Buon Rientro! This Italian phrase, translated literally as “Good Return!” is heard a lot after the Christmas, New Years and Epiphany festivities end and everyone has to get back to business. After nearly a month of holiday celebrations and vacation time, the rientro can be rough.
I understand most Italian expressions wishing someone goodness or well-being, but until recently, I only understood “buon riento” for its literal meaning, the equivalent to “have a safe trip home!” It was easy to understand when Italian friends wished me a “buon rientro!” before my flight back to the United States, but nearly meaningless to me when Marco responded, “buon rientro” to a friend heading back to work.
Only when I came back to Italy after my trip to the U.S. this Christmas did I fully understand. Oooooh, il rieeeeentroooo.
It hit me. My mind was elsewhere, my clothes were everywhere, my time zone was nowhere. The rientro was like a physical, tangible substance. A real wall that I smacked in to somewhere over the Atlantic.
It’s not simply about a trip. Il rientro is more than just a return home, it’s a “re-entering” in general, whether that is into your country, back at work from a vacation or even re-entering into your own head, and it fits perfectly with the Italian philosophy to not just do life, but to live life. Something I’m learning about more and more.
Italians don’t feel guilty for taking a pause (as none of us should) and even have strategies and articles written to help one overcome the shock of the rientro. You can love your job – but everyone needs a break.
After three weeks in the U.S. seeing friends and family, eating more than it seems possible and catching up on my favorite American things I was happy to see my kids at school again. For me learning the real meaning of il rientro was a thing to be experienced, not translated. And though I managed to be well-rested and prepared enough for my first day back teaching, I wished a buon rientro to everyone I saw. They knowingly wished me the same.