In continuing on with my “hot” stories about Italy (part 1 can be found in the recent posts menu), I’m going to break it down into two sections (with some additional stories on the side). I’m starting with Venice, since that was a little different from the other areas we visited. In reading the next few posts, I must mention that the overwhelming detail, for ALL of the places I visited, is this: there is hardly ever any relief from the heat/humidity. It is relentless, and I was sweating from the minute I walked out of our hotel until the minute I returned at the end of the day. Nighttime offered some relief, but not in Venice. Also, remember that this was during an “unusual” heat wave in June/July–I’m not sure if this was just a freak thing, or if this is representative of a normal hot summer, but this was my experience, and I have heard some similar stories.
So, Venice. On my less-than-24 hours stay, I will tell you that the humidity level there was astounding. There was a small breeze in St. Mark’s Square, sometimes on the promenade on the south side, and on the gondola, but that was about it. It was not enough to completely dry my sweat.
When you’re not in any of those places, and you are joyfully getting lost in the alleyways (or, “streets” if you dare to call them that), there will be nothing even slightly akin to a breeze. I estimate that at least 50-70% of your time will be spent navigating alleyways, and there are hundreds/thousands of people right there with you. Let that sink in for a moment. Yes, you will be in St. Mark’s Square for some of your time (disregard this if you plan to spend all of your time there), but, depending on where you’re staying, the rest of the time will be spent in the alleyways looking for St. Mark’s Square, looking for how to get away from St. Mark’s Square, going into the shops, and looking for food/water.
When you head into the evening hours, while it is slightly “cooler,” and there are not as many tourists, and the sun is not beating down on you, there is still not a real breeze (unless you are in one of the locations mentioned earlier). At least, not when I was there. Sitting by the water helps, if only to mentally trick yourself into believing that it is cooler there. It’s probably not. And it’s also a little stinky (but not too bad, as it was in the old days, apparently).
So, let’s address some other things you might do apart from gondola riding and pigeon-feeding. During your visit to this beautiful and captivating city, you will inevitably need to rest/eat/drink/attempt to dry off. Next up:
Eating and Drinking in Venice (when it’s really hot)
We had our first “Italian” meal in a little pub-like place which looked a bit like a cellar, and it was not awful in there. It wasn’t overly hot (it was the beginning of our first day after arriving, so, maybe I’m being kind), the food was good, and I had my first of many Aperol Spritz’s. Know that if you’re trying to not be “tourist-y” and looking for a place to eat which is away from St. Mark’s Square/Rialto Bridge/Promenade, it means that you’re going to be in an “alleyway.” Remember the 50-70% of time spent there? No breeze. So, there is a trade-off, and I’ll let you decide on this. You can eat in a “tourist-y” place near the popular areas and possibly pay too much for so-so food (but there may be a chance of a breeze), or you can eat in a not-as-tourist-y place in an alley and get decent food and hopefully they have an outdoor fan with mist. Not sure how much the mist helps when you are already soaking with sweat (and I’m not exaggerating here), but I’ll leave that to you. I’m also going to quickly add here that we had no bad food in Italy, regardless of where we ate: we were trying to go native as possible and trying to avoid menus written in English, but really, sometimes you just need to sit down and eat something.
After wandering and looking around and happening upon St. Mark’s Square, and then more wandering and looking around, we were ready for a break. Our second “meal” was in an alleyway/street restaurant (a quieter alleyway, so, not as many people), where we essentially collapsed into the chairs and racked up a big drink bill. There was a misting fan there, which made us hopeful, but there was a couple hogging it up the entire time, so, unless we sat in their laps, we would not reap the benefits. The meal comprised of about 33 Aperol Spritz’s, a Campari Spritz (not as nice), and I think we ordered an appetizer because we felt like we weren’t providing a good impression of Americans. Spenser also had grappa. It was fun, but it was still hot with no breeze. It’s good to note that you don’t care as much about breezes after 33 Aperol Spritz’s.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering why we didn’t just go into a ristorante with air conditioning. Well first, many of them looked to be rather expensive, and truthfully we weren’t really wanting a full/heavy meal. Second, most of them were in the “tourist-y” areas. And third, most of them had outdoor cafe seating, and many of them had the “inside” doors wide open to the outdoor area. My father would have had a fit. What little air-conditioning they had was likely dissipated by the 145% humidity coming in from the outdoor area. Unless you are completely closed in with no outdoor area, you may not likely be much cooler at an inside dining establishment, even when you see the sign “We have A/C.”
Drinking things other than Aperol Spritz’s in Venice
As I’ve mentioned before, it is important to try to keep hydrated and to drink some water whilst traveling. While Italy is pretty glorious in the fact that one can wander around with alcoholic beverages in hand, it is probably best to try to squeeze in some water on occasion. So, on an almost final but very important note, be advised that there were no or very few public drinking fountains in Venice, akin to the ones in Rome. We did not see any that I can recall. (And truthfully, I might have been nervous about drinking it there.) This means you will have to buy your water (so your refillable water bottle, unless it’s gallon-sized and keeps the water cold, will be of no use. And on a similar note, the heat and exhaustion will make carrying a mere 1-liter bottle feel like an extra 20 pounds on your shoulder, so, be warned!). If you need to conserve your money, try to buy it in a grocery store away from the main attractions.
So, a quick run-down:
- everywhere that is not St. Mark’s Square or on the southern promenade or in a gondola is hot with no breeze
- if you want to eat in a place that has A/C, make sure they keep their doors closed to the outside cafe area
- if you want to eat outside with the chance of a breeze, for food which some may consider “overpriced” and “okay,” go for something in St. Mark’s Square (or southern promenade area)
- don’t bother bringing your refillable water bottle, buy your water from a market/store away from St. Mark’s/Rialto
- Extra tip: buy one of those hand-held fans that you see everywhere. I didn’t, because I didn’t want to be a silly tourist, but I regretted it. Even Italians use them!
I will probably be doing a separate post on Venice (what we saw, the gondola situation, the pigeons situation, etc.), as I wanted to keep this one focused on being “hot” in Venice; that one will come up a little later. Next up, how to be hot in Florence and Rome.
“But really….It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”