How to keep your tummy happy in hot temperatures and heatwaves.
During the hottest months of the year, which in Rome can be from as early as June to early September, it is a good idea to adjust your diet, in order to keep your organism 'fresh' and well hydrated, especially on very sultry days. Seasonal fruit in particular such as melon, watermelon, peaches and strawberries are great because they contain so much water.
Here's the shortlist:
We also have a few favourite recipes that we enjoy when it's hot:
We don't tend to have alcohol at lunch time when it's very hot (or the evenings for that matter) since alcohol is, by nature, dehydrating, but if we really fancied something with our lunch it would be no more than one glass of chilled white wine or prosecco, and in August we would stick to mineral water (still or naturally effervescent). For evenings my new favourite cocktail is a virgin Mojito!
NB: if you're not based in Rome (Rome has great-tasting clean drinking water) and you're not sure if your water is safe for washing salad you can use bottled mineral water. Find advice from the BBC on washing salad and veg.
I live in Rome - which is great - but during the summer I go to the beach to cool off! Some beach clubs are more equipped than others so, as a seasoned Italian beach-goer, and to cover every eventuality - I have a regimented, slightly obsessive list of what goes into my beach bag - and what goes on me!
Flip Flops - I don't like the ones with a toe post so I have them without. One pair I've had for over 10 years and they are still the most comfy pair I own (pictured bottom).
Espadrilles - I can't praise these enough. The natural fibres allow the feet to breath and they don't chafe because your feet don't slip in them and the tops are soft cotton.
Headscarf, sunhat and/or parasol - this might seem over-the-top but I've had heat-stroke and it was pretty scary! So when it's very hot (over 36°) I soak a headscarf in cold water, wear it on my head and then put my sun hat on top of that. The parasol is often required as well and just about fits in the bag.
Swimming Costume - obviously, or bikini...and a slightly oversized thin cotton top with 3/4 sleeves, which I keep on when I go paddling in the sea and need extra protection from the sun.
For Travelling - floaty palazzo pants and lightweight cotton or silk top, or loose lightweight cotton dress.
Anti-mosquito spray & after bite gel - I have sensitive skin so I use brands with formulas suitable for babies. I usually stick in a small tube of antiseptic or cortisone cream too (useful to have it, just in case).
Ladies 'things' - if you've timed it right this shouldn't happen but you never know...so, yes I carry one or two items to be on the safe side. Actually I did find myself in this embarrassing situation once. I had to leave the beach...go all the way into the nearest town...find a pharmacy...and then come all the way back to the beach. But it would have been sooo much easier if I'd been prepared.
Mineral water & sports drinks - kept chilled with those bricks from the freezer in an insulated bag (instead of having them turn into warm 'soup'). I also boost myself with magnesium and potassium mineral salts, since our bodies lose them when we sweat and need replenishing.
Sunglasses - the best quality lenses I can afford and that cover the entire eye area.
Sun-screen - I like Piz Buin Allergy 50+, Avène for intollerant skin, Athena L'Erboristica for sensitive skin, and La Roche-Posay Anthelios for sensitive/allergic skin. I don't know if my skin is allergic to the sun or allergic to some sun-screens when they're exposed to the sun, but these four products are great for my skin's particular needs.
Swimming costume bag - for wet swimwear.
Thermal spring water atomiser for face & body - an absolute must! I don't mind which brand it is: Evian, La Roche-Posay or Avène ... but it has to be in the bag! I love the sensation of the cooling mist on my face.
Two large beach towels - one for me and one for the sun-bed.
Shower foam & shampoo - I love Clarins Eau Dynamissante shower foam and L'Erbolario after sun hair and body shampoo which help get rid of sea salt.
After-sun soothing gel - when we've finished at the beach, showered and am ready to head home, I use after-sun gel to provide immediate relief for any pink or sunburned areas.
Before living in Italy mosquitoes were not part of my life - and apparently, as I've been told many times by amused locals - they must like my blood. During a particularly bad year on a weekend in Padua I counted 100 bites, from the top of my head down to my toes. I ended up a sweaty mess having decided to sleep in pyjamas and socks so as not to expose any further parts of my flesh (sadly the friend I was visiting didn't have aircon so we had to have the windows open or suffocate). Luckily I didn't get any scarring or infections from the bites (regular mosquitoes not Tiger mosquitoes), but still, that was a year I will never forget!
Since that weekend I always prepare myself before mosquito season begins - which can be from as early as Spring (March/April) if the temperature stays above 10°c. From March to June larvae are hatching so this is the best period to carry out pest control measures. Generally hotels with pools, gardens, grounds or water features should start doing this before high season kicks in (high season for both tourists and mosquitoes).
From June to September I'd suggest keeping mosquito repellent, and 'after bite' gel in your handbag and get some of those lovely yellow citronella candles if dining al fresco. There are repellents for skin application which contain citronella (odious to mosquitoes) but they are quite strong smelling, and odious to me also - plus I also have very sensitive skin so I usually opt for products suitable for babies. My favourite is the Chicco brand, and (I've not tried it yet) Monellini. Another brand I haven't tried yet is Flora, found in shops called 'erboristeria' (herbalist/health shop).
If you have a bad reaction to a mosquito bite (or any insect bite...) cortisone cream usually does the trick, or an antihistamine tablet, or in worse cases a shot at A&E (ER) but you should really consult a pharmacist who will be able to advise you. I have had bites which have swollen to 7 cm across and raised by about half a cm and have used cortisone cream, which gave improvement. If you get no relief from a bite or it gets worse it would be wise to get to a hospital.
