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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

Making the insufferable summer sufferable

Insufferable. My new favorite word inspired by this Roman summer.

I likely have hormones to thank for this, but I do not tolerate heat very well anymore. The girl who used to ride around Hot-lanta in July with the windows open instead of air conditioning, the girl who used to get cold in 80 degree weather, the girl who would opt to sit outside no matter what the level of humidity or heat index... This is now the girl who is contemplating skinning herself alive to have one less layer on her body.

It is 32-38 degrees every day. It is not even 40 degrees like some years. It is a very typical Roman summer. But there is something insufferable about it. Maybe it is the constancy of it. Until yesterday's storm, every day for five weeks was the same. Sunny. Hot. Sunny. Hot. Sunny. Hot. The storm was like injecting a twist into a boring plot. It peaked your interest just enough not to fall into a coma.

I like the word insufferable because it implies that you can't even suffer through it. I am not suffering through this summer very well. at. all.

I flee the city whenever possible looking for any breeze coming off any body of water. I refuse to cook anything not to raise the apartment temperature an extra couple degrees. I am drawn to places that look like they have air conditioning, blenders or drinks with ice.

This year, I regret not taking my own advice about Ferragosto holidays. Instead of going north, we are going south to Sicily. WHY!?!?! today's me asks. But I am arming myself with some tricks that help make the insufferable suffer-able. Sicily offers quite a few.

More Italian than this, you cannot get

The most obvious of the Italian cures to the heat. All of Italy's inhabitants make a mad rush to the nearest coast whenever a free moment presents itself. This in turn creates a new problem of sitting in traffic in a boiling car waiting for the relief of the coastal air and Mediterranean water. Lakes are an alternative to this mad rush and the traffic is much lighter. I have gathered over the years that many Italians consider lakes a poor man's beach, but I adore them. And both a beach and a lake serves the purpose of making it socially acceptable to be nearly nude.

The luxurious Villa Borghese

Trees Parks shade 
If you can't flock to the beach or to the lake, parks are not a terrible alternative. Rome has a lot of old land once owned by dignitaries that has now been dedicated to the city. Villa Borghese, Villa Pamphili, Villa Ada. All parks with ample shade and public water fountains. If there is wind on said day, a park is a lovely option. Don't stay there too late though. They close at 9:00 pm and they will lock you in. I speak from experience.

Not a mocktail. What can I say, I like my alcohol. 
As tempting as alcohol is in the summer, it actually raises your body temperature so a nice alternative are some tame libations. A crodino is totally alcohol free, but looks fancy and fun. There are many Mojito sodas now that are the non-alcoholic ingredients of this classic drink and there is always the Sanpellegrino drinks like Aranciata whose fizziness distract you from the missing alcohol. If you can't go without alcohol (and many of us can't), Campari and Aperol have low alcohol content (10-11%) or simply put, there is beer, evermore popular and available in Italy.

A Granit-ina at the famous Sant'Eustachio
Apparently Sicily is known for granite, so I can speak to this better after next weekend, but I already know that a little drink filled with often-difficult-to-find ice, is a great treat. Granite should not come from a little spinning machine. It should be in a proper steel container where the ice can soak in the juice of its name: Granita di caffe is chunky ice-soaked coffee. Granita di limone is ice-soaked lemonade. You get the idea.

In addition to taking public transport,
waiting for it is just as bruta
No-Go Zones
Avoid places that will make you want to skin yourself alive, or rather skin other people alive. These places include the Metro B line, the Colosseum, the old buses (which is most of them), the Permesso di Soggiorno waiting line (though being here is never by choice), Via del Corso during the Saldi, and worse of all, the Porta Portese market. You are much more likely to choose life if you avoid these spots.

Autumn will come soon enough so I am trying not to wish this summer away. So I will revel in the solutions above and when that doesn't work regress to my mental happy place: The North Pole.