Italian word of the day: ‘Ristori’

Italian word of the day: 'Ristori'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
We bet it'll be a relief when you finally understand this word.

You may have noticed this word come up in headlines about the latest 'Decreto Ristori', the package of financial aid measures the government has announced to help out those whose pockets have been worst-hit by the Covid-19 emergency in Italy.

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Plug the phrase into Google Translate and you'll get the delicious-sounding 'Refreshments Decree'. But ristori in this context refers to sustenance of a different kind.

The word can indeed mean 'refreshments': ristoro (singular version) comes from the verb ristorare, 'to refresh', especially by eating or drinking.

It derives from the same Latin root that gave us the word 'restaurant', the place you 'restore yourself' with the help of a good meal and a glass (or more) of wine.

That's why you might spot a punto di ristoro ('refreshment stand') in a station or by the motorway, or avail yourself of the servizio di ristoro ('refreshment service') aboard a train. 

But the word can also have a more spiritual sense: it refers to refreshment of the mind as well the body, such as the kind you get from taking a break or getting some sleep.

In this sense we'd translate it as 'solace' or 'relief'.

Dopo un giorno frenetico, il sonno è un grande ristoro.
After a hectic day, sleep is a great relief.

Cercava ristoro dalle sue preoccupazioni in conversazioni con gli amici.
She sought solace from her worries by talking to friends.

This is the sense in which it applies in the Decreto Ristori: the measures are meant to be 'relief' from the hardship that months of restrictions have left many in Italy facing.

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