On a similar note: last year we had a big problem with what I would describe as a very irritating cousin of the mosquito called pappataci (which literally means "eat silently" - which I believe are the same as Sand Flies (even though we are nowhere near any sand: Phlebotomus papatasi). These are smaller and can fit thorough mosquito screens. Unlike mosquitoes they do not buzz so you have no idea when you are being attacked. Their bites are quite painful and even more itchy than mosquito bites - I never thought I'd hear myself saying that I'd prefer mosquitoes!
We discovered that they attack during hours of darkness, since they are disturbed by the light. We also discovered that they travel in pairs so if you manage to kill one...keep a look out for the other. They move very fast and are not easy to kill but not impossible.
Unfortunately essential oils that keep such insects away are very dangerous for cats....and we have a cat. So alternatives include pots of Geranium and Incense on balconies and creating your own pappataci screen (I have used a fine white muslin to allow max daylight and fresh air to pass through). Last year I only managed a makeshift affair but the little monsters managed to get past the gaps around the edges.
To keep pappataci bites infection-free I used tiny dabs of pure Tea Tree essential oil.
Pappataci are mainly active between May and September. Personally we've found June to be the worst month.
The word for Mosquito in Italian is Zanzara.
The more aggressive Tiger Mosquto is called: Zanzara Tigre.
On a happier note there is a very pleasant bistro in Rome called La Zanazara, located on Via Crescenzio, which is quite close to the Vatican. A popular hangout for locals and tourists.
Final note: keep all kinds of essential oils and mosquito sprays away from part of the body such as inside the nose, mouth, eyes - basically all the places you wouldn't want to touch yourself accidentally with chilli pepper. Avoid wearing sweet scented perfumes, which may attract bees/wasps).
For further info in mosquitoes and pappataci: http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/healthtopics/vectors/sanflies/Pages/sandflies.aspx
Disclaimer: Laran Tours of Lazio accepts no responsibility for illness, misadventure or death arising from actions taken as a result of reading this document. The information in this document is meant only as a source of information and guidance. It is in no way meant to be taken as medical instruction or diagnosis. You should not rely on material here above and it is up to you to contact a health professional if you are concerned about your health.
Moovit - tells you when your bus, metro, tram, local train will arrive and journey times. Available for IOS and Android in 10 languages.
Around Me shows you where to find: banks, ATMs pharmacies grocery stores hospitals, hotels bars, restaurants petrol stations. It is fairly accurate in Rome and in parts of the countryside out of Rome (beware of areas with no connectivity though). Both Android and IOS versions in English.
My Cicero street parking App. You need to register your car reg. no. (this can be your own or a rental). Currently available in Italian, English & German.
Call Taxi is run by Rome council (+39) 060609 or use the App "ChiamaTaxi" available on IOS and Android [further info] www.taxiroma.net
Information has been taken from the Italian Ministry of Health website:
www.salute.gov.it and the NHS travel web page: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/travelhealth/Pages/SunsafetyQA.aspx
Last updated July 2015
In case of Emergency:
If you feel suddenly unwell and have any of the serious symptoms listed (such as with Heat Stroke), call "Emergenza sanitaria" telephone: 118, or 1500 which is a dedicated helpline for heat-related issues.
You can phone tel. 118 even if you have no money on your cell phone or are in an area of poor network reception.
DELICATE SKIN AT THE BEACH
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FEEL ILL
If you are delirious, very confused or very weak you should seek medical help or get yourself to A&E at the hospital.
If you have any of the symptoms listed below which do not resolve themselves with basic treatment within an hour or so, or which get worse, you must get to hospital or see a medical professional. Symptoms can be treated if dealt with promptly but in certain cases medical assistance is wiser.
CONGESTION - this happens when a person drinks something ice-cold in a body which is very hot, and can happen either during or following a meal. Excessive blood flow to the abdomen can slow down or block the digestive process.
What to do:
DEHYDRATION - this happens when a person loses more water than they take in. Normal daily intake should be 1.5 - 2 litres. When too much liquid is lost, as with high temperature or profuse sweating; when too much liquid is lost as with fever, vomiting and diarrhea; when a person doesn't feel thirsty so they forget to drink enough (esp. young children and the elderly); in cases where prescribed medicines increase water loss through elimination of urine, or for example where diuretics or laxatives are used.
What to do:
HEAT EXHAUSTION & HEAT STROKE - heat stroke can occur when one is exposed to high temperature for too long together with elevated humidity and reduction or absence of ventilation, in which the organism is no longer able to adapt to the ambiance and the body's thermostat can no longer regulate correctly. This can happen indoors as well as outdoors even when not in direct sunlight.
What to do: advisable to seek medical advice or get to hospital.
INSULATION - occurs with prolonged exposure to the rays of the sun. Serious but rare.
SUN-STROKE - a form of Heat Stroke occurring on direct exposure to the sun's rays, provoking raised body temperature. Unlike Heat Stroke though, the skin sweats because the person's body thermostat is still able to cope. Sun Stroke is often accompanied by sunburn so use a soothing cooling gel / cream on any burnt areas. With severe sunburn or blistering seek medical advice.
Little Dictionary of medical terms translated into Italian:
Pronunciation guide in brackets....
Disclaimer: Laran Tours of Lazio accepts no responsibility for illness, misadventure or death arising from actions taken as a result of reading this document. The information in this document is taken from the NHS CHOICES website and the www.salute.gov.it website and is meant only as a source of information and guidance. It is in no way meant to be taken as medical instruction or diagnosis. You should not rely on material here above and it is up to you to contact a health professional if you are concerned about your health.
Snow, Snow, Snow!