Brrr. It’s a little chilly here in Studio AP, where I put together these little dispatches from Italy’s version of Vermont. I could blame Vladimir Putin for the lack of heat, but that’s too easy. Besides, we have lots of propane right now. But the fact is, this is Europe in the Italyland province, and houses were built more to shield us from the heat of summer than the cold of winter.
I shouldn’t complain anyway. It’s January, and this month has been fairly benign. And it’s leagues better than the typical New York January, which I hear and my iPhone’s weather app tells me hasn’t been so bad this month for a change. And how’s this for role reversal? We had a real, actual, white, wet snowstorm earlier this week. It gave us lazy sods an even better excuse to build a fire and drink hot liquids and not do much else except for reading and finding good cooking videos on YouTube.
When people hear that you’re going to Italy, that usually conjures up a whole bunch of images. Golden sun, sports cars roaring along a curvy beach road, high fashion, great wine, and pasta. So much for high fashion: Most of the young and cool this week seemed to be wearing sweats, NorthFace puffy jackets, and Timberland boots. Yes, Timberland. The brand is huge here and there are Timberland stores everywhere, from the local upscale mall, er, sorry, centro commerciale to the main street in town where everyone walks up and down between 18:00 and 20:00 (6 pm-8 pm to you nord americani) to window shop, meet friends, and have a drink before dinner.
You might notice that there isn’t much of that here. Despite an app that told me it was almost springlike in Perugia, it was blustery and freezing and no one was lingering over anything, much less a cold alcoholic libation. In warmer weather, this pedestrian street is filled with tables and chairs and 20-somethings hoping to get lucky.
And how about the main piazza? Ditto.
We had to run a couple of errands in town. That usually means the aforementioned drinks while lingering at an outdoor table—a table set in the middle of the Corso Vannucci, for example, where that first picture was taken. We might meet friends walking around. And we like to go to the end of the street where there’s a nice cool green spot with a view of the Tiber Valley below. Instead, we rushed up the escalators from the Minimetrò (we parked the car in the big parking lot at the base of the hill) and headed straight to a clothing store to look for gifts. I was bundled up, but it didn’t keep me from looking longingly at some warm hats, I remembered that my coat has a down-lined hood and resisted temptation.
Then we ran to another shop. I can’t say anything about that because the thing we bought will be someone’s surprise. And we don’t want to spoil that, do we?
All good boys and girls get a treat at the end of this. I’d been jonesing for some Italian hot chocolate, and yesterday was the perfect time for it. We found our favorite bar to have it, and found a table. The waiter smiled when we told him yes please, with whipped cream on top. Italian panna, or whipped cream, isn’t sweet at all but it’s intensely milky. It balanced the luscious deep chocolate, which really is more like molten dark chocolate pudding. How could we not?
Otherwise, it goes. After a brief bureaucratic tussle over a supposedly unpaid bill for propane, we got a delivery. So now we old folks don’t have to build a fire if we want to stay warm. Turning on the gas will cost us, but when you stumble out of bed and need coffee and to stare at the walls and/or the scenery, the last thing we need is to empty out the fireplace, stack some wood in it again and set it on fire.
2 thoughts on “Winter sucks. But it sucks a little less here”
Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.
Thanks James. I plan to. In the meantime, feel free to browse the archives.