Suddenly, it's already cold here! A few weeks ago I didn't even need a jacket, and now I need warm clothes and gloves. I wasn't expecting such an abrupt change in the weather. The past few days it's been cloudy and in the 50's. Back home, temps are still in the 70's! When I was packing my clothes in August, I didn't consider that I would need winter clothes, so I only brought a few warm things and several jackets, but no heavy coats. I've managed to find a few inexpensive sweaters and a pair of gloves at the outdoor markets, and am layering the clothes I have.
Scarves are a common sight in Italy at any time of year, but in the fall and winter, they are a necessity. Both men and women wear scarves, and not just for fashion. The streets are drafty and cold, and scarves help to minimize the effect of the cold. I've always enjoyed wearing scarves, and have a nice collection of them that grows every time I'm in Italy. But I could use some lessons in how to drape them creatively as I see many others do here. Scarves are also handy in cold, drafty apartments, another common experience in Italy.
This week I turned on il riscaldamento for the first time...the heating system. Many buildings have riscaldamento centralizzato, which means that every flat's heat is controlled by the owner of the building, who decides when to turn on the heat and at what temperature to maintain it. Often the city regulates when heat can be turned on and off, due to the limited and expensive resources in Italy (gas, electricity, etc.). I have riscaldamento autonomo in my apartment, which means I can turn the heat on and off as I like. But I'm not sure how to read the gauges yet. I have a small travel clock with a thermostat on it, and that helps me keep track of the temperature.
The heating system in my flat uses radiators, which are also nice for warming clothes and towels. But unlike my furnace at home, I can't keep the heat on all day and night, as it would be much too expensive. So I'm learning to live with temps in the low 60's, and turning on the heat for a few hours at a time. Once it gets warm, the apartment stays comfortable for many hours, and I don't need the heat at all during the night. One thing I miss having here is a bathtub, but it's best not to have one because of the expense of using so much water and heating it. That's one thing I'll look forward to doing at home this winter.
The sun is shining again today, so that will help heat the apartment during the day. Ah, simple pleasures!