We've chosen today's word in honour of the successful landing of NASA's Mars rover Perseverance. You may have seen it in the Italian headlines:
Italian has a curious word for a ‘mars landing’ which isn’t just a compound noun: ammartaggio.
– Un ammartaggio perfetto
– A perfect Mars landing
Italian also has the noun allunaggio which, as you might be able to guess, is a moon (luna) landing.
– Credevo avessi detto che il primo allunaggio era un falso
– I thought you said the first moon landing was fake.
While the word ammartaggio will probably have very limited practical usage in your everyday life – unless you happen to work for NASA – it’s still helpful to know about this Italian construction.
It comes from the much more commonly-used word atterraggio, which simply means landing – sulla terra, or on earth.
The Mars version is derived from Marte, the Italian name for Mars, and the first usage is attributed to a news report in La Stampa in July 1976.
Following this logic you could presumably come up with words to mean landing on pretty much anything – although I'm told that aggiovaggio (Jupiter landing) is definitely not a real word.
You can also say l'atterraggio di Marte (literally: the landing on Mars).
If you wanted to use verbs instead to talk about landing on Mars, the Moon, or anything else, you’d say atterrare (to land)
– Vogliamo atterrare sulla Luna
– We want to land on the moon
– Siamo atterrati tardi la scorsa note
– We landed late last night
And instead of saying “making a descent” or “coming in to land,” you’d say facendo le manovre di atterraggio, literally: 'doing the landing manoeuvres'.
– Abbiamo appena iniziato le manovre di atterraggio a Roma
– We’ve just begun our descent into Rome.
So whether you’re dreaming of exploring outer space or arriving at Rome Fiumicino, we hope you’ll now feel a little more confident talking about it in Italian.
Do you have a favourite Italian word, phrase or expression you'd like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.