritorna a Capri =-.

  19. 03.03.2010

    Sometimes a visit to your blog is like a visit to Grandma’s house.
    Today is one of those visits.
    Enjoyed your post and all the comments.
    Ciao bella.

    So wonderful to know that, Frances; thank you 🙂

    .-= Frances´s last blog ..a mosaic about me =-.

  20. 03.03.2010

    My husband has been speaking more Milanese dialect in the house now that we have kids. Some of his favourites are food-related, like “O te mangiet la minestra o te saltet la finestra” which is the translation of the Italian “O mangi la minestra o salti la finestra” (Either you eat this or nothing at all) or the short but effective “Mangia e tas!” (shut up and eat!).

    Haha, I’ve heard the window one here, but never anything in Milanese dialect…interesting!

    .-= Milanese Masala´s last blog ..Sorry, eh! =-.

  21. 03.03.2010

    25 years in and out of Italy (Alto Lazio), and you would think I would understand a at least a little Calabrese ;-)…. man non ho capito per niente!

    Oh it’s a whole other world down here, Michael 😉 Thanks for coming by!

    .-= Michael Kovnick´s last blog ..In Search of the Perfect Espresso =-.

  22. 03.04.2010

    How true! Actually, I did spend a few months down there in Gioiosa Ionica, but the only Calabrese that stuck with me was that to call a person, you must cut the name down to the first vowel and attach an ‘O’ at the beginning. As such, to call me over, one would say ” O’Mai “. Then I settled in Alto Lazio where I was simply ” Maicol ” 🙂

    Haha, ogni tanto sono “Miscela” 😉

    .-= Michael Kovnick´s last blog ..In Search of the Perfect Espresso =-.

  23. 03.05.2010

    Ugh! Calabrese is sooo difficult. I don’t understand a thing, even though my man grew up there. More than proverbs, we use a lot of insults. I may be partial there, but nothing comes as near as being offensive and full of creativity as an Italian insult, and some of the best in my opinion do come from Calabria – unfortunately, nothing that I can share with any anti spam filter 😉

    However there is a sweet story related to dialect I have to tell – we have a very dear friend, who comes from Argentina, but whose grandparents came from Calabria. He does understand Italian but he does not speak it very well, though, weirdly enough, he asked my man about some expressions he remembers from his granma .. pure calabrese! so funny!

    Hahaha…I know *exactly* where you’re coming from 😀 Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here!

    .-= Caffettiera´s last blog ..Breakfast time =-.

  24. nuccia

    “Marzu è pacchiu” has always been one of my mother’s favourite sayings. Must remember to call her tomorrow!

    Yes Nuccia, call! Thanks for coming by 🙂

  25. 03.10.2010

    March is always a crazy month in England too. It’s sometimes called “Mad March”

    Yes! Perfect for a Mad Hatter 😉

    .-= Jenny Woolf´s last blog ..And what about this for a Cheshire Cat – Croft on Tees =-.

  26. Valentino Cerminara

    I left calabria at 6 years of age [to move to Australia…48 years ago ] so the spelling will not be right but here goes…my dad says “Voi fa credire ca il chucho anchana il cheraso” ……or translated “You want me to believe the donkey climbed the cherry tree”….or more to the point I think you are talking rubbish….or BS.
    I will try the fava spread recipe later this week.

    Gotcha Valentino! That *is* a great one 🙂

  27. Jess Perino

    My father always said, “What you don’t have in your head, you make up for in your heels.” Meaning that people should plan ahead to save trips–this was reflective a very working-man, common sense, straight-forward approach.
    He would have loved, “You want me to believe the donkey climbed the cherry tree.”
    He had some pretty strong feelings (and words) about the rich, about waste vs. generosity, working hard and about falsity/mendacity in general.
    I would love to hear more.

    Thanks for commenting Jess! You remind me I have to post some more soon 🙂

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake