Tuscany is a region rich with wine, food, and history so it should come as no surprise that it has so many of its very own wine related proverbs! Here’s a small collection of just some of them. For other Italian proverbs involving food or wine, take a look at my previous post: Fun with Italian Wine Proverbs.
Un canestro d’uva non fa vendemmia.
Literally= A basket of grapes doesn’t make/mean a harvest.
Meaning: This seems rather close to the English proverb “One swallow doesn’t a summer make.” In other words, don’t get too excited or assume too much too fast.
A chi piace il bere, parla sempre di vino.
Literally= Those who like to drink, always speak about wine.
Meaning: As far as I have understood, this is a pretty straightforward proverb. But part of me wonders if it isn’t also poking some fun at the fact that wine makes people talk more!
Chi semina buon grano, ha poi buon pane; chi semina il lupino, non ha né pan né vino.
Literally= He who plants good grain will then have good bread; he who plants a little wolf will have neither bread nor wine.
Meaning: The word “lupino” can mean either a little wolf or lupin beans. This pun works out well, because in both cases- whether you plant lupin instead of grain or grapes or plant a wolf who will eat it all – you will end up breadless and wineless. Perhaps it’s similar in meaning to the English “You reap what you sow”.
Chi vuole tutta l’uva non ha buon vino.
Literally= He who wants all of the grapes doesn’t have good wine.
Meaning: In some ways this is a proverb on patience, using the metaphor of allowing grapes to ripen fully before picking. It suggests to not pick all your grapes (out of fear someone might steal some of them) before they are ready lest your wine turn out bad and endeavor less successful. Closest English proverb I can think of is “Slow and steady wins the race”.
Il vino nel sasso, ed il popone nel terren grasso.
Literally= Wine in the stone, and melon in the fertile land.
Meaning: Grapevines are typically grown in less fertile soil (sometimes stoney or gravely too) in order to encourage less foliage and more berries. Melons on the other hand need fertile soil. Quite simply a proverb about each thing having its proper place.
Poca uva, molto vino; poco grano, manco pane.
Literally= Few grapes, lots of wine; little grain, short of bread.
Meaning: A little wine can be enough but a little bread finishes fast (and won’t be enough). I can’t think of an English equivalent.
Vigna al nuvolo fa debol/poco vino.
Literally= Vines under the clouds make weak/little wine.
Meaning: Too little sun doesn’t ripen grapes properly and lower quality or amounts of wine can result. Perhaps one could use this metaphorically, for example if someone were to say that the government has cut money for education, I might use this proverb to suggest that funding (the sun) education for our children (the vines) is key to creating a better future (wine) for us all.
Se piove per San Barnabà, l’uva bianca se ne va; se piove mattina e sera, se ne va la bianca e la nera.
Literally= If it rains for [the feast day of] St. Barnabas, the white grapes will go away; if it rains day and night, they’ll go away the white and the black [grapes].
Meaning: St. Barnabas’ feast day is June 11th, which is an important time during the grape growing season. White grapes are more delicate and would be the first to go with a little bad weather (=rain and hail), while consistent bad weather might destroy both white and black grapes.
Chi ha vigna ha tigna.
Literally= He who has vines [also] has ringworm.
Meaning: Rather than literally ringworm, this proverb speaks of an annoyance that inevitably comes with something that requires as much work and care as a vine. In other words, he who has vines also has a lot of discomfort and worrying (and physical discomfort too that accompanies such work). Might be something like the English proverb “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”