First, a little backstory. It’s been hot here in Italy for the past week. So hot, that in Rome last Friday I got heat rash on my lower calves that didn’t go away ‘til two days ago. So hot that the ants who’ve been wreaking havoc on our plants and flowers by covering them in aphids have been hiding underground. So hot that the cactus on one of our balconies died. It’s been really hot.
Needless to say, we don’t have air conditioning. What we do have is lots of windows and terrace doors. Which we can’t open.
Because we live in a valley between some hills and half our house is on stilts above a little river, at nighttime it cools off some twenty to twenty-five degrees bringing the temperature from “inferno” to “sweatshirt & cut-offs”. Outside.
Inside, the house stays at “fourth circle of hell”. The outside walls that bake in the sun all day retain the heat and transfer it through the concrete into the house which averages a temperature of about thirty degrees Celsius. Because the flies and the mosquitoes like to come inside and Italians don’t like screens (or they didn’t when this place was built), we can’t open the doors and windows to let in the breeze.
We were sitting at the bar with F. in what used to be a piazza but is now really just a strip of the SS4 with some parking spots, getting eaten by mosquitoes as the sun set behind the south hills when V. asked a very important question.
“Oh. Where can we get the, you know….Nancy, how do you say in italian?”
“Um. Wait. I know the word,” I started. “Shit. I don’t remember. I don’t have my dictionary.”
I resorted to crossing all my fingers in front of my face in some demented lattice-type gesture. “You know, “ I said in Italian. “Per le finestre. Aria, si. Mosche e zanzare, no?”
After laughing at me, F. said, “Zanzariera?”
Of course. So we went to the store and got this fab netting that you attached to Velcro strips that you stick to the window frame and now we have “air, yes. Flies and mosquitos, no.”