Italy goes on vacation in August. Even in not-yet-normal times, shops are shuttered, restaurants closed, streets quiet. Cities empty as residents joins the esodo estivo (the summer exodus), the mass departure of Italians heading off for their ferie estive (summer holidays).
They buzz, bite, sting — and shatter the serenity of a summer day in Italy. Many of the insects (gli insetti) you might encounter in Italy are familiar foes. The fly (mosca), mosquito (zanzara), gnat (moscerino), wasp (vespa), bumble bee (calabrone) and tick (zecca ) are blood-thirsty predators. Others, such as the ant (formica) and beetle (scarafaggio) may be more interested in what’s on your table.
For years we sailed San Francisco Bay in a boat called Canto del Mare (Song of the Sea). When we started sailing in Italy, we had to master a new maritime vocabulary, starting with the names for various Italian boats (imbarcazioni italiane):
The beaches on the northern California coast where I live are beautiful, dramatic — and usually windy, foggy and cold in the summer months. As much as I love walking and running on them, none can compare with una spiaggia italiana. If I could, I’d spend the entire summer on one.
Italians sometimes describe themselves as “solari” (sunny, cheerful, radiant). Il sole italiano (the Italian sun) certainly has inspired il culto del sole (sun worship) throughout the peninsula. Could anyone other than Italians have written a love song to the sun?
I swam my way through the pandemic. As soon as Covid restrictions eased, our community pool reopened—with social distancing, which meant no more than two swimmers at a time. By coming late in the day I almost always have had the pool to myself. Lovely as it is to be in the water—any water—it’s not the same as swimming in Italy.