19 August 2018

The Good, The Bad, and the August

There are things I love about Italy.  Pizza and wine are good and cheap! I was allowed to take my dogs in to get the pizza and the wine. There's no rush to finish your food and vacate the table.  They will leave you sitting there all night unless you ask for the check. Italians will tell you that you speak Italian well even if you don't.  They just appreciate that you try.  Many "prescription" drugs can be bought over-the-counter.  This is super convenient! It's a complex culture...men will live at home with their parents until they get married (because a woman has to take care of them) but they will also wear pink skinny jeans and carry a man purse.  The definitions of masculinity are blurred.

There are things that I don't love about Italy.  Most places are closed on Sundays (especially in small towns) which means I have to do my errands like grocery shopping on Saturday and if I'm traveling, well, Allorah!  Many places close for riposa (basically the afternoon nap) including things like the gas station. Restaurants don't open until 7pm (or later!) and even then aren't ready to serve you food.  It's my bed time before you can eat :( The train system is privatized so there are several companies offering train service which makes it confusing and the so-called competition does not make it more efficient.  The Dutch and Germans have much better, cleaner, on-time service.

Weekday gas station hours (closed from 1230-1430).  They are only open in the morning on Saturdays and closed on Sundays.

Italians know how to August! August is the month when most Italians take vacation.  Who cares that there's an economy in decline.  Close the store/gas station/manufacturing plant for a month and go on holiday!  I'm not joking.  Not everything closes for the whole month but plenty do.  File this under "things I don't like." The gas station is closed for 2 weeks.  The cabinetry manufacturer (I work in construction) is closed for the whole month. Your car breaks down...there's a good chance you're waiting until September to get it fixed (my friend is facing this problem right now)!

Sign at the gas station.

I usually don't travel in August because places are crowded, prices are higher, trains are packed, roads are traffic-jammed.  But this past weekend I went to one of the local termes.  According to the community's website:

Abano Terme, the most important and oldest thermal center in Europe, stands in a location at the feet of the Euganean Hills and in the center of the Veneto Region.  Its name comes from the Greek, "a ponos," which means that it takes away pain.

According to legend

Hercules and his heroic companions set off from Greece to defeat Geryon. Finally exhausted and worn out after having killed him, they were restored by the miraculous virtues of that hot water and did not want to return to Greece. Also attracted by the beauty of the surrounding hills, they stayed to live there. The hills were named Euganean because of the nobility of their descent. The spring that had given much relief to warriors was called Aponon in Greek. Hercules himself, in order to purge the evil to Geryon, built a temple in Abano in his honor, permitting him to become an oracle. As Suetonius wrote, this legend was well known in the Roman world; the emperor Tiberius, one day when he was travelling to Illyria, wanted to listen to this famous oracle and he got a peremptory response, precisely to throw gold dice into the spring, exactly where Abano stands today, to be advised about his fate. Legend has it that the dice made the water precious, giving it special properties that can heal various diseases.

There are multiple hotel and spa complexes with pools of varying temperature.  Generally, getting into a swimming pool the temperature of bath water when it's 85-95 degrees outside is not my idea of a good time.  But I needed a get-away and it's close by.

One of the things I love about the Italians is that, despite having some rigid rules about how to dress (no sneakers at dinner, you wear a coat because it's November whether it's 80 degrees or 20 outside) they seem to have no issues with wearing whatever you want while swimming.  All types of bodies were on display and almost every woman, regardless of age or size, was wearing  bikini.  There was no expectation to cover C-section scars, belly rolls, back fat, cellulite...  Men wore trunks or tight little shorts or speedos.  Everyone walked/sat around as if their body was completely acceptable just the way it was.  As it should be!!  Seriously, that was the best part of the weekend for me.

I didn't take a lot of pictures because the rules said not to.  Now, the rules also said no smoking was allowed but people did that.  The rules also said no dogs were allowed but there were several. One rule that is strictly adhered to is the swim cap rule.  Everyone must wear a swim cap.  Even bald men!

Everyone wearing their swim cap!

Are there peculiar rules where you live? Do people know how to August?