Italian word of the day: ‘Rientro’

Is it that time already?

Italian word of the day: 'Rientro'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

If you live in Italy you’ll be hearing this phrase used a lot in the coming days and weeks.

In fact, it’s practically impossible to avoid talk of ‘il rientro’ as the long summer holidays come to an end.

The word rientro, as you may be able to guess, literally translates as ‘reentry’ or ‘return’, and this is the term used for the start of the school year or the return to work after the summer holidays.

It can be used at the start of any new school term or after other holidays, but the end-of-summer event is something pretty much the whole country takes part in at once – hence why it’s often referred to this time as ‘Il grande rientro‘.

And, as you’ll know if you live in Italy, it takes on a greater sense of importance than the literal English translation might suggest.

– Siete pronti per il rientro?

– Are you ready to go back to work/school?

Just as the Ferragosto mid-August holiday is a sacred national tradition, with most of the country taking their ferie or annual leave over the same few weeks, so then is the return home afterwards. 

READ ALSO: How do Italy’s public holidays compare to other EU countries?

As such, at the end of August Italy experiences the controesodo the opposite of the early August esodo or exodus, when pretty much the entire country goes on holiday at once, always resulting in huge traffic jams.

With everyone coming back from their holidays at once, the country’s roads and railways are similarly packed once more – but the mood is decidedly lower this time.

‘Traffic, red alert on Sunday for the first controesodo of August’ – Headline from newspaper La Repubblica on August 22nd, 2021.

While the controesodo is tinged with post-holiday sadness, there’s some excitement and relief about the rientro – parents are quite glad to send children back to school after more than two months, and there’s the fun of your favourite restaurants reopening and catch ups with friends after their holidays. 

– Il giorno dopo il rientro a casa, sono andato a trovare i miei amici

– The day after we returned home, I went to visit my friends

Il rientro signals a nationwide change of pace and mood. It’s time to get going again, in every sense, after weeks – if not months – of long family lunches, afternoon naps, and quiet days at the beach.

Some people even see it as a kind of new beginning, not unlike the New Year.

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: ‘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.