When American people think of Italy, the kinds of things that tend to pop into mind are images of people tanning on sun-kissed beaches, historic monuments illuminated by the warm sun, and Sophia Loren riding around on the back of a Vespa in a short skirt with stylish sunglasses on to keep the bright sun out of her eyes. Our image of the bella vita is generally lots and lots of sun and warm weather.
I hate to be the one to shatter anyone’s image of Italy, but we do have winter here and it does get cold.
My family and friends back in the USA were surprised when I would call from Italy in December or January and talk about how cold it was or explain that we got a light dusting of snow. The fact that I needed a jacket, hat, scarf, and gloves to go out was something that really bowled them over and, I think, ruined their sun-filled ideas of Italy.
Italy does have pretty good weather most of the time, but we definitely do have 4 seasons. Winters in Italy are less harsh and shorter than in many other parts of the world, but it does get cold here, particularly in the central and northern parts of the country. Coming from Boston, I can tell you that winters in Italy are nothing at all like winters in the north-east part of the USA. I mean, it snowed on Halloween in Boston this year. Just imagine all those poor little boys and girls dressed up as Spider-Man or Cinderella who had to don winter coats over their costumes to go out trick-or-treating. However, Italy still feels the chill of old man winter.
This winter, in particular, has been quite cold recently and has seen lots of snow hit the country. Well, “lots” for Italian standards. Here in Milan we had a good few days of snow and places like Bologna and Rome really got pummeled by powder!
The funny thing is, since winters here are not normally that bad, when it does snow a lot Italians always seem to be caught off guard and unprepared. The Italian news reports on the storm referring to it as a “Snow Tragedy: schools and roads closed – thousands stranded in their homes” when it Boston it would just be called “We Got Some Snow – scrape off your car and get your butt to work“.
My parents now live in San Diego, and it’s the same sort of thing that happens there when it drizzles. People in southern California just aren’t used to rain (lucky them) so when it does rain a little bit, people go crazy and freak out – boarded up in their homes and driving haphazardly off the road. My Boston-born parents can’t help but snicker at this. They survived years and years or “nor’easters” and certainly aren’t going to let a little rain slow them down!
Here to prove my point, and convince the more hardened of you “Italy is always sunny and warm” believers, are some pictures of the recent snowstorm that buried Rome.