Viva Italia!

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 1:52 p.m.
I’ve been in northern and central Italy for about two weeks now visiting family and touring around as well.  The joy of re-visiting a country that I’m madly in love with for its food, its language, its beautiful countryside, and rich culture is being mitigated by one negative factor – blistering heat.  After four years that have included four winters of complaining about the cold, I put aside a little money every month so that I could finally go away with my family to Italy, and what have I done for the past two weeks?  Yes, I’ve been complaining about the heat in pigeon Italian, “E caldo.  E molto caldo.  E caldissimo.”

I really would like to chalk it up to trying to make conversation and using the few words that I know but it has been thirty seven to thirty eight degrees every day which means that you can only walk in the shade and when you sit down, you perspire so heavily that natives of Florence or Venice refuse to come anywhere near you.

It is a mystery of nature how the women of these cities manage to look perpetually cool, elegant, and chic in such high temperatures. I would like to think that they walk around in some sort of transparent air conditioned bubble that is only available to native Italians. In Florence, women manage to look fashionable, wear extremely high-heeled shoes, and cycle through anarchic traffic while looking like they are about to fall asleep. Meanwhile, my ankles are caving in from hours of walking in my comfy flat sandals, my deodorant surrendered hours ago, and I am looking for the nearest air conditioned café to drink aqua frizzante or carbonated water on ice.  They must have a technology that I don’t have.

Apart from this, I feel like the luckiest woman in the universe to have been able to share this experience with my son (who managed to keep my husband and I museum hopping for ten days) and my daughter who, like me, enjoys the experience of sitting in a nice café while eating good food.

Yet some of my happiest times have been meeting a very dear high school friend who lives in the walled city of Lucca with his lovely and personable family, and hanging out in what I have come to think of as my Italian hometown, Bassano del Grappa, a small city in the foothills of the Dolomite mountains where my sister-in-law lives.  It takes about one hour and twenty minutes to take a train from Venice to Bassano, and though it’s not in most guidebooks, it’s one of my favourite places to be.  It’s old, there’s great food to be had, beautiful scenery, and not a lot of tourists fighting you for your space.

Today, there was a huge thunderstorm at four in the morning and it’s been cloudy all day.  Best of all, the temperature has gone down to twenty-five degrees so it’s been a real treat to walk around Bassano’s old town and eat a pannino (the real word for pannini) in an outdoor café with a really good cappuccino to end the meal.  This is the good life; I’m trying very hard not to think about the winter to come.



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