How to Talk About "Il Rientro" in Italian

| Fri, 09/09/2022 - 08:49
Businessman in Sorrento

Going back to work after summer holidays is not always a pleasant experience, to say the least, but it can be especially traumatic if you’re Italian! People who get to know Italy and its culture well enough usually aren’t surprised when they learn that life slows down quite a bit during July and August. Summer holidays are sacred for Italians, and often, no high season and no amount of tourists can tempt a merchant away from his or her chiusura estiva (summer holiday closure). 

From July to the end of August, particularly during the Ferragosto (August 15) week, it’s almost impossible to prenotare una visita medica (book a doctor’s appointment), avere un appuntamento in banca (have an appointment at the bank), or even andare dal parrucchiere (go to the hairdresser). Ready to sign on the dotted line for any new projects or business deals? Forget it; se ne parla a settembre (we’ll talk about it in September). 

Starting over in September

"Open" business sign
You'll know il rientro is underway when you see fewer 'chiuso per ferie' (closed for holidays) signs in business windows, and more that read 'aperto' (open)

Major decisions are off the table in Italy until September; rimandare a settembre isn’t just a seasonal catchphrase, it’s a standard practice. Sometimes you can hear “Ne parliamo dopo le vacanze” (we’ll talk about it after the holidays) or “Ci vediamo a settembre” (see you in September) as early as June!

The other possible options are:

“Ci sentiamo dopo le vacanze!” 

“Sentiamoci al rientro dalle vacanze!”

(Let’s speak after the holidays!)

These phrases become un incantesimo (a magical spell), used to keep all kinds of impegni lavorativi (work commitments) at bay. Eventually, though, September always does roll around; when the signs reading “chiuso per ferie(closed for holidays) appear more and more sparsely, you’ll know il rientro (the return) is underway. Facing the huge pile of postponed tasks once vacation ends can make il rientro a rather dreaded time!

Tornare in ufficio (getting back to the office) unavoidably entails riprendere il lavoro (returning to work), partecipare alle riunioni (participating in meetings), and, of course, talking about your holidays with colleagues. One cannot simply cominciare a lavorare (start working) without being asked “Allora? Com’è andata la vacanza?” (So, how were your holidays?)

Rientro small talk: a sample conversation

-Ciao, Andrea! Come va? Com’è andata la vacanza? (Hi, Andrea! How is it going? How were your holidays?)

-Ciao, Gianni! Tutto bene. È andata benissimo, non volevo tornare più! (Hey, Gianni! Everything’s fine. Everything went great; I didn’t want to come back.)

-Ti capisco! Ma dove sei stato? (I feel you. Where’d you go?)

-Ho fatto due settimane in Sardegna. E tu? (I spent two weeks in Sardinia. What about you?)

-Che bello! Io sono stato in Grecia a non fare niente. Ho solo dormito e mangiato. (Awesome! I went to Greece to do nothing but sleep and eat.)

-Hai fatto bene, perché adesso si torna al lavoro…  (You did the right thing, because now it’s time to get back to work…)

-Si, ma prima prendiamoci un caffè, che ne dici? (Yes, but let’s grab a coffee first — what do you say?)

-Volentieri! (Gladly!)

Easing back into work and school

Basically, when it comes to riabituarsi agli orari lavorativi (readjusting to normal working hours), most Italians prefer to andare piano (go slow), and spend their “post-vacation” weekends fuori città (outside the city). A weekend trip can be an efficient remedy to ripartire (to restart) and to overcome l’ansia da rientro (return-to-work anxiety).

Things go a bit smoother for school students in Italy, as l’anno scolastico (school year) starts in the middle of September, though the exact dates in the calendario scolastico (school calendar) are different from region to region. Most students are glad to tornare a scuola (to go back to school), especially gli studenti (students) in la scuola elementare (elementary school) and la scuola media (middle school). Perhaps predictably, students of la scuola superiore (high school) are typically a little less enthused to get back!

In Italy, it’s mandatory to frequentare la scuola (attend school) until age 16; this is called la scuola obbligatoria (compulsory education). Many dread gli esami di maturità (the required graduation exams), but some in the mix might enjoy the ritual of procuring their school supplies: libri di scuola (textbooks) and la cancelleria (stationery and writing materials). 

Some of the essentials you’d find in most students’ zaini (backpacks), as well as on the scrivanie (desks) of your average impiegato (office worker), are:

un astuccio (a pencil case)
una matita (a pencil)
una penna (a pen)
un quaderno (a notebook)
i pennarelli (markers)
una gomma da cancellare (an eraser)
un righello (a ruler)
un temperino (a pencil sharpener)

Every year, toward the end of August, the news media warns families that the prices for all school books and stationery have increased (sono aumentati i prezzi dei libri e del materiale scolastico) to prepare parents for la stangata (the sting). No wonder people suffer ansia da rientro!

Il rientro can be hard, but as we all know, il tempo vola (time flies), and once you see “the 1st of September” on your calendar, it’s time to start thinking ahead to the beautiful autumn and festive seasons in Italy. With such thoughts it’s much easier to mettersi al lavoro (get to work!)

Stay with us to keep learning more about the language, everyday lives and habits of Italians.