Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weird Italy

There's a lot of little things about living in Italy as an Anglo that you don't expect and find completely baffling when you get here. In the summer, very close to the top of that baffling list, is the baffling fact that Italians never, ever have screens on their windows, despite the entire country being infested with mosquitoes.

They sell them. I've seen them in hardware stores. But no one has them. And it's not like Italians are immune to mozzies, or like getting bitten or anything hyperweird like that. Every spring the shops all fill up their anti-zanzare shelves with 50 different kinds of repellant, citronella candles and smoking coils, electric bug-zappers et al. But the simple solution of putting screens on the windows appears to have totally gone past them as a nation.

One of the first things I did when I moved into my flat in humid Santa Marinella was march down to the ferramenta and buy several boxes of those mozzie-curtains and affixed them to all the window frames. I'm the only one in the building. I think I might be the only one in town.

I also put my childhood fort-building skills to work and sewed a bunch of the nets together to make one huge one, and built a net-tent for the bed. You buy those cheap expanding curtain rods and set them with duct tape on the four corners of the bedframe for tent poles, and drape the nets over them, holding it all together with tension created by clothes pegs.

I mention all this now because the curtain I put up over the big bay window in the sitting room fell down while I was out of town and I haven't put it back up yet. I opened the windows wide this morning to air out the flat, and as I was having my tea, a wonderful huge hummingbird hawkmoth just zoomed in like a dive bomber. I tried to catch it but it has gone to hide, and possibly to meet it's maker, in the living room light fixture. I hope it flies out again. So does Winnie.

The times I've had very interesting insects in the house have been the rare moments I've let the curtains down, and that's kind of fun. What isn't fun is the mozzies feasting on your flesh like invisible flying zombie-vampires, so the screen goes back up tonight.

But I don't get the Italian aversion to window screens.



BillyHW said...

Yes, I remember waking up in the morning after the first night at grandma's and finding that I had been absolutely eaten alive by mosquitos overnight.

Just be glad it wasn't a bat.

James C said...

It seems to be a European-wide mental handicap. I once asked my English co-workers about it, saying "What gives?" with a wild Italian-American flourish of my hands, and they just shrugged.

At least in Italy you have single water faucets that can accommodate both hot and cold!

Anonymous said...

When my husband and I married, we rented a house in a town that was mostly Hispanic (Mexican immigrants, for the most part). It wasn't long before I noticed that most of our neighbors had no window screens. I mentioned it to my mother one day, and she said, "Are they Mexican?" "Yes, why do you ask?" She responded, "Our tenants always remove the screens." I said, "They do? Why on Earth do they do that?" She answered, "They say that they can't see, and they claim that the breeze can't come through the screens. I keep telling them that they have to *clean* them, but they remove them instead of cleaning them."


Lorena B.