Proverbi Abruzzesi – 3 – Power struggles


Scottish Enlightenment

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve had time to think about this blog. My head’s been full of all sorts of other stuff, like Scotland nearly becoming independent and the reawakening of a nation to claim its identity and voice within the United Kindgom. Oh and work too.  There’s been quite a lot of that too.

For anyone following me on Facebook, you might have noticed a slight surge in the number of political posts I’ve been tacking up on my timeline. Yes, I’m one of those people who were energized by the referendum campaign, one of the sleeping electorate who finally woke up to smell the (burnt) coffee of national and international politics.

Happily, my  own personal Scottish enlightenment has involved a lot of reading too, both online and in books. When I don’t understand something, I go straight to a book in search of answers, or when I’m reading for pleasure, I constantly come across things that tie into real-life experience, shedding light on it or expressing it perfectly in words.  Nothing really changes in human nature.  We just keep doing the same old things, and since many great writers of the past saw it all before us, we just have to look to their words for help in understanding what we’re still seeing today.

Books are always the answer

Like last night, flicking through Michael Rosen’s version of Aesop’s Fables, I picked the story of the wolf and the lamb to read to my little person. As we got to the moral of the story, I couldn’t help thinking how well it described the abuse slung at the Yes campaign during the Scottish referendum and the ability of the other side (the No people) to come up with all sorts of excuses to  deny their own behaviour and still bring the other side down. Fast forward to the current UK general election and press repeat.  Each side pedalling dreams and ridiculing the other side’s vision as lies.


But since this blog is supposed to be about Italian literature, I’d better stay on topic and get back to the lingo of my adopted land: Italiano/Abruzzese.

There’s nothing better than an Italian proverb for hitting the nail on the head.

Local Abruzzo dialect: 

Non créde a suònne, ca le suònne ‘nganne

Italian: Non credete ai sogni, perché ingannano. 

EN translation: Don’t believe in dreams because they’re not true.

Meaning: Don’t get taken in by illusions, because you’ll only be disappointed. Best to keep your feet on the ground. 


Staying on the subject, I didn’t have far to look until I came across another one.

Salvete da lu pidòcchie arebbivate. 

Italian: Salvati dal pidocchio resuscitato. 

EN translation: Save yourself from fleas that have come back from the dead.

Meaning: Protect yourself from double-crossing people who have obtained power.  


Just in case it’s not clear yet, I am actually rather disallusioned with our current corporate-led, neo-liberal political model and dream of a world in which the following is not the case:

Chi cummanne fa légge.

Italian: Chi comanda fa le leggi.

EN translation: He who commands dictates law. 

Meaning: The people in power make sure everything works to their advantage. 


Change: a long time coming

Tutto il mondo e’ paese, as the Italians say. People are the same the world over. I might just have realized that the world is not always a nice place, but the people of Abruzzo have had their own pithy saying for it for years.

Now, I’d hate to have ruined your day with all this negativeness or bore you with how I think Scotland is showing the world how democracy can still, possibly, maybe, at a push, storm through and save the day.

So, to go out on a high note, I thought I might mention emblematic Italian children’s author Bianca Pitzorno and her wonderful story of school girls fighting injustice in the battlefield that is their classroom, under new teacher Arpia Sferza. Even when justice is sometimes very long and very slow in coming. In some cases 300 years.

Ascolta il mio cuore [Listen to my heart] Published in Italian 1991 by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore.   A translation may follow when I stop banging on about politics.

Bianca Pitzorno, 1991

Bianca Pitzorno, 1991

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