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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian expression of the day: ‘All’aperto’

Why might you see this phrase all over Italian headlines?

Italian expression of the day: 'All'aperto'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

You'll need to get to grips with this expression if you want to avoid a hefty fine: Italy has just made face masks mandatory all'aperto, or 'outdoors'. 

Find out more about the latest rules here.

Aperto is the past participle of the verb aprire ('to open'), which is why you'll probably recognise it from shop doors (far better to find something aperto ('open') than chiuso, 'closed'). 


Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Like in English you can also use it of people, to say they're 'open-minded' or 'frank'.

I miei sono molto aperti.
My parents are very open-minded.

Adoro le persone di carattere aperto.
I love people who are open by nature.

But unlike in English, you also use aperto to mean 'switched on' when you're talking about a tap or a gas pipe, for instance (which naturally means that chiuso can be 'switched off').

Mannaggia, ho lasciato il gas aperto.
Dammit, I left the gas on.

All'aperto literally means 'in the open', and it emphasises the fact that there's nothing between you and the outdoors. That's why it's sometimes more like saying 'open-air' than just 'outside'. 

If you're feeling poetic, you can extend the phrase a little and say all'aria aperta ('in the open air'). Just don't swap it for al fresco: that means something quite different in Italian to the way we understand it in English.

Che estate è senza cinema all'aperto?
What's summer without open-air cinema?

Abbiamo dormito all’aria aperta, sotto le stelle.
We slept in the open air, under the stars.

And that's why it's just the phrase to describe Italy's new rules on face masks: when masks are declared “obbligatorio all'aperto” ('compulsory outside'), it makes clear that the government isn't just talking about wearing them in public places like shops and cafés, it specifically means you have to wear them even when you're 'out in the open'. 

What's the opposite of all'aperto? That would be all'interno, 'inside'.

And whichever one you are, so long as you're fuori ('out of the house' or 'outdoors'), remember that from today you'll have to take your face mask. 

Do you have a favourite Italian word you'd like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Inciucio’

Here's a word you'll need to deal with ahead of Italy's elections.

Italian word of the day: 'Inciucio'

With two days to go until Sunday’s general election, there’s talk of a potential ’inciucio’ everywhere from the pages of newspapers to the heated conversations at sports bars up and down the country.

So what is an ‘inciucio’ and why does the word seem to be on everyone’s lips whenever Italy faces elections?

Briefly, ‘inciucio’ is political jargon that describes any type of dubious agreement or, if you will, compromise reached by two or more political parties generally holding opposite views and ideals.

There’s no direct translation into English, though a native speaker would probably refer to it as something of a dodgy backroom deal.

Non c’è una maggioranza chiara. 

Eh, figurati. Faranno il solito inciucio.

There isn’t a clear-cut majority.

Oh, that’s not new. They’ll go for the usual deal.

Such an agreement is usually necessary when forming a large coalition government, with terms largely assumed to be based on the “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” principle. 

READ ALSO: Salvini vs Meloni: Can Italy’s far-right rivals put differences aside?

With that definition in mind, it’s hard not to see why ‘inciucio’ is such a commonly-used word in Italy, a country whose political class has historically been partial to improbable alliances with their previously hated rivals. 

Cosa pensi delle prossime elezioni?

Preferisco non pensare. Ne ho avuto abbastanza di questi inciuci. 

What do you think of the next elections?

I’d rather not think. I’ve had enough of these political deals.

Purtroppo, con questa legge elettorale, l’inciucio tra partiti è l’unica via per avere un governo…

Fammi un piacere. Gli inciuci esistevano anche 60 anni fa, molto prima di questa legge elettorale.

Sadly, with the current electoral system, a compromise between different parties is the only way to form a new government.

Do me a favour. These types of agreements existed 60 years ago, well before the present electoral system.

While the noble art of the inciucio goes back a long way in the history of republican Italy, the term itself was only coined in 1995 by Massimo D’Alema, then secretary of the left-wing Democratic Party (PD). 

The expression only rose to popularity a couple of years later, when the founder of the term thought it fit to put the word to good use and reached a ‘non-aggression pact’ with the then-leaders of Italy’s right-wing coalition – the agreement went down in history as the patto della crostata or ‘pie pact’ – but we’ll keep that story for another time.

Ever since then, the term ‘inciucio’ has been regularly used by political commentators as well as the wider public to discuss the various power plays of the country’s major political forces.

For instance, the most classic of inciuci was at the foundation of Giuseppe Conte’s first cabinet back in 2018, when Matteo Salvini’s League and Luigi Di Maio’s Five-Star Movement unexpectedly found sufficient common ground to form a coalition government.

So, will we see another inciucio this time around?

Given the unpredictable nature of Italian politics, you’ll forgive us for not ruling out the possibility of another inciucio just yet.

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