That’s Cloak to Me and You

13 Mar

Oh people, where to start?

Can I tell you a story?

Without getting into any specifics that might reveal a terribly heartachy crush that has befallen me of late (insert here: sigh, angst, another sigh, a slow tear cascading down my cheek, wistfulness, etc. etc.), let’s just say that recently I chatted with a particularly astute and erudite (yes, they are out there!) person with whom I felt the moment had finally arrived in which to utter one curiously simple, yet incredibly cryptic, word:


Quoth the Shelley.

And aforementioned heartthrob/genius replied:

“What? What the heck is a tabarro?” (not genius’s exact words. but close to.)

Which was exactly—EXACTLY—the reaction I had hoped for.

Thus proving my theory that there exist words in the Italian language which are so incredibly specific and remote that even heartthrob/geniuses don’t know them.

Which was incredibly rewarding for me. And also gave me more time to gaze into … no. Stop. Shelley. Stop! Focus!

Ok, so back to tabarro. This is what a tabarro is. Look at this photo, people. Look!


Now, you have one second to tell me what your first thought was, based on the following two choices I will now helpfully provide you with:

1) “Of course, Shelley. That is the Zara family, four generations of tabarro-wearing pride. Where the hell have you been? You act like people don’t know what a tabarro is. For shame!”


2) “OH! Cool! Snuggies came to Italy!”

Yes, #2 is courtesy of one of the loveliest girls I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this year, my housemate and helpful caretaker of my precious kiddos. God bless her for bringing me such levity. Black snuggies. Dracula-cape-looking-Snuggies.

Alas, they are not Snuggies (note absence of sleeves), and had you chosen #1 you would have been correct. This, my friends, is the work of a tabarrificio. Although I’m making light of it, I am only doing so because I can barely contain my sheer delight at having discovered such an anachronistic word and tradition here in Italy.

Frankly, there are days when I would gladly wrap myself in a tabarro and not leave my house. I might also add a warm mug of tea and a good book. (But here, we find ourselves dangerously close to Snuggie territory, do we not?)

I have no further commentary on the phenomenon of the tabarro, and nothing to say about a possible theoretical phenomenon invented by me and known as tabarrismo. I just think it’s super cool that a little kid like that is all wrapped up in a fancy black wool version version of a Snuggie. Nice.

Should you desire a tabarro of your very own, I invite you to visit


10 Responses to “That’s Cloak to Me and You”

  1. Eleonora March 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    Where’s the woman collection?! I want one of those! I love them!!!

    (And… What about this crush I don’t know anything about?! Write me NOW! ;-P)

  2. Un'americana a Roma March 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA oops … don’t be so obvious, you’re my best friend, geez! Give me a minute!!! Who went off and MOVED TO AMSTERDAM!?!??! Miss you … and… details forthcoming. 😉 It’s just a simple Greek tragedy. Don’t get all excited.

  3. Un'americana a Roma March 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    PS Ele I can score you a Snuggie if you want.

  4. brigolantecca March 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    You have given me reason to go on living.

  5. Un'americana a Roma March 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    No, no, bella Brigo, the Zara family has given you reason to go on living. Let’s give credit where credit’s due.

  6. Lilac March 14, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    Hi Shelly, you brought me back in time!! Where I come from (Firenze), “intabarrato” is a commonly used word! In fact, if you search Treccani you find: intabarrare v. tr. [der. di tabarro]. – Avvolgere nel tabarro, coprirsi bene con un grosso cappotto, alzando il bavero per ripararsi meglio: s’intabarrava sempre con cura prima di uscire, per timore del freddo. ◆ Part. pass. intabarrato, anche come agg.: va sempre in giro tutto intabarrato.
    I almost forgot this word till I read your post. I miss fiorentino…..

  7. Un'americana a Roma March 15, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    That is so cool. In fact my crush of the week as mentioned in this post also came back to me later with a really fabulous etymological study of the word. (I told you he was a genius/heartthrob. Sigh…) Yes, you should come back to Italy soon.


  1. Italy Roundtable: Zen and the Art of Making Gnocchi | Brigolante Guest Apartments - March 14, 2012

    […] let the potatoes cook until fork-tender. What really happened was that I got distracted by this singularly hilarious blog post by my friend Michelle, which pulled me down the rabbit hole of capes, Borsellinos, and cigars until […]

  2. OH on the 30 Express « - March 22, 2012

    […] eavesdrop on them, or read a little treatise by Nietzsche about morality or another book that my intellectual crush recommended to me. Now, as much I as dearly heart my intellectual crush, these girls were simply […]

  3. The Number 23 « - June 30, 2012

    […] However, here I must humbly note that my guru of etymology (no, I don’t even know what etymology means, but doesn’t it make me sound smart? and if you can grasp the irony of my previous sentence, then you must be my soulmate) is this man. Ask him if he knows the definition of tabarro. […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: