Tuesday, March 04, 2014


I’ve noticed that when Italians answer the phone, instead of saying “Hello” or announcing their name, they just say “Pronto”, or “ready”, then wait for the person who called them to identify themselves. Then it’s “Oh, si, ciao. Quali sono indossi? Io non sono indossare qualsias…” or whatever.

I have a vague recollection that this habit dates back to the early days of Italian telephony, when lines were fuzzy and unreliable and a phone call was an important piece of communication rather than just an opportunity for a casual chat. Still, it’s kind of amusing. It would be fun when I get back to Australia to just start answering the phone with “Ready,” and wait for the person who called to do the rest. After all, they’re the ones demanding my attention.

Interestingly, however, it’s more the older Italians who answer their mobiles this way. The younger ones, raised on phones with caller ID, just look at the screen then answer with “Ciao Giovanni! E il nuovo lotto di meth ancora pronto?” Or whatever it is that young people say to each other these days.

Another random observation is that young Milanese aren’t required to have the latest phones, like they are in Australia. The scruffy young man next to me on the train felt his phone vibrate (it was set to silent, naturalmente), pulled it out of his jeans pocket… and revealed an ancient candybar Nokia literally held together with sticky tape.

Elsewhere I’ve seen teenaged Italian girls gaily chatting on flip phones or texting away on old Blackberries. I suppose when it comes down to having the latest Samsung Galaxy Note or a new Paul Smith parka in exactly the right shade of chartreuse, they follow their Italian hearts.


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