Why does everyone in Florence call a tracksuit a ‘toni’?Figures of speech
Why does everyone in Florence call a tracksuit a ‘toni’?
In Tuscany we don’t have a proper dialect, but you just have to move a couple of miles to hear different ways of saying that are specific to every area. I need to first say that I am from Pistoia, and therefore I live a little more than 50 km from Florence. Despite this, during a camping holiday in Donoratico as a child, I was rather disconcerted when a Florentine friend asked me if I too was going to wear the toni in the evening. I did not know what a toni was! It was my mother who explained to me that this was what Florentines used to call a tracksuit. I learned that new term with the curiosity typical of children and I did not ask myself too many questions about the philological etymology of that word. Only many years later did I discover the origin, or rather the possible origins of that term.
According to the first hypothesis, it seems that the soldiers stationed in Florence who were about to go home after the liberation stitched on their uniform the acronym TO:NY (which stood for To New York). It also seems that many of those tracksuits never made it to the United States and that many ended up on the stalls of the San Lorenzo market. So it was that the garment was identified with the acronym embroidered on it.
The other explanation has always to do with an acronym, which this time is of Italian origin: T.O.N.I would in fact derive from Italian National Olympic Tracksuit. All this would refer to the fact that for the first time in 1936, during the Olympics in Berlin, Italian athletes all wore the same tracksuit that had been produced in Florence.
The last hypothesis instead refers to the term 'Anthony' or 'Tony' which in Italian, but also in English according to the Oxford Dictionary, designates a simple and often untidy person. Evidently it is not like now that tracksuits have gone a long way and even become a fashionable item on many an occasion... at the time wearing a tracksuit was considered a bit sloppy!
I can read your thoughts and am betting you can’t wait to walk into the first sports shop in Florence and ask for a toni to see if what I told you is true! Try it out, and since you took the chance to get to know the wonderful lily city, among our tours in Florence you will surely find something interesting!
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