23 October 2011


Italy in winter is cold.  Hell, Italy in fall is cold.  No one tells you this, but it’s true.  I think it’s got to do with the houses being made of stone, covered in cement, filled with hard surfaces.  Tile, granite or marble floors.  Big windows and floor-to-ceiling balcony doors.  All I know is, two weeks ago, it was 80 degrees and I was wearing flip flops.  Now, I’m sleeping in flannel PJs, wool socks, and a hooded sweatshirt under 3 blankets.  It’s only October.  The temperature at nite is between 5 and 17 degrees Celsius.  That’s around 40-60 Fahrenheit.  Trust me, it’s cold.

Last year at this time, living in the south, but on the 6th floor of a building on the top of a hill near the top of some mountains  (the rest of which is a story for another day or another lifetime),  with drafty 30 year old aluminum windows that leaked when it rained, I was colder than I’d ever been.

Amongst other things we didn’t have, we had no heat.  Like many places in Italy, the heat-source was a fireplace.  If you could keep this fireplace going, it could, in theory, heat up the water running thru the complicated set of pipes behind it that in turn would run throughout the house to the radiators and, presumably, heat the place.  I wouldn’t know. Because for that, you needed wood. Which we didn’t have. And even if we did, we didn’t have the motorized contraption hanging off the balcony to bring the wood up the six flights. Sitting around, huddled in long johns and woolly hats, we could see our breath. 
We were cold. 

When we moved here, we spent one month in a small apartment on the first floor of a building on the un-sunniest street in town.  It, too, had a fireplace as its heat-source.  It did not have any pipes to bring any hot water to any radiators.  We did have wood, but we had to stand right in front of the fireplace, in the kitchen, to feel its warmth.  But it did have a space heater which is crucial during winter, when it gets realllly cold.

Italy has an abundance of space heaters.  Electric ones, oil-filled electric ones, gas ones.  Glorious, heat-radiating wonders with which I’ve become well-acquainted.  A shower in winter requires the strategic placement of one. 

Our current apartment has gas heat. And a pellet stove. And one electric heater that belongs to the owner. And one oil-filled coil electric heater that we brought with us from the first apartment.  And gas and electric are expensive here.  And the radiators all seem to be placed by windows and doors, so October seems a little early to start using any of it.  Especially when you know you’ll be cold until April or May.

So now we have this:

Chinese-made electric water bottle.  I thought the 5 euro pocket Italian-English dictionary that I bought in Salerno was the best 5 euro I’d ever spent. I was so wrong.

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