Fresh n’ green

Fresh n’ green

You know summer's here when travelling on the bus is like stepping into Dante's steaming Inferno and you get the urge to lie naked on your floor tiles at night with a couple of ice cubes tucked under your armpits. Fortunately, there are many environmentally friendly ways to

Thu 16 Jul 2009 12:00 AM

You know summer’s here when travelling on the bus is
like stepping into Dante’s steaming Inferno

and you get the urge to lie
naked on your floor tiles at night with a couple of ice cubes tucked under your
armpits. Fortunately, there are many environmentally friendly ways to stay cool
and still get the most out of the sticky summer months. 





1. You know what I’m going to say: turn that air
conditioning down! Consider the fact that to cool your space, the air conditioner
spews hot air into the already hot space immediately outside your home or
apartment. If you truly need AC, then make sure that it is running as
efficiently a possible (have filters cleaned, for example) and that it is the
right size for the space it has to cool. The AC unit should be positioned on a
cooler side of your building to avoid over-working. Don’t cook a four-course
meal while the AC is running: the heat you produce means it has to work a lot
harder. This is not just about the environment, it’s also about avoiding nasty
surprises in your electricity bill.



2. Install a ceiling
fan. Fans use very little power and do not pump hot air into your surroundings
(and the air you breathe is natural). Dehumidifiers also use little power and
teamed with ceiling fans can make a huge difference. Remember to turn off the
fan when you leave the room: the fan cools you, not the air.



3. Hot, sunny Italy has those shutter systems for
a reason. They work. Close your
windows and shutters during the day
to keep the heat (and warming sunlight) outside. It may seem counterintuitive,
but it is the simplest way to deal with the hottest months.



4. Identify what
produces heat in your home. Studies show that 90 percent of electricity used by
incandescent light bulbs is lost in heat. Compact fluorescent light bulbs
(CFLs) give off 75 percent less heat and use 75 percent less energy. Turn off
all appliances when you’re not using them and don’t leave your fridge door open
any longer than necessary: the harder it has to work to stay cool, the more
heat it pumps out. Also, bright lights make you feel hotter, so keep the lighting
low when possible.



5. Use the power of
evaporation. Take a quick cool shower before bed and spritz yourself with water
during the day. You can drastically cool yourself by splashing your wrists,
face and nape of your neck with water. There are water fountains all over Florence (in Piazza della
Repubblica, for example) that are perfect for this.



6. Stop cooking.
Sweating over the stove is not an attractive idea in the summer anyway. Cooking
heats up you and your home, so stay away from the oven, especially during the
hottest hours of the day. Fresh, raw produce is full of thirst-quenching water,
too, which is just what your body needs. 



7. Drink tap water.
The water in Florence
is perfectly drinkable, so refill your bottles rather than bankrupting yourself
buying bottled water (and opening the fridge). It’s a waste of money and
discarded plastic bottles are a true eco-nightmare.



Green spots in Florence:

Stone, asphalt, and concrete absorb heat and then belt
it back out all day, making the centre of town hotter than ever. Luckily, Florence has many parks
where you can relax in the shade. For an interactive map of all the city’s
parks, go to


The Cascine is the largest park in the city and is
also home to Le Pavoniere, an open air pool, restaurant and bar that is open
all day and until 1.30am Thursday through Sunday. Entrance is 7,50 during the
day and 8,50 on the days it’s open late. You can also rent rollerblades in the
Cascine (behind Le Pavoniere) if you’re feeling energetic.


A great way to enjoy the Cascine is by bike. A cycle
path leads out of the park and all the way to the Parco dei Renai in Signa (8km
from Florence), meandering along the Arno. Parco dei Renai has four lakes and offers water
sports. Relax under an umbrella, take a dip in the water or just have a picnic
in the shade. Along with a bar and open-air pool, there is a huge play area for
kids, crazy golf, a climbing wall and a beach volleyball court. For more information:


Green vacation ideas:

Use your summer holiday to live the green’ right here
in Italy.
The Italian countryside is riddled with well-signed hiking and mountain biking
paths. Experienced walkers should check out the Italian trekking association
( for information on footpaths and mountain refuges. The best place
in Florence to
buy hiking maps and guides is Stella Alpina in via Filippo Corridoni 14/B
rosso. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the website ( is well
organised. Take number 2, 8, 14, 20 or 28 bus.


The Associazione Italiana Turismo Responsabile (the
Italian Association for Responsible Tourism,
is the oldest and largest of its kind internationally. It lists 91 recognised eco-sostenibile tour operators that work both in Italy and abroad. See also for
hotels and other accomodations that meet specific eco-criteria, such as serving
locally sourced organic food.


Kids might like the Green Energy Camp in the Apennines
between Florence and Bologna (,
which teaches children about outdoor living and appreciating our natural


Slow down:

Finally, and this has nothing to do with the
environment, follow the Italian example and go slow. No need to march around as
if on some crucial top-secret mission: you’ll just get hot and bothered. Stop
striding and learn the art of strolling. You’ll still get a bit hot and you
might be late, but you won’t feel such a flustered, sweaty mess when you
arrive. Happy summer!




environmental hot potato this summer is undoubtedly the planned TAV
(high-velocity train). The project is proving extremely controversial for its
long underground tunnels and huge subterranean station that opponents claim
will cause untold environmental damage. Signatures are currently being
collected by ex-mayoral candidate Mario Razzanelli as a first step in the
complicated process towards calling for a citywide referendum on the TAV. To
find out more about the TAV go to;
to see what its opponents say go to
(What do you think about the TAV? Let us know at!)  



Melissa Morozzo has been living in Tuscany for eight years and can just about
use the Italian subjunctive. Se io fossi in te, andrei a leggere il suo blog:


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