Hands clasped behind their backs, slightly bent forward - the typical posture of the so-called standing pensioners. Older gentlemen who observe.
- Umarells, the chronology of a success story
- City gives pensioners posts
- How an Umarell gets on TV
- The hype begins
- The final breakthrough!
You find them when parking, in rear-end collisions, but especially in front of (public) construction sites. The standing pensioners from the Italian city of Bologna, known there as "Umarells", are now famous throughout the country. And now they are even coming to the cinema.
The chronology of a success story, retirement my arse...
- How it all begins: Blogger and writer Danilo Misotti from Bologna started his blog about Bologna's standing pensioners in 2005. A bit affectionately mocking, but always with great respect. He gives the phenomenon of construction site observers a name: Umarells. The interest is so great that Misotti publishes a book in 2007 ("Umarells").
By the way, the term "umarell" comes from the Bolognese dialect. Omarello or omaretto literally means "little man". Usually used affectionately, mockingly.
„GDP is not growing, but the life expectancy of the "Umarells", to whom at least one bank holidays should be dedicated, is increasing.„...from the table of contents of the book "Umarells".
The beginning of a hype. The standing pensioners are celebrated in the social media: People who - no matter what the weather - are committed to public safety, although they are usually not thanked for it. On the contrary.
More and more people all over Italy are starting to take an interest in the seniors from Bologna.
Misotti has already written two sequels ("Umarells 2.0" and "Umarells per sempre"). And now even great cinema is coming.
The shooting of the first pensioner film started on 28 May. The idea for the film came from director Adam Selo, who had approached Masotti to propose the project. Due to the pandemic, filming had initially been postponed for safety reasons.
City distributes items to pensioners
- The official recognition as observerIn 2015, the Adriatic city of Riccione paid 11,000 euros to pensioners for observer work. Among other things, the senior citizens were to count the number of trucks on the municipal construction sites. Purpose: to control deliveries and prevent theft.
"After not drinking much water, not eating fruits and vegetables, after going out in the hottest hours, the Umarell deserves a treat," a post on the Umarells Facebook page.
How an Umarell gets on TV
- The first awardIn 2015, the village of San Lazzaro di Savena (near Bologna) gave its first award to a retired person. The senior Franco Bonini becomes "Umarell of the Year". His prize: a day as a site manager on a municipal building site.
First the local media report, then all of a sudden virtually everyone. The star Umarell gives interviews for television and newspapers. He is the star guest at the "Miss Italia" pageant. In the past, the city hardly took his suggestions and hints seriously, but today he is its most famous citizen.
- ITALY FOREVER - 100 years lie between these photos
- The Queen and Italy - With Glamour and Ravioli...
He can hardly pursue his actual activity of observing road construction sites undisturbed. People often recognise him, ask him about the conditions of the construction sites. If a sign is missing somewhere, if there is a closure somewhere - Bonini usually knows.
In 2018, the city of San Lazzaro di Savena appointed him honorary construction director in gratitude for his commitment. And once again Bonini makes national news.
The hype around Umarells
- For a good cause: The cultural association "Succeed solo a Bologna" (translated as: "succeeded only in Bologna") offers the "Umarell" card in 2016. The money from the sale goes to the restoration of Bologna's churches.
- For gamblers: A game app called "Umarell" will be launched in 2016. The aim of the game is to build and control construction sites.
- Advertising models: Fast food giant discovers the standing pensioners for its online campaign. Instead of a skinny model with a burger, there is wisdom and experience.
The Umarells get a piazza
- Public tribute: The "Advisory Commission for the Naming of Streets" in Bologna allows the renaming of a public square to "Piazzetta degli Umarells" in 2017. Inauguration in 2018. The street sign is stolen in 2019.
- Cult status. Even in comics, the pensioners from Bologna come to late honours. The "Micky Mouse" magazine ("Topolino" in Italy) is dedicating Umarell Gerindo Persichetti a whole episode.
- Annual planning: A Standing Retired Calendar has been published for several years now - and demand is high.
- Olive oil from Italy - All about the green gold
- MEATLESS IN ITALY - Everything for vegans and vegetarians
- Service: In Pescara, real estate developer Sarra is installing windows in the construction fences at three building sites at the end of 2020 - for better observation. (Photo at the top)
- Analogue gadgets: Since 2021, the board game "La Giornata dell'Umarell" has been available. (translated: The Daily Routine of the Umarells).
- The big breakthroughIn December 2020, the word Umarell will be included in the official Zingarelli dictionary (equivalent to the Duden in Germany or the Oxford Dictionary in England).This will then make the Stehrentner world famous. Newspapers and online services all over the world reported on the phenomenon - until today...
This is how the standing pensioner is described in the Italian dictionary: "pensioner who, usually with his hands behind his back, walks around construction sites to check, ask questions, make suggestions or criticise the activities that take place there".“
Lo Zingarelli, Vocabolario della lingua italiana, Zanichelli 2021
Your bed in Bolgona
Your flight to Bologna
- Bella Venezia: The Curse of Beauty!
- GAY FRIENDLY travel in Italy: tips & events
- City quiz: Milan, Florence or Rome?
On the road from north to south: Bella Italia
- Olive oil from Italy - All about the green goldItaly and the olive trees, an ancient love story. Italian cuisine without olive oil is unimaginable. Today, olives are a billion-dollar business.
- Where everyone wants to go! - The 10 most popular cities in ItalyForewarning: Could get fuller, especially in summer! The 10 most popular cities and places in Italy: This is where many people would like to go (at least) once in their lives...
- SOPHIA LOREN - The story of a super divaSophia Loren (88), the super diva from Italy, A skinny girl from Naples who becomes Hollywood's favourite. In show business for 60 years.
- MEATLESS IN ITALY - Everything for vegans and vegetariansDepending on which region you are in Italy, you automatically eat vegetarian (or vegan). Everything you need to know about vegans and vegetarians in Italy...
- RESEARCHED! - Why Italy speaks with its handsFull body effort is also required when speaking in Italy. Scientists have discovered why people in Bella Italia talk with their hands.
- CHEESE LOVE - Buffalo mozzarella, burrata or fior di latte?It's almost a feeling of being in love when you bite into mozzarella: Fresh, creamy milk flavour, delicately melting aromas. Seduction in white.
- HOLIDAY IN RIMINI - The whole story of the Adriatic legendQuietly and secretly, the legendary place on the Adriatic has given itself a facelift. So much for 80s fustiness and permanent parties. Rimini, the whole story.
- EMOZIONI! - Italian hits to sing along withGoosebumps, longing and memories you didn't even have. There are the Italian songs that go straight to the heart.
written by Annie Kayser, first published 12 December 2021, updated 29 June 2022
Sources: Umarell's Facebook page; Bologna Today: "San Lazzaro esaudisce il sogno degli 'umarell': "direttore dei lavori" per un giorno"; La Repubblica: "Riccione, il Comune paga i pensionati per sorvegliare i cantieri"; Vita.it: "A Bologna nasce la card per assistere ai cantieri"; Comune di Bologna: "Inaugurata in Cirenaica la Piazzetta degli Umarells"; loZingarelli 2021