Italian expression of the day: ‘Piove sul bagnato’

Italian expression of the day: 'Piove sul bagnato'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Is 'raining on the wet' good or bad luck? It depends on how fortunate you are to begin with.

If it’s absolutely tipping it down, in English you might say, ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’ and the Italian equivalent would be, ‘Piove sul bagnato‘, meaning it’s raining on the wet.

Everything’s already soaked and it continues to rain. You get the imagery – it’s a very rainy and wet day indeed.

But this expression has more meaning behind it than expressing a rather grim day where the weather is concerned.

READ ALSO: Ten phrases to talk about cold and wet weather like a true Italian

In modern Italian, the saying is used to indicate that unpleasant events or, on the contrary, pleasant ones, happen to those who are already experiencing them in abundance.

So good luck will come to those who are already blessed by good fortune and, conversely, adversity befalls those who are already suffering misfortune.

In a positive sense, it can be compared to the English, ‘Fortune favours the fortunate’. An example of this would be someone who, after inheriting a large sum of money, also won the lottery.


Dopo avere ereditato una grossa somma di denaro, ha anche vinto alla lotteria. Beh, piove sul bagnato

After inheriting a large sum of money, he also won the lottery. Well, fortune favours the fortunate.

It can also be used in a negative sense if things aren’t going your way. A bit like the English expression, ‘It never rains, but it pours’ or ‘Misfortunes never come alone’.

READ ALSO: Popes, chickens and reheated soup: 15 everyday Italian idioms you need to know

I miei affari sono crollati, mia moglie mi ha lasciato e la banca si è ripresa la mia casa, tutto nel giro di un anno. Le disgrazie non arrivano mai da sole, a quanto pare.

My business collapsed, my wife left me, and the bank repossessed my home, all in the space of a year. Misfortunes never come alone, it seems.


If a friend listed all these terrible things that happened to them, you might say:

Piove sul bagnato. È proprio vero, che le disgrazie non vengono mai sole

It never rains but it pours. You’re really having a run of bad luck.

But can we change our fortunes? That’s a question pondered for millennia, but it never hurts to wish someone good luck with a friendly ‘In bocca al lupo‘.

So try your luck and give this Italian phrase a go this week.

Do you have a favourite Italian word, phrase or expression you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

Member comments

  1. Love your word translations, as there are so many that are not common and yet so descriptive of the actions. Thank you for these great translations.\

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