Le Superstizioni Italiane

(buona fortuna = good luck       sfortuna = bad luck)



Italians are superstitious and they share some of the well-known beliefs such as:
a.   Do not open an umbrella indoors.  
b.  To break a mirror will bring seven years of bad luck.
c.   Do not walk under a ladder.

But there are some Italian superstitions........  

1.   In addition to the number 13,  in Italy the number 17 is considered unlucky.  If given the choice, Italians will avoid having a room number, ticket, etc. with the number 17 on it.  This belief originates from Ancient Rome and the Latin word VIXI, meaning 'I lived'.  In modern Italian - vissi. 

In Roman numerals the number 17 is XVII and they are contained in the word VIXI.   That is to say, these numerals are associated with the meaning ' I have already lived' and 'I am no longer living'.  

In Italy, Friday 17th. (il venerdì 17) is the most feared date.


2.   It is considered lucky to eat lentils and to wear the colour red on the first day of the new year.  This will bring good fortune during the next twelve months.


3.    On the night of 10 August (the feast day of Saint Lawrence) Italians look up at the sky hoping to see a shooting-star as this is considered to be lucky.  The way to say 'shooting star' in Italian is 'stella cadente' which literally means 'falling star.'  

Saint Lawrence - San Lorenzo - is the patron saint of Rome and the shooting-stars represent the sparks of fire at the scene of his martyrdom which took place in Rome on 10 August in the year 258 AD.

4.    You should not receive anything 'sharp' as a gift.   This includes objects such as a comb, a brooch, a needle, a hair pin, etc.   In order to avoid the bad luck,  you must give a coin (una moneta) to the person who has given you the item.  That way, you are buying the item rather than receiving it as a gift.

5.    In Italy, a black cat - un gatto nero - is considered unlucky, including if it crosses the road in front of you.  This is the opposite of the superstition in the United Kingdom and in other countries that a black cat is lucky!

6.    In Italy,  it is considered unlucky to place bread 'upside down' (capovolto) on the table.   In addition, when you are placing the silverware on your plate, be careful that it does not form a cross as this is considered an unlucky gesture.

7.    In Italy, it is considered lucky to touch something made from iron.  This is the equivalent of 'touching wood'.  Instead of saying 'Touch wood!', Italians say 'Tocca ferro!' ('Touch iron!')

8.    It is considered unlucky to change or wash your bed linen on a Friday.  It is also considered unlucky if three people are involved in making a bed.

9.    If you spill salt, it is considered unlucky.  In ancient times, salt was very precious, like money.   The Italian word for 'salt' is il sale.  The word 'salary' originates from the currency of salt.  If you spill salt, you must throw some backwards over each shoulder in order to avoid bad luck. 
It is also considered unlucky to spill oil.