NO AIR CONDITIONING IN ITALY

Italy is basically without air conditioning. It is claimed there is some. However, you can’t prove it by me. I have yet to experience any.

Which means…..Hot and uncomfortable in Novara.

A person sleeps with the windows wide open. Need air! Sheets a bit sticky. Dying for air! Air conditioning!

The open windows invite mosquitos. Every night. My blood must be sweet in my old age. I am the recipient of several bites a night.

There are two reasons for the lack of air conditioning.

One is that Italy does not have nor ever has had sufficient electric power. The other is that most of the buildings are so old and with such thick stone walls that it is impossible to air condition them.

A lack of air conditioning is why Italians eat their big meal at lunch. It is too hot to stay in their apartments, let alone cook a big meal in the evening. Italians rush outside. Sit around till about 11 at outdoor cafes. Have a sandwich or pick on something light. At 11 things are cooler, though not cool cool. They return to home and bed. Pray to be able to fall asleep quickly so they will not continue to feel the discomfort of the fading heat.

Automobiles are involved with the air conditioning problem, also.

Most automobiles have air conditioning. However, it is little if ever used by Italian drivers. The reason is the cost of gasoline. Around $13 a gallon. The same reason why all cars are stick shift and small. To conserve on gasoline and save a dollar or two at the gas pump.

Italians drive with open windows. The outside hot humid air blasting in. They think they are cool.

When I am in a taxi or limousine, I wait a few minutes and then ask for air. The drivers always turn it on. About 20 per cent of what is required. The windows are shut. The air conditioning grossly insufficient. I start to swelter and sweat. I ask for more air. I generally have to repeat it several times to get the air to the point where I am comfortable.

Yesterday, I walked a couple of hours. Downtown Novara is an interesting place. Most buildings constructed in medieval times. Like 1,500-2,000 years ago.

I ventured into the side streets. Deserted. Narrow roadways. Just enough room for one small car to travel.

I got lost. No big deal. Saw a lot of old buildings. Some in good shape. Some in terrible disrepair.

I came across a small retail store on one of the side streets. In the window were Church vestments. The type Catholic priests wear when saying Mass. I went in. Fortunately, the proprietor spoke English. Yes, he only sold vestments for priests. He was actuTlly a mail order business. the vestments were made in Novara and shipped world wide.

I found the whole experience exciting. I was an altar boy for years. I used to get the vestments out for the priests, return them to the closet after Mass, and assist the priests in dressing before Mass. Brought back memories from 65 or more years ago.

It was a Church day. I passed what appeared to be a small Church. Decided to stop in. Catholic Churches are generally beautiful inside. A Mass was just starting. I am a fallen away Catholic . I have not been to Mass in I don’t know how many years. I stayed. For the whole Mass! Talk about memories from days gone by!

I went to a birthday party last night. In an Italian restaurant that served only Italian food. I was the only American. Every one else was Italian or from some other country.

My hosts were Italian and Moroccan.

The meal started with a large dish of assorted fishes. When it was placed before me, I thought I was supposed to take some and pass the plate on. No, each person had their own large plate.

I dug in. I could not finish. Left about a quarter of the plate. My Moroccan hostess was seated next to me. She looked at the dish and looked at me. You do not like, she asked. No, I am full. Are you sure? Yes.

Turns out it is considered an insult in Italy not to finish every morsel of food on your plate. It means you do not consider the food good. An insult to your host.

I thought the fish dish was it. We were done eating. No, the fish dish was an appetizer. Now the main course. Each person ordered off the menu. I order what the host ordered. Spaghetti in oil with clams. Spaghetti vongole.

A huge platter was placed before me. No American restaurant serves that much pasta in one dish. I dug in. I did not wish to insult my hostess further.

The dish was too much for me. I was splitting and uncomfortable. I gave up half way through. My hostess said nothing. I believe she was convinced I was full.

Interestingly, every one else cleaned their plates.

It was announced last night Silvio Berlusconi’s appeal failed. He is scheduled for jail. Because of his age, he is 76, he will probably get house arrest or community service for one year.

Berlusconi is an extremely popular man in Italy. Especially in the north where I am. He is also the political power in Italy. The news reports are clear that if Berlusconi is not treated properly, his party will probably withdraw their support for the present President and Prime Minister. Italy’s government would immediately collapse.

Even the appellate court that ruled against Berlusconi was/is aware of his importance and how he must be treated with kid gloves. Berlusconi presently sits in Italy’s national legislature. Under Italian law, if convicted of a crime, a person can no longer hold office. The court in its decision asked that that portion of the law be relooked at so Berlusconi could continue to sit.

Berlusconi is also presently on appeal for having had sex with a 17 year old. He was convicted and sentenced to a jail term. Last night after hearing of the appellate court’s ruling against him, it was reported Berlusconi said in effect…..Screw them, I am going out and pick up some young girls tonight! The reaction of the Italian people was to be expected. They loved his comment! Typical Berlusconi!

I leave for Courmayeur later today. The Alps. I will be staying in a Swiss chalet half way up Mont Blanc. Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps.

It will be cool. I have been told to bring long pants and a jacket. What a difference three hours traveling will make.

Enjoy your day!

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