Once summer arrives, Italians flock to the beach or mountains-which explains why the city suddenly offers ample parking spaces. You, too, may try to leave the city. But beware of driving on summer weekends unless you understand not just Italian, but its special summer vocabulary. Due to the esodo, you’re likely to encounter a bollino nero on the autostrada; thus, a partenza intelligente is highly recommended.
Esodo: The exodus. An annual event of biblical proportions. People leave the city in droves, all hitting the road on the same day.
Bollino nero/bollino rosso: Don’t tell me you’re thinking of driving on the highway on a day declared to be a bollino nero? The black death of traffic predictions, it is worse than the bollino rosso that characterizes pretty much the entire summer.
Partenza intelligente: Try to avoid a bollino of any colour by executing a partenza intelligente (‘smart departure’). The real trick lies in determining the most intelligent departure time and method. Be sure to have everyone in your party already at the departure point well before the determined hour, and consider driving in the middle of the night.
Tormentone estivo: Each summer, one or more songs are the tormentone estivo, the tune that tortures you at least once a day wherever you are-in the car, on the beach, or stuck to your couch in front of MTV. After much consideration, I declare ‘Don’t wanna miss you,’ by Catalin Josan, currently featured in Vodafone commercials, the tormentone estivo of 2011.
Cocomerata: You may try to beat the heat by eating huge amounts of watermelon (cocomero), but be aware that this fruit attracts droves of flies and sits heavy on the stomach.
Burraco: A bridge-like card game favoured by Meridionali (southerners), a perfect way to waste those dead hours after your heavy lunch and before you can swim again, for, as everyone knows, swimming within two hours of lunch is a sure cause of death in Italy. The card game is especially useful after the cocomerata (see above).
Emergenza caldo: You’ll want to watch out for this one, a heat emergency, always announced with much gusto on the radio or TV. Tragic in the city, less so on the beach, where it is wise to stay under the umbrella and paint your whole body white with SPF 400. If you are in the city, stock up on popsicles and try not to move. Use popsicles also in armpits.
Il Grande Rientro/controesodo: The saddest part of all, the end of the summer, the big return to the city and to work. Also known as controesodo, this big re-entry causes similar bollino nero days as the esodo mentioned above, but without the happy anticipation of a holiday.
See you in September!