Language Lunedi’ – I Nonni

Lately I have been catching some fun photos of gli anziani – seniors. Most anziani are nonni – grandparents. Grandparents play a very important part in Italian culture. This usually comes in the form of giving out insightful advise, Sunday dinners, spoiling grandchildren but even raising their grandchildren. In most Italian families both parents are working and rely on the help of their own parents to help with the daily activities of the kids. It is not unusual to see i nonni picking up the kids from school and taking them to swim class or soccer practice. It is a big responsibility and clearly they have a huge impact on their grandchildren’s lives.

Here are a few classic photos of gli anziani doing what they do best and vocabulary words as they relate to i nonni.

For a great instagram account dedicated to the nonni of the world, check out:


Nonno with the child seat on the way to pick up his grandchild from preschool in Milan.


La nonna – aka – the neighborhood watch


La nonna watching the soccer game in the square in Milan – note the rosary beads in her hand.


Three gals out and about enjoying the city.

nonna and nonno

My nonni 🙂

grandmother – nonna

grandfather – nonno

granddaughter –  nipotina

grandson – nipote

grandchildren  – nipoti

great-grandfather – bisnonno

great-grandmother – bisnonna

to spoil (because let’s face it – that is the #1 job of the nonni) – viziare

So there you have it, a small list of words for a big part of Italian culture.

36 Comments on “Language Lunedi’ – I Nonni

  1. I too often find my self taking many photos of these wonderfully content subjects as they go about their daily routine. Always fun to see these photos.

  2. Wonderful photos. Remind me of time spent in the Italian section of Brooklyn NY when I was growing up. I guess nonni are the same everywhere!

  3. Please take a look … It means a lot to me/us!

    Thank you for your time and effort.

    Yours dincerly

  4. Lovely set of photos. Do you hold your camera and point it for all to see, or do you shoot secretively from the hip?

    • UGGGGG!!!! This is a huge issue for me! there are so many fabulous shots I miss out on because I never have the nerve to take photos of people. Especially in a foreign country…..I mean people living their lives are not there for my photo ops like in a zoo. So I rarely take photos of people. I only do it when they won’t see me and cannot be fully identified.

      • If you want to take candid photos of people in the street you need to use a small compact camera. Set it to wide angle and minimum aperture (largest available f/ stop) and hold the camera at your hip. Operate the shutter with your thumb and never look down at the camera. People will notice if you look down. Try a few test shots to get the angles right. The lower than normal viewpoint adds extra interest to the photos. Go wide angle to capture as much as you can. The high f/ stop will give you good depth of field. Crop your images to emphasise the correct subject. Remember that in most countries there is no law against taking photos in public places. But check the law, and be sure you are in a public place. Many shopping centres are actually privately owned.

  5. Seniors in America aren’t as revered as they are in some other countries. I rarely saw either set of my grandparents growing up. It’s nice to see your family! ~Sherry

    • Yes…..I feel fortunate to have spent lots of time with my grandparents when they were here. The seniors in Italy for sure have a nice life……Have a nice week!

  6. Very touching post. In Farsi (Iranian language), we also have different name for every member of the relative, including for cousins depending if they are from aunt or uncle form mother or father side! 😀 )))

  7. Hey -I like that I made an appearance in this post! 🙂 I was just talking about this with H’s mom – she said most grandparents in Spain pick up grandkids from school and do all the after school activities.

    • Hi Lyn! Errrr…yes…..the grandparents are doing A LOT of running around here. I love the pic of the guy with the child seat on the bike. But my favorite pic of course is you with nona and nono. 🙂

  8. So sweet that Italians do care a lot about their family especially the elderly! I am impressed how active the elderly in Europe – the man in the bike is typical Dutch grandparents’ activities.

  9. Loved it! Since I became a nonna I have realised that grandparents all over the world help a lot in similar ways with their grandchildren, because they are a joy. One Italian nonna we know has the children all day in the school holidays and when she cooks, she often has a big platter in tinfoil waiting for her son-in-law to collect. Her daughter works hard all day as a sarta (dressmaker). We live a bit too far away for that, but we are no strangers to changing nappies and mopping up sick. Thanks for the Like, BTW.

  10. I loved this post Diana! Great photos and also the Italian words to describe the important family relationships at the end!! Wonderful!

  11. I love this post Diana…Nonna and the anonzia are a study I could easily take up seriously with my camera. I always wonder what they are up to…Sweet!

  12. I love the pictures! It’s good to know the important of family relationships thru reading your entry.

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