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Italian word of the day: ‘Struscio’

Slow down and take the time to stroll through learning this word.

Italian word of the day: 'Struscio'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

Struscio comes from the verb strusciare, ‘to shuffle’ or ‘to drag’ (if you’re talking about feet), or ‘to rub’ (if you’re talking about, say, elbows).

That makes uno struscio literally ‘a shuffle’. But during the days of Covid lockdowns, three Italian regions banned this from city centres, in their so-called “anti-struscio” ordinances – in this case, it isn’t walking funny but strolling.

READ ALSO: ‘No strolling’ in Venice as Italian regions tighten local Covid-19 rules

A struscio is another way of saying a ‘stroll’ or ‘amble’.

Con mio padre faccio lo struscio per le vie principali del borgo.
I go for a stroll with my father through the main streets of the village.

You might assume that the term refers to the slow gait of someone moseying without a destination in mind, but according to the dictionary its origins are more specific than that.

The word refers to an Easter tradition in Naples that sees the faithful visit seven churches on Maundy Thursday, the day before Christians mark the Friday that Christ was crucified.

People would make the tour on foot, dragging their feet slowly – either because they were reflecting on their faith, or simply because they were surrounded by chatty friends and neighbours.

Walking in Naples looks a little different these days. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The ritual became known as lo struscio, possibly in reference to participants’ shuffling feet, or perhaps they would rub up against the rest of the crowd, or maybe even because of the rustling of their stiff Easter finery.

By extension the term refers to any kind of meandering walk, especially a sociable one and especially one you dress up for.

It’s like a slightly old-fashioned, southern synonym for una passeggiata, the uniquely Italian form of walking practiced around squares and along seafronts every evening or Sunday afternoon.

Will you be going for a struscio this week? Now you can invite your Italian friends and family out for a leisurely evening wander with a new word up your fine sleeve.

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

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For members


Italian word of the day: ‘Tirocinio’

Let us offer you some (unpaid) experience with this Italian word.

Italian word of the day: 'Tirocinio'

If you’re entering the world of work in Italy, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll be offered a tirocinio (pronunciation available here). Should you accept?

That all depends on whether you think you’ll get enough benefit (and money – in the unlikely event there is any) out of an internship, which is what this slightly odd-sounding word means.

According to the Accademia della Crusca, Italy’s oldest linguistic academy and the guardians of the Italian language, it comes from the Latin word tirocinium, which has two components.

The first part of the word comes from tirone, the name for a recruit to the Roman military (tirare means – among others things – ‘to shoot’ in Italian).

The second, cinium, comes from canere, meaning ‘to sound’ (a horn) or ‘to play’ (music); a tubicinium was a horn or trumpet player.

Joined together, the two words meant something like ‘a rousing of the recruits’, in the sense of an initiation or learning experience. An intern is a tirocinante.

Tirocinio isn’t the only Italian word for internship: you’ll also hear people talk about a stage (pronounced the French way, like this, as it’s borrowed from French); an intern is a stagista.

That’s the title given to Alessandro, one of the main characters in the Italian comedy series Boris, who starts an internship on the set of the medical soap opera Eyes of the Heart 2 and is soon initiated into the bizarre and dysfunctional world of Roman TV production.

Ho dovuto lavorare presso la mia azienda per sei mesi come stagista prima che mi offrissero un lavoro.
I had to work at my company for six months as an intern before they offered me a job.

Domani inizierò il mio tirocinio – auguratemi buona fortuna!
I start my internship tomorrow – wish me luck!

If you do end up working as a tirocinante or stagista, hopefully it will be less surreal and better remunerated than that of Boris’s protagonist.

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