Squilli Degli Innamorati

Have you ever been going about your day, dear galleons, and found yourself thinking of someone dear to you, your thoughts drawn so thoroughly to them that you feel the need to reach out to them, to give some indication to them that they are in your thoughts at that moment? But perhaps you don’t really have anything to say, no specific message, just that need to reach out to them somehow. So you send an awkward text message or leave an odd (and pointless) message and the moment you’re done you feel stupid for having done so, feel like the whole thing has fallen flat, when all you wanted was to reach out for one bright and blinding moment and let that person know you were there and thinking about them.

Well, perhaps you haven’t. Maybe you’re better at friendships and relationships and dealing with people than I am (which is almost assuredly true). Maybe sending those messages doesn’t feel so very awkward to you. But I have always wished there was some easy way to make that brief, glorious connection with a person, without expectations and explanations and excuses.

Turns out, the Italians might have the answer. The squillo.

Besides being the most adorably hilarious name for a method of communication, a squillo is a strange and wonderful way to send a message to another person. See, a squillo is an intentional missed call.

Wait, what?

That’s right. A squillo is a one-ring missed call that is apparently quite common in Italy. You call someone, let it ring once, then hang up. And they are not expected to return the call. That one little ring is the entire message, the entire communication.

But what’s really neat (and confusing) about the squillo is that its meaning is entirely dependent upon context. For example, you might be a little late to meet up with someone, so you send them a squillo to say you’re on your way. Or if someone sends you a message, you can leave them a squillo to let them know you’ve received it. The receiver of the squillo must interpret its meaning based on their relationship to the sender and what they are doing/what their plans are.

And that’s what’s so interesting. See, at no time do these relatives or friends or coworkers or lovers sit down and say, “Here’s what a squillo will mean for us in such-and-such a situation”. Instead, it requires this wonderful, organic method of deciphering its meaning that relies on a knowledge of the person sending it.

Baffling… and beautiful.

To bring this full circle, a squillo out-of-the-blue between lovers can be a cute (in my book), flirtatious way of saying you’re thinking about someone. A blip or buzz from their phone, with your name in the missed call list, and they know you can’t get them off your mind that day.

If only we Americans regularly used this strange little method of communicating. With a simple squillo, I could say “I’m thinking about you” or “I miss you” without the heavy weight of the words. Just a brilliant little spark to light up someone’s day.

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