Umarell

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Umarells observing re-paving at the corners of Palazzo Re Enzo and Via Rizzoli, Bologna (2015–16)

Umarell (Italian spelling of the Bolognese Emilian word umarèl, Emilian pronunciation: [umaˈrɛːl]; plural umarî) are men of retirement age who spend their time watching construction sites, especially roadworks – stereotypically with hands clasped behind their back and offering unwanted advice to the workers.[1] Its literal meaning is "little man" (also umaréin).[2] The term is employed as lighthearted mockery or self-deprecation.

The modern term was popularised in 2005 by local writer Danilo Masotti[3][4] through three books and an associated blog.[5][6] In 2021, the word was included in the Zingarelli dictionary.[7][8][9][10][11]

Instances of use[edit]

In 2015, the city of Riccione, approximately 130 kilometres (80 miles) southeast of Bologna, allocated an €11,000 budget to pay a wage to umarells to oversee worksites in the city – counting the number of trucks in and out to ensure materials were delivered/removed according to the receipts, and guarding against theft when the site was otherwise unattended.[12] The town of San Lazzaro di Savena, 6 km (3+12 mi) to the South-East of Bologna, awarded the "Umarell of the year" prize to a local resident, Franco Bonini.[13][14]

In 2016, the local cultural association called Succede solo a Bologna ("It only happens in Bologna") released the "Umarèl card" as a fundraiser for continued restoration of the San Petronio church.[15][16] Separately, a mobile app called Umarells was released that tracked the location of ongoing roadworks and construction sites.[17][18] The fast food restaurant chain Burger King also "hired" several umarells as part of a social media marketing campaign promoting its increased presence in the country.[19]

In July 2017, the Bologna city council's "consultative commission for the naming of street" approved the naming of a public square to the East of the city centre in the Cirenaica district Piazzetta degli Umarells in recognition of the local fame of the concept and the name – noting with conscious irony that the square was under construction at the time.[20][21][22][23]

In April 2018, the public square was inaugurated by city councillor Matteo Lepore, the district president Simone Borsari, the "lord of the umarells" Franco Bonini, the stand-up comedian Maurizio Pagliari (Dulio Pizzocchi), and the writer Danilo Masotti.[24] A year later the street-sign for the square was stolen.[25]

In April 2020, the comic magazine Topolino dedicated an episode to the umarell Gerindo Persichetti.[26] In December 2020 in Pescara, the real estate developer Sarra installed windows to allow Umarells to observe three construction sites.[27][28] Since 2019, an annual calendar has been sold in Bologna newsstands. In 2021, a board game La Giornata dell’Umarell (An Umarell's Day) was released.[29]


