Before I moved to Milan, I had associated a particular sound to be as synonymous with the city as that of the trams: the opening and closing of the tapparelle!
Now, I know Milan isn’t the only place in Italy to have tapparelle (nor is Italy the only country in the world to have them), but I never encountered these nifty window covers in my necks of both the Roman and American woods. And when friends from the U.S. visit, they’re just as intrigued by them as I used to be.
Not only do tapparelle make the room super dark at night, but they also provide a layer of protection from inclement weather. In addition, when they’re shut in the summer, the sunlight can’t get in so they help keep the space cool. Having a home outfitted with tapparelle is always one of those I-don’t-need-pinching-to-remind-me moments that yes, I really do live in Milan!
Before I moved to Milan, I almost always stayed with friends here, and I heard the opening and closing of tapparelle first thing in the morning and at some point in the evening respectively. What I love, love, love about them is how you can shut them without closing the slats all the way. It’s a nice way to get some ventilation without worrying about too many insects flying in….especially at night!
However, my tapparelle started to have some issues that fell out of my realm of capability–and the realms of several strong able-bodied gentlemen for that matter–to fix. I honestly didn’t know where to start so after several fruitless Google searches, I asked my colleague Simone. He’s Milanese through and through so I thought if anyone would have a lead for me, he would.
Later that afternoon, I received an email with the subject “Tapparellista“. Duh, of course, Italian would have a super specific word that applies to individuals who fix these convenient contraptions. So for fun, I googled “tapparellista” and sure enough, plenty of results came up. Now, I had a new word to add to my Italian vocabulary.
When the time came for me to call Simone’s guy, I got really nervous. Cold calling in English freaks me out let alone Italian. I didn’t want the whole office to hear me not being able to explain myself clearly using tapparelle jargon. I really wanted to avoid one of those moments where I inadvertently became the center of attention.
Anyhoo, my friend/colleague Federica called the tapparellista on my behalf, and he offered to come the next day. After a couple of “che cazzo” exclamations and a “porca miseria”, he fixed tapparelle one. For the other, he needed a piece he had at home so he came back the following morning. Now, they’re both seemingly as good as new. In fact, he even lowered the maximum opening height to prevent the same problems down the road.
The best part? When the tapparellista arrived and we started talking, he asked me why I had my friend call because my Italian was just fine. 🙂
Signore Boni was epic and if you ever need a tapparellista, hit me up and I’ll give you his number.