It has to be said that Bologna, where I live, has a most unpleasant climate at times. In the winter it can be grey, cold, and humid, while in the summer it’s still humid, but now excessively hot.
Unlike in other parts of Italy, it’s almost never windy, which means the humidity hangs around, along with the pollution, but also that everyone panics when there’s a storm on its way and leaves start moving along the ground of their own accord.
It doesn’t rain much either, though when the heavens do open, it can pour down for days at a time. Spring and fall are the best times to visit and, assuming your trip doesn’t coincide with a never-ending downpour, both can be lovely!
But right now, as in the rest of Italy and in other parts of Europe, so French and Spanish radio inform me, it’s TOO DAMN HOT.
So, how do Italians cope? Well, first of all, they have separate wardrobes of clothes and shoes that are suited to the different seasons. Warm stuff for the winter, cool stuff for the summer, and in-between stuff for the other seasons.
Italians find it impossible to believe that people in Britain, for example, might wear the same jeans, shirt, and sneakers in both winter and summer. Haven’t they changed their wardrobes, they want to know?
My theory is that the success of the Italian fashion industry stems precisely from this demand for different garments and footwear in each successive season , as temperatures go up from single figures in the winter to reach a high of thirty five or forty celsius in the hotter parts of the summer, then back down again.
Add in a bit of clever marketing and by the time next winter comes, last winter’s woolies will look dowdy and unflattering so will need to be chucked out and replaced.
Plus, Italy has lots of hills and mountains, with sheep on them. Before people took skiing vacations, there weren’t a lot of other ways to earn a living in large parts of the country, other than textiles.
So, when things heat up, we dress differently. But also, we modify the rhythms of our daily lives so as to avoid the worst of the heat.
Some offices may start earlier in the morning, for example, whilst small children will sleep most of the afternoon before being dumped in front of the TV with a bowl of icecubes until the evening cool arrives.
People walk, run, or cycle before starting work, or when the sun has gone down. Yesterday evening we took Roomie out to show her what her frisbee is for, other than being chewed, at an hour when properly-brought up Anglo-Saxon toddlers are already pyjama-clad and encased in mulitple layers of sheets and blankets.
Funnily enough, she seems to think her role in the game is to run and fetch the frisbee when I chuck it (as far away as I can). It’s rather like having a puppy, I’d imagine. And came as a pleasant surprise, too, given that her chasing happily after her toy gave the adults a chance to chat with fewer interruptions that usual, and wore her out to the extent that a good night’s sleep followed!
But anyway, it’s hot. If you’re visitng Italy, or France, or Spain, feel no shame in walking on the shady side of the street, dressing in loose, lightweight garments with long sleeves, and above all, staying in your hotel room or apartment during the hottest part of the day. Sleep, why not? Then you can carouse when it’s cooler.
All this brings to mind Noel Coward and his well-known comic song (Youtube link) with its witty commentary on my countrymen’s attitude to hot weather:
“Mad dogs and Englishmen
Go out in the midday sun.
The toughest Burmese bandit
Can never understand it.
In Rangoon the heat of noon
Is just what the natives shun.
They put their Scotch or Rye down
And lie down.”
This site explains (and also has the full lyrics to the song, which are worth a read):
“Protection from the heat is rarely an issue in England. The appearance of the sun isn’t considered a reason to move indoors and sleep but to strip off and sunbathe. Even today, some lobster coloured British sunbathers on the Costa Del Sol see it as a point of honour not to concede that the sun might be too much for them.”
Scroll down that page for a fetching photo of an Englishman having fun on holiday…
But to be fair, on Saturday we took Roomie to the beach (since then she’s been saying ‘splash’ and making swooshing movements with her arms to represent what the waves did) and it was my Italian wife, who ‘never gets sunburnt’ that turned bright pink and moaned in pain half the night.
If anyone reading is in the school today, be sure to ask her how her shoulders are…
Thanks to everyone who bought last week’s ‘eBook of the classic Italian movie’ easy reader, Lo chiamavano Trinità.
But not everyone likes comedy westerns, it’s true, so this morning I published another of our history-themed easy reader ebooks, the last one, you’ll remember, being ‘Plinio e l’eruzione del Vesuvio‘.
This time we’ve fast-forwarded approximately eighteen hundred action-packed years on the Italian peninsula to introduce you to the nineteenth century’s most famous, and successful, revolutionary, a poncho-wearing veteran of various Latin-American uprisings, who’s now up to his subversive tricks back home…
Garibaldi sul ‘Piemonte’ (B2/C1) is B2/C1, so upper-intermediate/advanced. As usual the first week, it’s disounted 25%, so £5.99 rather than the usual ‘easy reader’ price of £7.99.
Nel 1860 l’Italia non è ancora un unico paese: è divisa in piccoli stati che vengono costantemente attaccati e invasi dalle grandi potenze europee. In questo periodo il sud Italia, dalla Sicilia a Napoli, è occupato dai Borboni. Ed è proprio da qui che il marinaio genovese rivoluzionario e repubblicano Garibaldi e mille volontari (“garibaldini”) spinti dallo spirito patriottico e dall’amore per la libertà, iniziano l’opera di liberazione e unificazione del paese.
“Voi sapete che questa riunione è segreta, giusto? Non potete dire niente a nessuno, ci siamo capiti?!” chiede ansiosamente Raffaele Rubattino, il grande costruttore e proprietario di navi ai tre uomini presenti. Poi si alza dalla sedia e si stropiccia la faccia con la mano.
“Oh mio Dio, cosa sto facendo!” dice Rubattino ridendo nervosamente. Garibaldi, seduto su una sedia di legno, lo guarda con un sorriso sereno, si gratta la barba bionda, si passa una mano fra i capelli lunghi e pettinati all’indietro e poi nasconde le braccia nel suo poncho. Alle sue spalle stanno in piedi Pasquale e Pietro, due garibaldini che lo hanno accompagnato all’incontro. Entrambi sono venditori del mercato, abituati a fare affari, ma questa volta non si tratta di vendere frutta e formaggi!
Garibaldi, che fino a quel momento è rimasto in silenzio, prende la parola con il suo tono autoritario e calmo: “Vi ripeto il piano, signor Rubattino. I vostri lavoratori lasceranno le due navi, che chiameremo il Piemonte e il Lombardo, giù nel porto. Poi i miei uomini le prenderanno. Sembrerà un furto, e con le navi rubate partiremo da Quar…”
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at intermediate level or above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
And if you don’t read/listen confidently at B2/C1 level? Not to worry – there are plenty of other ebook options from beginner upwards in our online Catalog, all with downloadable free sample chapters and FREE online audio!
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally immediately after your payment), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook (.mobi/Kindle-compatible, .epub) cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them.
Did you listen to Saturday’s FREE bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news?