Are you imbottito? The Italians are in the autumn, whatever the weather

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Picture: The Local

It’s a curious phenomenon, but every year, whatever the weather, round about the middle of October the Italians start wearing their winter clothes. It’s the cambio di stagione, the change of the season: summer clothes are banished to the wardrobe to be replaced by warmer winter outfits. And these are worn even though the weather may be sunny and mild. The official arrival of autumn means a complete cambio dell’armadio (wardrobe change).

When someone is particularly well wrapped up against the cold, we say they are imbottito.Our friends at the English-language Italian newspaper The Local, who recently made imbottito their Word of the Day, say: “It might not be the most obvious adjective to use, as it comes from the verb imbottire, similar to riempire, it means to ‘stuff’, ‘pad’ or ‘fill’ something – like a cushion, or a sandwich. “It comes from the word for barrel: una botte – imagine a fat, wooden barrel filled to bursting.”

The Local asks: “So how can this possibly be the right word to describe someone being very warmly dressed? In English, we’d hardly say someone was ‘stuffed with’ or ‘packed full of’ clothes.” But that’s exactly how it can be used in Italian: Mi sono imbottito di abiti prima di uscire’  I wrapped up well before going out.

The newspaper adds: “There is after all a reason for the snug seasonal outfits: the dreaded colpo d’aria, a ‘chill’ which, as nonna will remind you, you could easily catch if you go outside, or sit inside next to a window, without being adequately imbottito. So, if someone tells you: Imbottirsi per bene, they’re not telling you to ‘stuff yourself’, but to ‘wrap yourself up well.’”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Picture: SmilingStyle.com

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