Well, I live in a lower class area. When someone from my neighbours’ families calls on their entry phone and is asked “Chi è?” (“Who is it?)”, the sharp answer is unfailingly the same: “Apri!” (“Open!”), not their name or “It’s me”. Well, actually they use the dialectal form for “Apri”, but that’s another matter…

It’s like they were not declaring their identity, but issuing an order instead. On the other side, they’re not welcoming a beloved one, they are yielding to an invader (even if it’s a daughter or husband). The entry phone is therefore a sort of bullying tool.

To be honest, most times people don’t buzz at all, they just call some relative’s name out loud from the street. They call it once, twice, any number of times (in a strictly set modulation, similar to a muezzin’s) until someone finally looks down, exasperated, and shouts “What d’ya want?”. The answer is still the same: “Open!”, but this time it conveys no violence at all: the long, frustrating waiting shaped it in an exausted, begging, moaning tone you can’t do but symphathize with…


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