Italy burned this summer and not just figuratively but literally: over twenty-thousand fires ravaged the peninsula, the result of the devilish partnership between the strong maestrale winds from the northwest, lo scirocco from the southeast, sizzling heat waves, and the heavy hand of pyromaniacs unfortunately. For example, a fire in Vieste (Puglia) in early July devoured the woods which had miraculously escaped the tragic Gargano peninsula blaze in July, 2007. Luckily, this summer’s fire was put out before it spread.
Like the world over, metereologists here too have adopted the tradition of naming storm fronts and weather systems, except the naming conventions used here are unequivocally Italian. What were some of the names given to the succession of blistering hot anti-cyclonic fronts from Africa that battered Italy this summer? Annibale l’Africano for one, after the Carthaginian general who caused such trouble to Ancient Rome. Followed by who else but Scipio Africanus, the Roman general who was even tougher than Hannibal and defeated him. Only an Emperor is stronger than a Roman general, so the following heat wave was none other than Caligola, scourge of Rome according to Suetonius. (Supposedly made his horse a priest.) And the fourth front, hotter than all the others? None other than Lucifero himself!
Phew… after all that, Italy has now cooled off, thanks to the arrival of lovely, sweet
Beatrice, named after Dante’s muse. Cool weather and summer rainstorms ( finalmente!) swept in from the Atlantic at the end of August, chasing away Lucifero and the other boys.
“Dopo Lucifero e Beatrice, ora arriva Poppea”… we’re due for a clout of rainy weather with a drastic drop in temperatures, named by meterologists “ Poppea“, Nero’s favorite lover who later became his empress and according to Tacitus apparently died while pregnant from another sort of clout: a kick in the stomach delivered by Nero.
After the truly difficult summer for so many, we’re not quite sure what that means weather-wise.
An Umbrian tour guide in Italy most of the year, Anne also teaches Umbrian rural cuisine in private homes in the U.S. in February and March (see
Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s and rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for Anne. She writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. See www.annesitaly.com for more on her tours, cooking classes, lectures – and her blog! Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment she and Pino now rent out!