Sicilian saying of the day: gossiping

Sicilian rock partridge

A pirnici canta tri voti io iornu e sempri a danno so

The partridge sings three times a day and always to his own disadvantage.

Another beautiful natural image, this time of a wild bird widely hunted throughout Sicily and seen as a metaphor for the unattractive habit of malicious human gossip.

Any suggestions for an english equivalent?


By the way the Sicilian rock partridge is native to Sicily.

Sicilian saying of the day: the humble jackass


Piazza Armerina, Enna

U sceccu porta sempri u barduni

A donkey always carries the load.

Yet another folk saying to do with the humble donkey, a symbol of hard work and stubbornness.

Simply put, a jackass will always be an ass.

Hummmm, a leopard doesn’t change its spots, simply doesn’t have the same directness does it!?!?

For the record a ‘barduni’ is a type of saddle especially made for donkeys to carry heavy weight and keep the animal from being distracted as they apparently can be quite feisty and single minded.




Sicilian saying of the day: Bad habits


Sicilian donkeys

U sceccu chi si mancia a fichera u viziu si lu lava quannu mori.

The donkey who eats figs is only rid of the habit when he dies.

The humble donkey used to be the work animal of choice in Sicily, able to carry heavy loads and negotiate the mountain terrain common on the island it was a source of pride of every farming family. But a donkey who ate the figs off the fig tree was a real pain as the precious fig was a major part of the Sicilian’s die,t dried out in the sun they were preserved and served as a valuable nourishment in the harsh winters of the last century.

So the Sicilian agricultural and natural world gives us this metaphor, someone who has a bad habit will never give it up.

A guess for an English equivalent … a leopard never changes it’s spots.




Sicilian’s flare for uttering profanities


When I was a child I had an Uncle who was terribly capricious, a real joker (he still is until this day) and he took great pleasure in teaching my brother and I all the colourful Italian swear words possible. 

My Uncle thought it was all terribly funny and hoped we’d use them in front of our mother who as a former primary school teacher would be appropriately shocked.

I recently read an article which suggested people who use swear words have down to earth, truthful and logical personalities and using bad language has nothing to do with being bad mannered as traditionally thought.

Cussing is really about being to the point and realistic and simply being rude. This is an interesting take on the subject and I have found people I know who use ‘colorful language’ are genuinely no nonsense types who cut through political correctness with a knife and get to the rough truth below ornamental politeness.

 COSI language collage

I’m not looking for an excuse to launch into a litany of four letter words but when it’s needed and apt ‘cuss’ can be more powerful than all the words in a thesaurus.

I have discovered Sicilians have a particular flare for inventing swear words, curses and such phrases, mixing everything with a pinch of blaspheme for good measure.


My education in vivid ‘Siculu’ cursing has come about thanks to the Sicilian men surrounding me, who could probably write many volumes dedicated to this particular lexicon!

I have heard swear words that are so offensive they would make a sailor blush, I have even heard women use particular words regularly which refer to male and female genitalia.

Sicilian and Italian swearing combines the holy and profane which kicks and spits out venom onto Saints, the Virgin Mary and God himself. I am not going to write any swears here but I will filter them to give you an idea of what I mean (people easily offended can skip the following paragraph.)

When things go wrong Sicilians curse the Saints and certain body parts (usually genitalia), the Madonna and certain animals (mostly pigs) and if they want to be particularly offensive it gets more personal with references to ‘your sisters privates.’

There I said it, I have never heard such colorful cuss words as here in Sicily, it’s ‘profanely’ confusing!

Thanks to the Sicilian’s curses I’ve learn the filthiest words possible about certain body parts, the names of animals, apparently animals with horns are particularly offensive as they refer to ‘cuckold’ men (an archaic term in English referring to a husband with an adulterous wife). Ridiculing Saints seems to be a popular way of insulting others and letting off steam when things are not going your way.





Images c/o: and