Signora/Signorina


In Italian, you address a man as signor. You address a woman – mature, married – as signora. A younger woman – ostensibly unmarried, unattached to children – as signorina. 1 signorina, 2 or more signorine. Where do I fit in at 30? I’m unmarried. There are no children around my ankles. And yet – 30.  I try not to stress about it; I’ll let others be the judge.

Standing in line at the pane-salumi-formaggi counter at the market:

Counter manager: Number 58! Who’s number 58?

Elderly woman: Here! I am! Oh, excuse me, signorina.

Middle aged woman: Oh, my. Thank you for calling me signorina.

Elderly woman: Ha ha! But of course, I meant this signorina right here: (reaches out, squeezes my shoulder)

Middle aged woman: Why can’t we all be signorine? I’m still a signorina!

Elderly woman: Hey, why not? I’m a signorina, too! But this one: (pinches my cheek, hugs me around the shoulders). What do you think, eh? Shouldn’t we all be called “signorina,” no matter how old we are?

Myself: Damn straight.

Middle aged woman: I’m a signorina!

Elderly woman: I’m a signorina, too!

Counter manager: Excuse me, signorine, what can I get for you?

Elderly woman: Oh, right. I want those two salami up there and a wedge of parmiggiano reggiano.

Counter manager: Okay, then. Glad I could finally help.

Middle aged woman: Goodbye, signorine!

Myself: Goodbye, signorina!

Perhaps I should have called this post “Sex and the Pane-Salumi-Formaggi Counter.”

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Margo says:

    Bravo, signorina! Some of us will always be signorinas. At least in ours minds of a certain age, that I’m pretty sure many of us are fine leaving to the imagination. 🙂

  2. Nerys says:

    Firstly, I just want to say that I love your blog!

    I’m a Brit living in Milan, and this’s a very familiar ‘argomento’ for me! I’m 24 (who barely passes for 18 most of the time, and very much un-married) and I’ve come to the conclusion that Italians are a bit confused about this. There was this one day a few months ago where I got called ragazza, signorina and signora all in the space of a few hours!

    I love the attitudes of the old signorine, nice to see that they still feel young at heart!

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