Travel

Gnomes, Spies, and Thieves: A Secret History of Umbrellas

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If you live in New York, rain gear has probably been on your mind this week. Far less dreary than the weather is this Paris Review post on the ombrellai of Piedmont, a mostly closed community of umbrella craftsmen who worked in northern Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries. To protect their trade secrets, the ombrellai used an Italian-French-German-Spanish hybrid language called Tarùsc, believed to be named for a misanthropic gnome with a knack for making "the shapeliest, lightest, most lissome and elegant umbrellas in all the world" (seriously).

Tarùsc (the language, not the gnome) died out in the 1970s, but not before the ethnographer P. E. Manni da Massino had a chance to document some of its best words. If the late summer torrential downpours have you considering an artisanal umbrella business, the glossary the Paris Review has compiled is as fun a place as any to start.

Rain Men: The Lost Language of Italian Parasols and the Men Who Made Them

Image courtesy of Almanac Piemonteis Times
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