Keep cool on a tuscan holiday
Get 1 year from 27.50 €

Digital and paper subscriptions available worldwide

Subscribe now

Keep cool on a tuscan holiday

We all adore the sunshine!, In particular, sun-deprived northern Europeans and North Americans love to holiday in a hot country. Here are a few friendly tips from ?northerners? who have made a life-study of how to keep cool in the midday sun! They apply to you,

Thu 23 Jun 2005 12:00 AM

We all adore the sunshine!, In particular, sun-deprived northern Europeans and North Americans love to holiday in a hot country. Here are a few friendly tips from ?northerners? who have made a life-study of how to keep cool in the midday sun! They apply to you, but especially to small children, who can be quite unhappy with a change of climate. Following are five commandments so your holiday will be a wonderful experience, a feast for all five senses, enriched by the Mediterranean sun.



1st Commandment

Keep the house cool. Much as it goes against the Anglo-Saxon grain, when you wake up on the first day of your holiday and see that beaming sun outside, shut it out! Yes, resist the temptation to throw open all the windows. Windows should be left open during the night and in the very early morning as long as the air temperature outside is cooler than inside. Then start closing the shutters. When you can feel the sun?s heat coming through the shutters, then shut the windows too. When the sun sets and it gets dark, remember that electric light attracts all kinds of insects, so keep the shutters or windows closed. You will be amazed how cool you can keep the house like this. Air-con is rare in Italy ? by choice. It is generally considered to be very unhealthy: bad for the skin and lungs! The above-described system is magnificently efficient, environment friendly, and healthy!


2nd Commandment

Dress like Lawrence of Arabia. Northerners, on seeing the sun, tend to fling all their clothes off and stroll around in flimsy sandals and a strappy top and shorts. People used to living in very hot countries, you will have noticed, don?t do this! In fact, you will be more comfortable under a hot sun if you wear loose, light-coloured, natural-fabric clothing. You are never going to get a proper suntan walking around a town centre anyway, so why not put on a hat, wear cool linen, tennis shoes or flat practical sandals (remember that feet swell in the heat), and short-sleeves.  Note that Tuscans do not bare their bodies until a suitable tan has been achieved beside a pool or on a beach., Even better, slap on the factor 60 and watch everyone else shrivel up like a walnut!


3rd Commandment

Eat as the Romans eat! The Mediterranean diet is famous all around the world for many reasons. One of them is that it is light but at the same time nourishing ? very necessary in a hot country. So do as the locals do ? if you?re thirsty, drink water or fresh fruit juices. Fizzy drinks/sodas and alcohol make you feel worse in the long run. Ice cream is NOT a thirst-quencher, but the fruit-flavoured ones are less sickly that the cream/chocolate varieties. Try te freddo (iced tea) or granita (fruit-flavoured crushed ice) too; both are heavily water-based. After sundown is the time to enjoy a good bottle of Chianti. A couple of espresso coffees will boost your blood pressure, but too many will give you the jitters; this stuff is much stronger than the US/GB apology for coffee! Take time to sit down and have a midday meal (you?re on holiday!), avoiding foods rich in animal fats and sugar, but full of those wonderful Tuscan vegetables, pastas, and fresh fruit. Junk food is definitely OUT. Oh, just one detail ? if eating ?al fresco,? no Italian would ever sit in the full sunshine to eat. Sit in the shade.


4th Commandment

Keep cool on the move. When it?s 35? outside, inside a parked automobile the temperature can reach 50-60?! Don?t ever leave children or animals in the car even for a few minutes. Even if it means walking a few yards more, choose a parking space in the shade (remember though, that the ?shade? moves!). Try to avoid sitting in traffic jams under a relentless Tuscan sun. If using public transport, you are unlikely to find an air-conditioned train, coach, or bus. Air conditioning is far less widespread in Italy than it is, for example, in the States ? the waiting rooms of railway stations are hardly ever air-conditioned. The best advice is to do your travelling early in the morning or, if that is impossible, after sundown. Walk on the shady side of the road wherever possible., And always have a bottle of water in hand.


5th Commandment

Organise your day.  Imitate the local habit of doing active things very early in the morning or in the early evening. Many shops and even some museums take a very long lunch-break anyway. Consider the delights of an afternoon siesta ? after all, you will need some energy for the long Mediterranean night ? many open-air cultural events are scheduled quite late., Keep the middle of the day for moving at the very farthest between the lunch table and a shady hammock by the poolside


Parting thoughts :

The sun is a wonderful invention

provided you can get out of it.

Start cool, think cool, and stay cool.

Hunt for the shade.

Related articles


Tomorrow’s Leonardos: the United States and Tuscany

The U.S. Consulate in Florence was established exactly 300 years after the death of Leonardo.


Rental diaries, vol. 22

My mother calls something a “Rear Window experience” when it fails to live up to great expectations (“I’m excited to take you to this restaurant. Sure hope it’s not a ...


Florence Cocktail Week is served

Building on the success of previous editions, Florence Cocktail Week returns this May with a celebration of dressed-up drinks. Organised by Paola Mencarelli and Lorenzo Nigro, the event, which runs from May 12, will feature masterclasses, roundtables and tasting sessions.