Hot. Really hot. Stinkin’ Hot. Freakin’ Hot. If-you-were-born-in-Alaska-you-have-no-frame-of-reference, Hot(that includes you folks in Fairbanks). Hawaii-isn’t-even-close, Hot. Hotter than Hell. You-could-fry-an egg-on-the-cobblestones, hot. Of course, you would want to pour a little olive oil on the stones first because, well, the oil is so good here, it would be a shame to cook an egg without it. It is no surprise that Dante, the designer of our concept of Hell and it’s rings, was from Italy. He was clearly drawing from personal experience.
Hot in Calabria (where I no longer am) was a special breed of hot. People said it was dry climate, but there was way too much mold growing on the bathroom walls for me to buy that story. Besides, it rained very regularly, about like Seattle, only with really big lightning and thunder. So, after a rainstorm, even though it was hot as Hades, at least it was muggy.
I was unprepared for the type of hot that we got in Calabria. It came on suddenly, March 21, first day of Spring, the weather changed immediately, but it didn’t really get cook-your-brains hot until mid-May. People were still wearing sweaters while I was lying naked on the bed with every window and door flung open praying for ventilation. I was more concerned about being found mummified than being dignified. They still had jeans and boots on while I was using SPF 50 at 8 AM. They were wearing scarves, yes, scarves, while I was lurking around alleys, adjusting my route home from morning errands so I could always be in the shade.
When confronted with the market square one day when I had been caught out past 11 AM on an internet mission I clung to the slim shadow of a restaurant sign trying to decide how to make the crossing alive. It was like passing through Death Valley at high noon in July. (I actually did that once) I pondered my options; wait until 5 PM to cross and find a cafe to sit in for 6 hours, reroute through the city and hopefully find a way around but risk the possibility that I may not find a way and have to cross at noon, or simply walk deliberately but slowly across remembering the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I chose the latter. I focused on the road in front of me, a few meters at a time. I checked for oncoming cars in all directions and then headed out with purpose; a vector heading straight for the Autolavaggio. One step, another, I could feel the heat on my back, another step, not too fast, another, another, feeling the perspiration building on my forehead and on my arms. Step, step, step, cars either stopping, slowing or going around me, I refused to change my pace or even turn my head in any direction, every exertion produces more perspiration. Finally, I step up the steep curb of the corner and two more steps and I am in the shade. A few more steps, keep going, because once I reach a crossstreet there may be a breeze from the sea. Yes, yes, there is a breeze. Hurray!
It is so hot in Calabria in June that when I get to work, even if I am standing perfectly still, I can feel the beads of perspiration sliding down the middle of my back and then beaching themselves on the waistband of my pants where they continue to irritate me for the rest of the evening. I shower every time I get home, no matter how many times a day that is, just to get my core temperature down a few degrees. I am pretty sure I have cooked a few brain cells during my time here, which may explain why I seem dazed and confused much of the time.
Even though the heat was intense on June 1st, people still acted like it was winter, at least in the way they dressed. Actually, the pizziola showed up one day in late May wearing flip flops, a T-shirt and jeans pushed up to mid calf and everyone was commenting on his clothes. He was acting as though it was Summer, the silly pudding. BUT on June 2nd, which is their Independence Day, and also signals the beginning of Summer, like our Memorial Day, all things changed. Everyone showed up on the street in shorts, sandals, skimpy blouses and sans the jackets. A few scarves still appear since apparently looking good is more important than not dying of heat prostration.
I wouldn’t want to downplay the heat of other Italian cities, because they clearly have some heat in them, but not like Calabria. I can only imagine Sicily – scary thought. IN Amalfi I stayed at the most delightful hotel up on a cliff, so high that the birds were my alarm clock and the church bells where my watch. Surrounded by trees and ocean breezes. it was wonderful. However, when I took the bus down to the city of Amalfi – HOT. Very Hot. Naples was no slouch either, it rained gratefully the first day but sunny the next. I was up early and out and back by noon to rest ans wait out the withering noonday sun, then out again in the evening when it cooled a little.
Here in Bologna, an absolutely gorgeous city, it is plenty hot as well. I spent yesterday morning in the hotel, which is right where I am now, and plan to be until about 4 PM. All the sidewalks are covered with porticos which keeps the direct sun off of you, so it is more like being cooked with steam instead of roasted. You know how if you go to the beach on a really hot day you can’t stand on the sand because it is too hot and you have to keep running or hopping your way to the sea….well, here in my room, at 11 AM I cannot put my feet on the Pergo where the sun has been shining, too hot! I washed out some underwear nad sox the other day, and they were still quite wet in the morning so I lined them up n the window sill. In a few minutes they were sweating their water out onto the sill and they were crisp/dry in under 30 minutes. Amazing! Still not as hot as Calabria. No wonder they grow kiwis there, practically year round.
THAT’S how hot it is. 🙂