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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian expression of the day: ‘Piove sul bagnato’

Is 'raining on the wet' good or bad luck? It depends on how fortunate you are to begin with.

Italian expression of the day: 'Piove sul bagnato'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

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.

via GIPHY

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.

via GIPHY

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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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian expression of the day: ‘Gita fuori porta’

No Italian summer would be complete without this phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Gita fuori porta'

As far as Italian summer traditions go, there’s only one thing more quintessentially Italian than the ‘pennica, the post-lunch nap which people from all corners of the country seem to effortlessly slip into with flawless poise and clockwork timing. That one thing is the ‘gita fuori porta’.

You might have already heard the expression on a couple of occasions, but don’t worry if you haven’t. Now that Ferragosto, Italy’s most deeply felt summer holiday, is only a few days away, listen out for it in your next conversation with Italians.

READ ALSO: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

So before we get into the ins and outs of how the ‘gita fuori porta’ works, what exactly does this phrase mean?

At first glance, the most logical translation might appear to be something like ‘a trip out of the door’. But the word ‘porta’ here has nothing to do with front doors (or houses, for that matter) as it refers instead to a city’s main entry gate.

To this day, the boundaries of most Italian towns are marked by ancient protective walls, generally dating back to Roman or medieval times. Though these walls no longer serve their original purpose, in many cases a town or city centre is still accessed via a number of gates, or ‘porte’.

So, a ‘gita fuori porta’ is a particularly Italian way of describing a trip out of town, whether that be to the seaside, in the countryside or in the mountains. 

Ti va di fare una gita fuori porta questo weekend?

Non troppo, tesoro. Fa troppo caldo.

Do you fancy a trip out of town this weekend?

Not really, honey. It’s too hot.

Marco e Maria stanno organizzando una gita fuori porta. Cosa ne pensi di unirti a loro?

Va bene, a patto che lo scegliamo noi il ristorante questa volta.

Marco and Maria are organising a trip out of town. What do you say we join them?

Okay, as long as we pick the restaurant this time around.

But what’s so special about a trip out of town done the Italian way?

Regardless of whether it’s a family trip or a trip with friends, the gita has a precise set of features that all Italians seem to be aware of from a very young age, almost as though  information on how to execute the proper gita came embedded in their own genetic setup.

Firstly, a gita is intended as a day trip, leaving no later than 10am and returning home by dinner time. Secondly, the journey to the chosen destination is always of short or medium length (i.e. rarely longer than two or two and half hours) and is made by car or motorcycle.  

Last but not least, the gita is always a hugely important social event and the smooth unfolding of the trip is seen as vitally important. As such, a number of rituals precede the days and hours before the momentous getaway.

These include: anxiously looking at weather forecasts and updates starting from over a week before the trip; concocting detailed back-up plans “just in case the weather experts get it wrong”; and finally, meticulously reading the reviews of any bar, restaurant or trattoria in a 50-kilometre radius of the chosen destination.

So, should you be tempted to join a trip all’italiana (Italian-style), make sure you do all of the above.

You might also hear the term ‘scampagnata’ used instead of ‘gita fuori porta’. 

Though the term may suggest otherwise – ‘campagna’ means countryside in Italian – ‘scampagnata’ has exactly the same meaning as ‘gita fuori porta’, thus referring to all possible sorts of day trip, not just those to the countryside.

Faremo una scampagnata ad Asolo per Ferragosto.

Ah, bello. Merita veramente una visita.

We’ll be in Asolo for Ferragosto.

Oh, nice. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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