Mornings are chillier and leaves are changing their colors. This means just one thing: autumn is here!
When I was younger, I used to hate this period of the year. I was really into spending days at the beach, partying with my friends and going out a lot and the coming of autumn meant that I should stop doing all these kinds of things and go back to school and study and spend endless afternoons indoors: I was just totally bummed.
But things have changed. I am definitely older and all the things I love the most – reading, going into the woods and baking – are perfect at this time of the year. I still love summer a real lot, but I don’t mind the coming of autumn since it involves a lot of coziness and cool things to do.
I think that seasons make a perfect topic for a blog post, as they give the opportunity of writing about the traditions and habits of a certain place, providing a lot of useful vocabulary as well. Therefore, as I did for spring and summer, I decided to use autumn as the subject for a new Italian vocabulary post, where you’ll find some of the most used words and phrases to be used at this time of the year.
Shall we discover the Italian vocabulary for autumn, then?
L’autunno (autumn) begins with the equinozio d’autunno (autumn equinox), which takes place on September 22nd. Such day marks the official end of summer, even if the event that truly means the end of summer is the inizio della scuola (beginning of school). In Italy, it is up to each region to decide the exact date of the beginning of school. This year, it was a day between September 11th and September 15th, depending on the region.
The first day of school is always a very important day. I bambini (children) and i genitori (the parents) are always quite anxious for a new adventure. In the past, kids in scuola elementare (elementary school) had to wear il grembiule (school uniform) and carry around la cartella (school bag), while nowadays they can dress as they like and most likely have uno zaino (backpack) for la roba della scuola (school items): i libri (books), i quaderni (notebooks), l’astuccio con le penne (pencil case with pens), il diario (diary) and la merenda (a snack).
On the first day of school, kids meet their maestre or insegnanti (teachers) and i compagni di scuola (classmates) and they get to know their new classe (classroom), where they imparano (learn) new things.
Probably they are not so happy because – when they get home – they have to fare i compiti (to do homework) and studiare le materie di scuola (to study school subjects)
In autumn, there aren’t many festività (festivities) and it is all about waiting for Natale (Christmas). However, there’s a public holiday which is il giorno dei Santi (All Saint’s Day). It falls on il primo di novembre (November 1st) and is followed by il giorno dei Morti (The day of the Dead) which falls on il due di novembre (November 2nd), but which is not a public holiday.
Even if lavoratori e studenti (workers and students) get a day off, il giorno dei Santi is not exactly a happy day, since it is usually common to andare al cimitero (to go to the cemetery) and ricordare i morti (to remember the dead).
Here in Italy, we haven’t celebrated Halloween until a few years ago. Now it’s becoming more and more popular and kids go to bussare alle porte (to knock on doors) with their costumi (costumes) and maschere (masks), asking “dolcetto o scherzetto?” (trick or treat?) and people give them cioccolatini (chocolates) and caramelle (candies). Older kids may go to feste (parties) to ballare e divertirsi (to dance and have fun).
As it is common for Italy, we have a lot of cibo tipico (typical food) for All Saint’s Day. Here in the North, it is very common to have minestra di ceci (chickpea soup) on il giorno dei Santi. My mother makes it every year days in advance, just to make sure to have it ready for such a day. There can’t be an All Saint’s Day without chickpea soup, in my family!
When it comes to dolci (sweets), the most popular one is il pane dei santi o pane dei morti (the bread of the Saints or the bread of the Dead), which is a super yummy sweet bread made with raisins, crumbled biscuits, flour, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and chocolate. By the way, if you want to know more about All Saint’s Day in Italy, I have written a blog post about it a few years ago.
Speaking of food, in autumn there are a lot of amazing things. If you go nel bosco (into the woods) – which is amazing at this time of the year, with alberi (trees) and foglie (leaves) that change color – you can find castagne (chestnuts), noci (nuts) and funghi (mushrooms) if you are lucky. Moreover, autumn is also la stagione dei tartufi (truffle season), which are hard to find and quite expensive – but incredibly delicious!
Nell’orto (In the vegetable garden), instead, you’ll see a lot of zucche (pumpkins), uva (grapes) and the first verdure dell’inverno (winter vegetables): cavoli (cabbage), cavolfiori (cauliflower), broccoli (broccoli) and finocchi (fennels). It’s a vegetable galore and I love it!
Something very common to do in Italy at this time of the year is to go to a castagnata, which is basically a feast devoted to chestnuts. Castagnate are held in almost every Italian village, they usually take place in October and are a sort of celebration of fall.
If you go to a castagnata, you can eat caldarroste (roasted chestnuts) and focaccine dolci or salate (sweet or salty deep-fried pastries) while you drink vin brulè (mulled wine) or cioccolata calda (hot chocolate). There’ll also be musica dal vivo (live music), balli (dances) and giochi per i bambini (games for the kids).
But tell me, what’s typical of autumn in your corner of the world?
I hope you’ll find this post useful for your Italian vocabulary building purposes. If you like this kind of vocabulary posts, here below you’ll find the other ones.
If you have specific requests of topics and themes, just leave a comment here below or send me an email at cinzia@instantlyitaly.
I have prepared a pdf file with all the words and phrases we learned in this post. You can find it in Your Italian Toolbox, a section of Instantly Italy where you’ll find Italian learning materials. You can get access to it by subscribing here.
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