Pittima is the term that in the past was used to define a person who was paid by creditors to constantly follow their debtors. He was a sort of tax collector whose task was to remind to the debtors that they had to pay off the debt they had contracted. The profession of pittima was very common in two of the maritime republics: the Republic of Venice and the Republic of Genoa.
Pittima was often recruited among the marginalized and the disadvantaged persons. These persons had to be available at any request of the institutions to following a debtor. So actually it was a regular job (!).
Pittima was always dressed in red so that everyone would know that the victim of pittima was a defaulting debtor 😉 In this way, the embarrassment of the debtor increased even more due to the shadowing of pittima.
But is not all! Pittima was allowed also to shout loudly to embarrass the debtor (!). His constant following was focused on attracting much attention as possible of passers-by and convincing the debtor to pay off the debt. At the same time, the debtor who was being followed couldn’t harm, offend or answer pittima. It was forbidden under a penalty of condemnation because pittima was an institutional figure 😉 In the end, after the collection of the debt, pittima received a percentage of the debt.
Nowadays, a job as a pittima doesn’t exist any more. However, the term pittima remained and became synonymous of an insistent person who always complains.”T’ê pròpio ‘na pìtima!” that in Genoese dialect means:” You’re the one who constantly complains about something”. What is more, the Italian dictionaries Garzanti and Trecciani gave officially the definition of pittima as “an annoying person, who constantly complains about small things“.
And you? Do you know any pittima? 😉
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