Quotes about Italy and Italians

A small selection of quotes about Italy and Italians, in several languages. I will keep adding to this list once I think of or discover new quotes or proverbs. The picture on the left is that of a typical Italian village, by the way.

Caput mundi (Latin) – The head of the world (of Rome). Also, Caput rerum (the head of things)

Chi lingua ha, a Roma va (It.) – He who has a tongue goes to Rome.

Hic ver assiduum atque alienis mensibus aestas (Latin ) –
Here it is one perpetual spring, and summer extends to months not properly her own. (About the climate of Italy) (Virgil, Georgics 2, 149)

Inglese Italianizato, Diavolo incarnato – An Italianized Englishman is a devil incarnate (Italian proverb)

Italia, Italia, O tu, cui, feo la sorte
Dono infelice di bellezza, ond’ hai
Funesta dote d’infiniti guai,
Che in fronte scritti per gran doglia porte;
Deh, fossi tu men bella, o almen più forte,
Onde assai più ti paventasse, o assai
T’amasse men chi dal tuo bello a’ rai
Par che si strugga, e pur ti sfida a morte
. (It.)

(Vincenzo Filicaia, 1642-1707)
poetic translation:

Italia, oh Italia! I Thou who hast
The fatal gift of beauty, which became
A funeral dower of present woes and past,
On thy sweet brow is sorrow ploughed by shame,
And annals graved in characters of flame.
Oh God! That thou wert in thy nakedness
Less lovely or more powerful, and couldst claim
Thy right, and awe the robbers back who press
To shed thy blood, and drink the tears of thy distress.

Lord Byron, Ch. Harold, 4, 42.

Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blüh’n? (German)
Know’st thou the land where the lemon-trees bloom? (Goethe, Mignon)

L’Italia farà da sè (Italian)- Italy will act by herself.  Motto of the Italian Revolution of 1849, expressing sentiments common during the process of the countries’ unification

Terra antiqua potens armis atque ubere glebae (Latin) — An ancient land powerful in arms and fertile in soil. (Virgil, Aeneid 1,531)

Vede Napoli, e poi muori (Italian) – See Napes and then die (Italian proverb)

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