Heat, Gloom, Bugs


I was reading an article in The Washington Post recently about how Europeans feel about America’s love of air conditioning.  Here’s a link if you want to read it.


A large part of Europe has been experiencing a heat wave this summer.  High temperatures in the 90s to 100 started at the end of June and have continued on with out a break.  For us, normally, there is a two week period in August when it is that hot but otherwise it is usually in the 80s during the day and mid 60s at night.  And for us here in Tuscany there is only a small period of humidity each day between 4 and 6 PM.  For most of the time the heat is dry. 

We lived in North Carolina and Northern Virginia.  Hot, humid places in the summer.  We have not been back to the US in the summer for several years now.  I really had forgotten about heat and humidity until we were in France, right at the beginning of the heat wave.  The wonderful place where we were staying is on a peninsula  with a salt marsh.  It was a little humid there.  Ben’s daughter, Maria, did not think it was as bad as New Orleans but I thought it was pretty bad.  The mosquitoes were bad too.  There was no air conditioning except in the big grocery stores and there were no fans at the house we were staying in.  And there were no screens on the doors.  It was a locked garden with a high fence around it, so at night we could have slept with the doors open if there had been screens on them.  And I would have been running a fan for sure.  I longed for air conditioning. 

Back in Italy and the heat continues.  What the article doesn’t mention is that many houses in Europe have both interior and exterior shutters.  Both of which can be used to control the temperature inside.  I don’t mess with the exterior shutters but I do open and close the interior ones by how the sun moves around the house.  First thing in the morning, the sun pours in the 3 windows on the side of our house where the bedroom and kitchen are.  (Added benefit, the sun pouring in the windows does help to wake me up, especially in the winter.)  So when those first hot rays hit me, I stagger up to shut those 3 sets of shutters and windows.  When I finally get up again, I close the two sets on the back of the house because by mid-morning the sun is hitting those.  By 1:00 or so, the sun is starting to come in the 3 windows on the other side of the house where Ben and I have our rooms and the living room.  If I haven’t already closed those then it is time to do it.  All the while, contrary to common sense, the windows are closed too.  So essentially we trap the cooler night air inside all day, recirculating it with ceiling fans.  Then finally open the windows and shutters back up around 7:00 PM or so.  But for the better part of the day, we walk around in a twilight existence. 

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Which is actually a little depressing.  But when you come in from the heat of outside you really do feel the difference. 

At the Esselunga last week, I watched Italian women, as soon as they walked in the air conditioning, reach in their purses (stylish of course) and pull out a long scarf to wrap around their neck.  Protection from ‘l’aria’.  Italians are so afraid of any cool temperature or moving air.  Fortunately, for us, the Esselunga is wonderfully cool.  So we enjoy shopping without scarves.  As I was bagging up our groceries, I realized that I had spent about 1/4 of the total purchase on things to fight mosquitoes.

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I feel like the whole summer has been spent slathering chemicals on our bodies.  In the morning for me it is sun screen.  Applied again, later on if I have sweated it off, especially on my face.  Then as the day goes on it is bug wipes and bug spray.  Even though Ben is not outside that much, I wipe his legs down every day with a bug wipe.  (note the always on bug light in the first picture above) The occasional mosquito will wander in.  But they will not be chewing on Ben!

Nerone had to use vacation time when he went to the ‘spa’ while we were in France.  And now with this heat he is only ‘working’ part of the day.  Fortunately, his chicken friends are not here now so he doesn’t need to protect them.  And even cats lay low in this heat.  So he doesn’t feel too bad about being inside lying under a ceiling fan for most of the day. 

And Nerone might be taking vacation time again in the fall.  Note the maps in the picture above.  We are planning our fall trip back to the US.  Looking for a dog/house sitter while we are gone.  If you are interested please send me a message.  Otherwise, Nerone will need to go back to work in this heat so he can take time off later when we are gone.  Two spa visit for him this year….  or new friends staying with him?




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