The Hottest Day
What would you like to read about when it’s cold and rainy outside and your heater takes three good hours at work to finally defrost your fingers? How about I tell you all about my hottest holiday – when clothes were not even optional, just a hindrance? And lying on the cold tiles on the balcony (yes, san clothes) was one of the only ways to keep a little cooler and be able to sleep.
Six years ago I lived in a tiny little town out of Venice called Spresiano for the summer. During the day, as with any Mediterranean city, the few shops in the village shut between 12-3 p.m. each day, and unlike the 60 per cent of European people who speak English as a second language, this town was filled with locals who rarely came into contact with anyone who didn’t speak Italian. I absolutely adored it, learning to buy my bus tickets in and out of Venice from the crazy lady at the news agency who taught me how to say ‘return’ and ‘one-way’, and the fresh market that came through every Thursday where you could buy fresh seafood and local meats. I lived here during June-August so the heat was extreme – I’m talking high of 40 at nighttime. I was also there during an intense heat-wave, which I certainly felt.
My normal day went something like this: Sleep in until around 10-11 a.m., make a fresh Italian coffee on the stove in the percolator, eat a yoghurt, and chuck the lightest possible clothes on to walk the 5-10 minutes to the supermarket. I went most days to buy things to eat for lunch, and to cook for dinner, and taught myself to make fresh pasta! (First attempt was not so great. Note: remember to make strips much, much thinner or you’ll eat pasta rubber.) Then after the supermarket venture, I came home and started drinking spritzs – don’t judge me, I was on holidays and I was taught from the man I was staying with! It’s the way of life, I swear. (For those who don’t know, a spritz is Aperol and Prosecco, and your first one probably won’t be all that enjoyable, especially if you’re like me and don’t like orange-flavored things. But your second … well, that’s something else.)
As the afternoon sun heated up, and I lived upstairs in an apartment with no air con, there was no chance to do anything but either make the decision to trek into Venice and get the water taxi to Lido and lay on the beach, or stay at home and watch my houseguest’s huge collection of DVDs! The amount of LOST I watched that year… Plus, everyone is having a siesta, so even if you wanted to go out, everything is closed (by everything, I mean the three shops in the village).
In the afternoon, if it had cooled at all I went for walks around the cane fields to get some exercise, but mostly during that big heat-wave I just stayed in and attempted sunbaking – which was five minutes sun, 30 minutes cold shower, and repeat. The nights were terrible at times because it was SO hot and uncomfortable there was absolutely no respite. I literally used to lay outside on the balcony with just a pillow and try and get my body temperature down!
I stayed here because I was on my first-ever European holiday, was young and full of myself, and quickly ran out of money. A family friend took me in and let me stay with him, took me to a Duran Duran concert on the beach and gave me generally amazing hospitality. Not a bad way to run out of money at 18 and have to spend your time savings your pennies!
By Madelin Baldwin
Le Monde Entier [#593]
The Hottest Day