Apart from sounding like some dirty act, ‘squillo‘ is one of the most useful words in the Italian vocabulary, in my opinion. What does it mean, you ask?! Well since there is no exact translation into English, it means, ‘call someone on his or her cellphone, let it ring 1-3 times, and then hang up.’ This will let your friend know that you have arrived at your previously agreed upon destination.
Squillo, meaning a ring or a buzz, comes from the Italian verb, ‘squillare,‘ to ring.
Rather than picking up the phone and having the 15 second conversation: ‘I’m here,’ ‘OK, I’m coming,’ you can simply say ‘Ti faccio uno squillo,’ or, ‘I’ll squillo you,’ then ring ’em up when you have arrived, to let them know you’re there. And done!
You may ask why someone would want avoid the short phone call exchange of, ‘I’m here, come out.’ Well, not everyone is as annoyingly responsible as me: a girl with an actual cell phone plan, with minutes available every month, paid automatically from my bank account. Most people in Italy have a pay-as-you go plan, and 90% of those people never recharge their phones. Meaning, no one wants to actually place a phone call and lose those euros, when they can just call and hang up, giving you the same message. Either that, or it’s just faster to buzz a few times and hang up…
PS-beware the wrath of one squillo-ing you, if you actually pick up the phone call, instead of letting it ring!