Piove, governo ladro (“It rains, shame to the government!”)
One of the expressions that Italians use quite often is: “Piove, governo ladro!“, which literally menas: “It rains, the government is a thief!” and could be better translated into: “It rains, shame to the government!”.
When you think about it, it might seem a little bit silly to blame the government because it is raining: nobody is responsible of bad weather and so not even the government.
But for Italians if in everyday life there is something that is not properly working and you can’t blame anybody, then we like to think that it can be the government’s fault.
Words are always important and this expression clearly explains the trust relationship that Italians have with their government. If the government, from the very beginning, is not honest and so does not give a good example to follow, why should we behave in the correct way?
Where does this expression come from?
Was it invented now expressively for Berlusconi?
Unfortunately for us it is very old (and for this reason it is cultural).
Some date it back to Ancient Rome, others to Northern Italy and some others to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Anyhow all different versions are practically very similar and they are all linked to the salt tax that was government’s monopoly.
Governments used to weigh salt (considered a luxury commodity) on wet days, when salt would be heavier– after having absorbed the rainwater. The result was that the tax was higher than it should have been and so: “It rains, the government is a thief!”