A construction site in Bologna with umarell observation holes for adults, children, and dogs.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ De Santis, Silvia (6 February 2016). "Umarèlls a Bologna, pensionati in prima fila per assistere ai lavori in corso. "Ogni giorno controlliamo quel che succede nei cantieri" (VIDEO, FOTO)". L'Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 28 April 2021. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  2. ^ Bianchini, Margherita (2011). 101 cose da fare a Bologna almeno una volta nella vita. Newton Compton Editori. pp. Item 40. ISBN 9788854125469. Archived from the original on 23 December 2021. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  3. ^ Masotti, Danilo (21 April 2018). "Bologna, all'inaugurazione di Piazzetta degli umarells c'erano tutti. Pure i contestatori". Il Fatto Quotidiano (in Italian). Archived from the original on 25 November 2020.
  4. ^ Manici, Elisa (14 April 2014). "La nostalgia degli 'umarells' è paralizzante. Bisogna cominciare a immaginarsi un futuro diverso". Ferraraitalia.it - Quotidiano di Ferrara - l'informazione verticale (in Italian). Archived from the original on 16 April 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  5. ^ ""Oltre il cantiere. Fenomenologia degli umarells": se ne parla con Masotti". BolognaToday. Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Esce 'Oltre il cantiere' di Masotti - Emilia-Romagna". ANSA.it (in Italian). 8 November 2016. Archived from the original on 25 June 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  7. ^ "La parola 'Umarell' entra nel vocabolario Zingarelli". Ansa. 3 December 2020. Archived from the original on 3 December 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  8. ^ "Gli 'umarells' bolognesi si aggirano ufficialmente nella lingua italiana". Dire. 3 December 2020. Archived from the original on 8 December 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  9. ^ "Bologna, gli "umarells" entrano nel vocabolario Zingarelli". Corriere di Bologna. 3 December 2020. Archived from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  10. ^ Bartezzaghi, Stefano (3 December 2020). "Dal cantiere al dizionario: l'Umarèll è finito sullo Zingarelli". la Repubblica (in Italian). Archived from the original on 26 January 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  11. ^ ""Pensionato che si aggira, con le mani dietro la schiena...": la parola "Umarell" entra nel vocabolario"". Bolognatoday (in Italian). 3 December 2020. Archived from the original on 10 February 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  12. ^ Bortolotti, Luca (18 December 2015). "Riccione, il Comune paga i pensionati per sorvegliare i cantieri". la Repubblica (in Italian). Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  13. ^ "Anziano al cantiere: premiato il migliore del 2015". Corriere di Bologna (in Italian). Archived from the original on 12 June 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Un bolognese realizza il sogno dei pensionati: nominato capo cantiere - Tgcom24". TgCom24. Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Le nostre Card". www.succedesoloabologna.it (in Italian). Archived from the original on 28 February 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  16. ^ "Bologna per gli anziani: ecco la Umarèl card per seguire i cantieri in prima fila". La Repubblica (in Italian). 2 February 2016. Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  17. ^ Giusberti, Caterina (13 January 2016). ""Trova il cantiere": una app per gli umarells". la Repubblica (in Italian). Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  18. ^ Troncana, Alessandra (14 January 2016). "Ecco Umarells, l'app che segnala ai pensionati tutti i lavori in corso". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Archived from the original on 11 January 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  19. ^ Jardine, Alexandra (10 May 2016). "Burger King Recruits Construction-Spotting Pensioners to Oversee its Expansion in Italy". Ad Age. Retrieved 8 October 2023.
  20. ^ "L'omaggio del Comune Nasce in Cirenaica la piazza degli Umarells - la Repubblica.it". la Repubblica (in Italian). Archived from the original on 25 June 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  21. ^ "A Bologna arriva la piazzetta dedicata agli "Umarells"". Corriere di Bologna (in Italian). Archived from the original on 22 January 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  22. ^ "'Umarell': una piazza dedicata in Cirenaica". BolognaToday. Archived from the original on 26 February 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  23. ^ "Blog | Bologna, e piazzetta degli umarells sia". Il Fatto Quotidiano. 23 July 2017. Archived from the original on 27 February 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  24. ^ "Inaugurata in Cirenaica la Piazzetta degli Umarells | Archivio notizie da luglio 2012 a giugno 2021". Bologna. 16 April 2018. Archived from the original on 22 January 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  25. ^ "Bologna, rubato il cartello di piazzetta degli Umarells". La Repubblica. 16 October 2019. Archived from the original on 8 February 2021. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  26. ^ Rosato, Paolo (21 April 2020). "Gli Umarells vigilano anche a Paperopoli". Il Resto del Carlino (in Italian). Archived from the original on 21 June 2020. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  27. ^ "Ecco finestre per 'Umarell', così anziani osservano cantieri - Abruzzo". Agenzia ANSA (in Italian). 12 December 2020. Archived from the original on 14 May 2021. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  28. ^ Ribaudo, Alessio (12 December 2020). "A Pescara finestre per umarell, così ritornano nei cantieri (in sicurezza)". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Archived from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  29. ^ Rossin, Massimiliano (1 October 2021). "La Giornata dell'Umarell: arriva il gioco della vita da pensionato". www.ilcittadinomb.it (in Italian). Archived from the original on 1 December 2021. Retrieved 1 December 2021.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Masotti, Danilo (2010). Umarells 2.0. Sono tanti, vivono in mezzo a noi, ci osservano... e noi osserviamo loro [Umarells 2.0. They are many, they live amongst us, they obvserve us... and we observe them] (in Italian). Bologna: Pendragon Press. ISBN 978-8883428579.
  • Masotti, Danilo (2016). Oltre il cantiere: fenomenologia degli Umarells [Beyond the Construction Site: the Phenomenology of the Umarells] (in Italian). Bologna: Pendragon Press. ISBN 9788865988077.
  • Masotti, Danilo (2021). Umarells per sempre:Forever [Umarells forever] (in Italian). Bologna: Pendragon Press. ISBN 978-88-3364-322-9.

External links[edit]