Italian Phrase: Così è la vita! (Such is life! / C’est la vie!)

The Italian equivalent of the exclamative phrases Such is life! / That’s life. / C’est la vie! is Così è la vita! It is used to express acceptance or resignation in the face of a difficult or unpleasant situation in both a serious and jocular way.

Così è la vita!

Such is life! / C’est la vie!


The construction of the Italian phrase is slightly different to its English and French counterparts, so let’s break it down into smaller chunks:

Così

A very useful adverb meaning like this / like that or in this way / in that way.

è

The third person singular of the verb essere (to be) in the present tense.

la

The feminine singular definite article meaning ‘the‘.

vita

The Italian word for ‘life‘. In Italian, vita requires the definite article la when talking about life in general (as opposed to a specific life) whereas in English, it does not. For example:

godersi la vita = to enjoy life
-- la vita è bella = life is beautiful

young woman with purple hair raising her eyebrows and shrugging her shoulders
Così è la vita! – C’est la vie!

It is also possible to rearrange the order of the words to create the phrase la vita è così (such is life).

A popular variation is Così è fatta la vita, which incorporates the past participle of the verb fare (to do / make). In this case, the literal translation would be Life is made like this.

Mi spiace che non ti abbiano prolungato il contratto di lavoro. – Eh vabbè, pazienza, così è la vita! Cercherò qualcos’altro.

I’m sorry that they haven’t extended your job contract. – Yeah well, whatever, that’s life! I’ll look for something else.


Così è la vita is also the name of a popular Italian comedy film written, directed and performed by the comic trio Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo. Released in 1998, it was the trio’s most commercially successful film after Chiedimi se sono felice.

In the scene below, Catania (Giacomo’s police partner) asks if he can take time off for a few hours to meet a woman, leaving Giacomo alone to pick up a prisoner. You’ll hear the phrase così è la vita around minute 1:37. You can activate the auto-generated subtitles, which are not always accurate but better than nothing.

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