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‘Dottore! Dottore!’: Inside Italian graduation traditions

Madison Bierl
Agnese Garbugli celebrating after her graduation.

Instead of spending the day in a cap and gown to celebrate graduation, one University of Urbino graduate flaunted around town wearing an inflatable costume.

In the United States, there are commencement ceremonies for graduates. In Italy, there is no specific graduation day for university graduates.

Agnese Garbugli, 24, is a recent graduate of the University of Urbino in Italy with a three-year degree in economics and management. She said students organize when they conclude their studies, usually between January and February, June and July for the summer session, or August and September right before the next school year starts.

Friends and family are invited to the graduate’s final exam or presentation for their professor to watch and celebrate afterward.

“I invited all my relatives and friends, so behind me I had like 50 people that listened to me,” Agnese Garbugli said. “I was shaking, but I was so focused on my teacher I was like, ‘I’m not gonna turn back.’”

Agnese Garbugli said she was not as nervous to present for the teacher because they have a lot of students to get through and do not care as much. She said her nerves were due to her friends and family traveling to Urbino and taking the day off to be there to celebrate her success.

“It’s been three years of studying and then one month writing down your thesis and texting and emailing your teacher. Then in 10 minutes, you’re done,” Agnese Garbugli said. “I’m like, ‘This is it? Yeah, okay. Okay, thank you. Bye-bye. I’m not gonna see you anymore.’”

Agnese Garbugli’s father, Giovanni Garbugli, said he was impressed with how Agnese presented her information.

“She demonstrates capability and strongness in explaining and telling while facing the professor and answering the questions,” Giovanni Garbugli said. “I’ve been very happy about that because now I know that she will be able to face many other difficult questions after that.”

Agnese Garbugli wore a gray pantsuit and a traditional laurel wreath crown to celebrate her graduation. According to her, it is a nod to Roman and Greek mythology and symbolizes wisdom and glory. The color of the ribbon depends on which area of study the graduate completed.

The main color of the ribbon is red, which shows a completed degree. The yellow ribbon in her crown represents her area of study, which was economics.

For an Italian graduate, the whole day is meant to celebrate them, which includes embarrassing them. Agnese Garbugli’s best friend Gloria Rossi and her brother Alessandro planned all of the jokes to embarrass her, including a costume, karaoke and the bartender act. Agnese said that the people closest to the graduate tend to plan the pranks because they know you the best and can include inside jokes and secrets.

“Organizing the pranks for Agnese was fun and challenging, but it was worth it,” Rossi said. “We had a lot of fun, especially because she is willing to do everything.”

The first task was to put on an embarrassing costume.

“I mean, that day I was dressed like someone was half-naked with big boobs,” Agnese Garbugli said.

She was challenged to approach strangers and ask them to do something.

Agnese Garbugli said she is not a shy person and doesn’t care what people think, but was not happy with her best friend for the challenge.

“[I was] literally asking, ‘Can you please put your head between my boobs and can I shake them?’ I was like ‘Oh my god,’” Agnese Garbugli said.

Agnese Garbugli also approached strangers in order to serenade them. The joke was that her voice sounded like an old lady who sings in the local church choir. A couple of songs she sang were “Tu si a fine do’ munno” by Angelo Famao and “Sere Nere” by Tiziano Ferro.

Another of Agnese Garbugli’s tasks to embarrass herself was to act as a bartender, which is what she does for a living, in the inflatable costume. After she made her drink, she spilled it all over the floor and herself. Agnese said she felt so bad because the owner of the bar was one of her party guests.

“Everything was perfect you know, clean and sharp everything. Then bam, my heel is stuck in I don’t know where, and it dropped everywhere,” Agnese Garbugli said.

During graduation spurts, it is not uncommon to hear groups of people walking around singing a song “Dottore, dottore dottore del buco del cul!” It roughly translates to “Doctor, doctor, doctor of the asshole.”

“When you graduate, your signature [includes] ‘doctor.’ I graduated, so I’m not just Miss Agnese Garbugli. I’m doctor Agnese Garbugli,” Agnese Garbugli said.

As for the song, Agnese Garbugli said, “You’re a doctor, but from your butt.”

On Agnese Garbugli’s graduation day, she walked all around town celebrating and had her graduation party at the local bar, Sugar Café, with her friends and family. The bar is owned and operated by her father Giovanni Garbugli, who said he tried to please her when deciding what food to make to celebrate. Giovanni Garbuglimade chickpea salad and insalata di farro, made up of dried tomatoes, olives and cheese. There was also pizza, stuffed crescia sfogliata and omelets with spinach and asparagus.

“The main thing is the party,” Agnese Garbugli said. “You give 100% to the party.”

Giovanni Garbugli said Agnese Garbugli has been surrounded by her friends, which has been very nice.

“I really thank all the professors and her friends. They really care,” Giovanni Garbugli said. “They’ve been caring about her so I’m really happy for her and her future.”

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