So, this will be the first of a few posts regarding what “hot” means, if you’re traveling to Italy in the summer. If you have done your research and listened to stories, you will have heard that it is “hot” if you decide to go to Italy in the Summer. Most travel vlogs/blogs/etc. advise to avoid the summer and to travel in spring or autumn. This is lovely advice, but it’s not necessarily easy to follow if you have either already booked your trip, or you have no other option due to life schedules.
When Spenser and I were planning our trip, we knew we wouldn’t be able to go in the spring or fall due to his school schedule, but figured that maybe if we could go in June/early July, it wouldn’t be so horrible. Honestly, I don’t mind “hot” weather if I’m on vacation, because I’m not having to walk around in work clothes and dress shoes and all of that nonsense. Hot in your car/your un-air-conditioned home/office and wearing a full outfit of clothes with your hair and makeup done is different from hot at the beach, when you’re wearing a bathing suit and that’s about it. On my non-beach days I would be wearing all sleeveless items and breezy skirts and sandals, so, body coverings would be at a (slightly conservative) minimum. Further, I said to myself convincingly, we’d had way too much rain in our spring/early summer, and it would be blissful to have sun-filled days. So, I could handle “hot”…!
In the weeks before our trip, I was obsessing over the weather app on my phone. It always showed the weather to be generally in the mid-high 80’s during the day, 70’s at night, with not a lick of rain ever showing in the forecast. I could certainly deal with that! As we approached closer to departure day, I saw that it would be in the high 80’s in Venice, and in Florence (2nd day of trip), it was expected to be 100 degrees and in the high 90’s during our stay. I was somewhat concerned about this, but figured we would be inside for a few of our tours (2 museums and a church), and we had planned to “rest” or “picnic in a park” during the hot hours of 12-4. You know what they say about the best-laid plans……
In the many months prior to our departure, I researched a multitude of items and watched a bazillion videos. I knew I would have to keep myself hydrated on the plane and on the ground, so I bought a collapsible silicon water bottle (I didn’t buy a hard-side/stainless steel one because I couldn’t afford any extra weight in anything I was carrying). I searched for days/weeks for a purse/tote that I could carry around which wasn’t too big (more on that in a different post) or too small, wasn’t a backpack, was secure, and had a water bottle holder.
I did arm workouts every day so I wouldn’t be embarrassed to go sleeveless, and searched for dresses (didn’t happen) and skirts and shirts which were conservative enough to go into churches but didn’t make me look like a floral walking house/unfashionably fat American.
I tried to schedule tours for as early as possible so that the “unbearable” time between 12-4 would either be leisure time or time spent inside buildings where it would be cooler.
I booked hotels/B&B near city centers so we wouldn’t have to walk far from either the train station or to the local sites. Rick Steves was right about that, it’s worth paying a little extra money to be right in the “center” of the action.
All of these things were necessary, to be sure, but they still did not prepare me for the reality of the hot Italian experience. I had always heard it would be, “hot” in the summer, but I don’t think I truly understood what that meant. So, I’m going to tell you what it means, share my experiences, and this way you’ll all be forearmed. I’m going to add here that during my visit, it was considered unusually hot, even by the Italians. Most said that the type of heat we encountered was generally to be expected in late July/August, so, what we experienced may have been a rare occurrence, or it may be what you would face if you went to Italy in August…..Or maybe it’s like that, all summer long. Though I will caution you that I’m not the only one who has visited during an “unusual” heat wave, so, maybe this is a tourism trick.
In my next post I will start with Venice, how “hot” is defined there (apart from the good-looking natives), and offer some tips on navigating Summer (and/or a “rare” heat wave) in Italia.