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This sentence is in my coursebook: "Permette agli italiani di vivere una o due settimane a contatto con la natura e di riscoprire piaceri perduti della vita in campagna."
Is it the same as in contatto, because I can't find it in the dictionary? Is there a difference?

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In this context no, I don't think there is any real difference. I find that I feel more comfortable using a contatto when referring to a physical contact (stiamo a contatto = we are touching) and in contatto when referring to a metaphorical one (stiamo in contatto = we hear from one another).

So a contatto con la natura conveys to me an idea of greater intimacy with Nature. But I have no official source for this, except my Tuscan origins :-)

You would use a if the "contact" is the means through which something works - e.g. lenti a contatto, azione a contatto, interruttore a contatto.

BTW -- I think it's a typo, but just in case, country is campagna, not campagma.

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  • 1
    I think that 'a' is used with objects and 'in' with people. Easy.
    – Nicholas
    Jun 20 '16 at 12:47
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    However, Treccani dictionary gives these two examples of use of "contatto" meaning "relazione, rapporto" (that is, a relationship without physical contact): 1) gli impiegati che sono a contatto col pubblico; 2) mettersi in contatto telefonico con qualcuno.
    – Charo
    Jun 20 '16 at 12:53
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    @Nicholas: I'm not sure that's true because both the examples I reported from Treccani refer to people.
    – Charo
    Jun 20 '16 at 12:55
  • @Charo I didn't know what Treccani reports (perhaps is more correct than my opinion). Unfortunately, as native speaker sometimes I don't think about what I'm saying :D
    – Nicholas
    Jul 7 '16 at 17:54
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in contatto is used to describe relations between two or more human beings. a contatto is used to describe the relation with inanimate objects.

Edit: in contatto is used in friendly context, or in a direct relation between two people. It is often used in colloquial dialogues and involves direct talking. Ex: teniamoci in contatto, rimaniamo in contatto A contatto is referred to objects or to indefinite groups of people. It is often used to describe in a non direct way, the role of a relation between people. Then, using this expression, the relation is always indefinite and doesn't specify that talking is involved. Ex: "A contatto con il pubblico", "a contatto con il cliente"

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  • Welcome to Italian.SE, @Alberto! I'm not sure that's true because both the examples I reported from Treccani dictionary in my comment refer to people.
    – Charo
    Jun 21 '16 at 7:48
  • Alberto, your examples look good, but for the general rule a source (grammar book, dictionary) would be appreciated.
    – DaG
    Jun 21 '16 at 11:09
  • I just wanted to explain how in the current Italian language is used, I studied grammar since I was a child, but obviously I'm not a book, I was hoping to be helpful! :) Jun 21 '16 at 11:12
  • Many of us are Italians and – to the best of my knowledge – none of us is a book, but an answer is better if it is supported by some source rather than just by one's “ear”.
    – DaG
    Jun 21 '16 at 12:06

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