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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Nasone’

Have a little sip from our fount of knowledge with today's word.

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

Give in to the temptation to dip a toe in one of Rome’s historic fountains in the sweltering August heat, and you can expect to be hit with an eye-watering fine.

But there’s one form of relief that the city offers up to all without asking for a cent in return: its cold drinking water fontanelle (fountains) – informally and affectionately known as nasoni (nah-ZOH-nee).

The word’s origins are simple: a naso is a nose, and the suffix -one (pronounced ‘OH-neh’), makes a noun or adjective into a bigger version of itself.

mangione, for example, is a glutton, a mammone is an adult mama’s boy, and buffone – a buffoon or fool – comes from buffo, the medieval Latin word for ‘clown’ and the modern Italian word for ‘funny/silly/odd’.

nasone (nah-ZOH-neh), then, is a big nose. Had it ever occurred to you that the spouts on Rome’s fontanelle look a bit like oddly shaped noses? It will now.

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Cyril Sneer
Tourists fill their bottles from a 'nasone'.
A Roman ‘nasone’. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP.

Un minuto che riempio la mia bottiglia dal nasone.
One minute while I fill my bottle from the fountain.

Nasone is a regular noun, which means the plural is nasoni. Aside from fountains, the word can also be applied to people with big noses – nasone for a man endowed with a large snout, nasona for a woman.

The water from nasoni is supplied by the utilities company Acea and is the same as that which is pumped into Roman’s homes, meaning it’s regularly tested and perfectly safe to drink.

There are more than 2,500 across the city, and the Nasoni a Roma app – despite being a little janky at times according to user reviews – is one of the most comprehensive when it comes to mapping out their locations.

The fountains were introduced to Rome shortly after Italian unification in the 1870s by mayor Luigi Pianciani, who decided to provide free drinking water to all the city’s residents.

The nasoni were shut off for several months when Rome experienced a severe drought in the summer of 2017, but the move was met with heavy criticism by the Italian Water Movements Forum (truly) who said it didn’t do much to help and unfairly penalised the homeless who were reliant on the fountains.

Since then, despite a dry spell in 2019 and Italy experiencing its worst drought in 70 years in 2022, the noses have – so far – stayed running.

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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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