Volere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca and other Italian proverbs

Italian woman rolling a barrel of wine

Cosa significa (what does this popular Italian saying mean) ‘Volere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca’?

Literally, this Italian proverb is telling us that we cannot have the barrel full (of wine) and the wife drunk! In fact, if the barrel is full, the wife is sober and probably alert and watchful for her husband’s mischief… But, if the wife is drunk, the husband is free to make trouble without her under his foot… But, he won’t have any wine to drink because the barrel is empty as the wine has been all drunk by his wife…

Italian Academy Conversation
Osvaldo arrived very late, but his wife isn’t sleeping!

The corresponding English saying would be: You can’t have your cake and eat it too!

Italian Conversation
Italian Academy

Of course, they mean that we cannot have all we want and that every choice precludes some others.

Just wondering: maybe the wife and the husband of the Italian saying could share the wine barrel and enjoying it together. If it is true that ‘Mal comune mezzo gaudio’ (A burden shared is a burden halved), the day after they would have only half a hangover each. As usual: la virtù sta nel mezzo (as always: virtue is in the middle)!

Italian Beginners
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La virtù sta nel mezzo (virtue is in the middle)

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