We have a very warm apartment. And warm it should be considering the eye watering contribution to condominium heating we have found out we need to fork out during ‘the cold months’ in Rome. That apparently is October until the end of April. This heating, comes barging in to our home whether we like it or not and makes its presence felt at the same time of day. Like a persistent and unwanted guest we’re just not sure how to get rid of it. On the other hand we don’t want to get rid of it since we are paying a flat fee for it. We are at a metaphorical all-you-can-eat buffet of central heating, and while we might not always fancy what is on the menu, we have already paid and we are going to make darn sure we have our fill.
Our radiators have two dials: one with a crudely biro inscribed ‘A’ and one with a ‘C’. One is for the apartment controlled heating (touch at your financial peril) and one is for the Condominium. Like everyone else’s here in Rome, while we are paying for it that dial ‘C’ is going to be cranked all the way to 11 and the ‘A’ dial is going to be soldered in to the closed most position. If you need to turn the heating down a notch – just open all your windows.
(We hope that logic prevails here and ‘A’ = Apartamento and ‘C’ = Condiminium. But something we are learning every single day is that logic is not always, if ever, the rule of thumb here. Let’s assume it has in this instance, or that the last tenant didn’t think it might be funny to switch the markings for a bit of a ‘game’. That would be fun…)
So yes, it is warm, very warm in the apartment as is every other apartment in our condominium, street and city. It’s not just the heating bills that keep the heating on either. If there is one thing that Italians live in mortal fear of it is catching a cold. Therefore, any type of precipitation or draft should be avoided; thankfully living in Rome means that one won’t come across these dark forces too often and the sub-tropical central heating is that extra layer of security. This week though is an exception, and the heating has been worth every euro. Starting with driving rain on Monday, right through to 50cm of snow that dumped on us on Friday, words cannot do justice to the havoc that a bit of winter has caused these parts. Un...believable.
We’ve all heard of a snow day – here last Thursday it was an official ‘pre-snow day’. All schools were to be closed on Friday purely because it ‘might’ snow. Today’s planned public transport strike (an almost weekly occurrence) has been ‘snowed-off’; talk about fair-weather activists. I can see their point though – why waste a day’s pay on striking for your rights if you can still get paid for a snow day and so not have to come in anyway? Schools are taking no risks either. We are about to go in to the fourth day of closures.
The recurring phrase this week has been “ma ... sta nevicando…”, a catch-all excuse for everything that doesn’t work. Not only spoken, also scribbled on the famous Italian impromptu panic messages that appear in public offices and shops and anywhere else that has a window. This lady here talks about this phenomenon more eloquently than I do.
At Piazza Spagna Fleur saw the Metro staff armed with bags of salt, but not really sure what to do with it. It’s like they were getting ready to season the Spanish Steps.
In my office, the facilities management team closed the building early (11 am, they only arrive at 9am) so that they could avoid the ice at night time because they didn’t have the right shoes. My question is this: what is a pre-snow day for if not arranging appropriate footwear for the next day?! Anyway, I am absolutely certain the fact it was Friday had no bearing on their decision, and of course we all know that ice is more slippery when it gets dark. Which is a good couple of hours after they usually knock off.
A high point has been watching people coming on to the street with actual ski suits. Presumably these are the only thermal clothing the Romans have, and judging by some of the garish colours and ‘snug’ fits of some of them, it hasn’t snowed here in a while.
I think Saturday I hit my biggest low since being in Italy. Rome had given up on pizza and, as a result I felt that it had given up on us, letting a bit of snow halt things in every conceivable way. “What is the point in Rome if we can’t get a bloody pizza?!” I wailed to Fleur having returned empty handed on a fruitless quest trying to find one solitary establishment who might be open on, let’s face it, what was little more than a chilly night.
As the snow in Rome subsides for another 27 years or so, we are determined to make sure that we enjoy our heating while we can and with those windows firmly shut.
|From our roof top|