We were recently chatting with a young American couple on a 2-week vacation in Italy - a bit of a dream holiday for them, so, understandably, they wanted to pack in as much as possible. They had given themselves a fairly rigorous schedule of an enjoyable yet exhausting whirlwind of all the main sites in several Italian cities (the usual suspects: Venice, Florence, Rome) but confessed that they had been overwhelmed by the richness and abundance of the culture in each of those places and felt like they needed a vacation from their vacation.
Happily, they found us (in actual fact they found us several weeks before they travelled and booked well in advance). Anyway, we whisked them out of Rome early morning on a wonderfully relaxing day trip - exploring at our new 'slower pace'. They tasted excellent wines, enjoyed a lot of delicious local cuisine, learned something of the territory's interesting history, but basically they were happy to chill out and soak up the beautiful countryside and said that it had been exactly what they needed … to get out of the city, breath deeply the fresh air and gaze out upon the stunning panoramas that the day afforded us, without having to think or plan or organise their own travel - a total 'no pressure' day as we did all of that for them.
We are always happy when we make others happy and above all meet or even surpass expectations.
If you think you might enjoy a brief hiatus from cosmopolitan life on your next visit to Rome then why not look us up before you travel to pre-arrange a stress-busting day trip of your own.
View our 'Out of Rome' private tours:
Temperatures in central Italy can be unpredictable around September/October. It could be sunny and even hot or chilly and wet. So layers is the way to go. Thin cashmere tops are good because they're lightweight and pack small into a suitcase but keep you very warm. A fleece or waterproof jacket with a hood would be one of my top choices, which (although I don't like doing this) can be worn tied around the waist if the temperature creeps up. You're also going to be grateful for lightweight waterproof baseball boots or trainers, which provide good comfort for all the walking you'll be doing. I was in Naples recently and forgot my own advice regarding the footwear and I totally underestimated how much walking I'd be doing.
We have a couple of courtesy umbrellas, which we lend to customers on our day trips, but also many of the higher end hotels will loan you one for the day if you ask. For men and women those zip-off trousers that convert into shorts or vice versa are great and look pretty cool. I particularly like Craghoppers.
As part of your survival kit you might like to include mosquito repellent and after-bite since they can be quite aggressive in September.
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.
Extra Notes - some great tips if you do find that you look like an uncooked sausage when you get back from the beach (or after having been exposed to the sun in general) … take a cool (not cold) bath and stay in for at least 15 minutes and repeat if possible at intervals. This I think takes some of the heat out of the body and actually feels really nice. If you only have a shower try wrapping cool damp towels on any pink/red area for at least 15 minutes and repeat if possible at intervals. Natural Aloe gel is said to soothe sunburn. Advice also includes taking Ibuprofen and drinking lots of water to rehydrate. Depending on how bad the sunburn is, stay out of the sun altogether for a day or two for the skin to recover.
This is not medical advice … I found these tips online on a reputable dermatology website and have to say the multi-pronged attack really helped. In the morning there was no pink in sight but I stayed completely out of the sun the next day. The only reason this happened to me when I'm normally so careful is that there was a strong breeze masking the heat and I forgot to put sun screen on my legs.
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.
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!