When is the right time to de-cloth in Rome; to admit that maybe, just maybe, summer has arrived? When is it acceptable to wear sandals and not be stared at on the train? When are bare legs not going to invite looks of serious disapproval?
|Legs, legs and more legs. May.|
In Rome we take these decisions very seriously. The change of season is always a particularly dangerous time health-wise. Any health complaint is greeted with, “Well it will be the weather/change of season.” The problem I find is that here the seasons never seem to stop changing, therefore I always feel under the weather. Whereas in Bradford, we seem to have now accepted a perpetual year-round lull of 15 degrees and overcast skies (or am I being optimistic?).
Spring to summer is also culturally treacherous, exposing the tourist and the new to Rome to mocking, haughty superiority and sweaty decisions. When temperatures can reach almost 40 degrees in high summer, with disgustingly high humidity, you (and your clothes) have to pace yourself. You must acclimatise. You really can’t go summery too quickly. It’s the law. My Italian friends worry when they see tourists in May in strappy dresses and sandals, “What will they wear in July and August?” they ask aghast. No toes out until June advises Roberta. You’ll regret it come August if not. They don’t realise of course that for us temperatures of early 20 degrees are more than enough reason for summer wear to appear – when else would we be able to wear our summer clothes if not?
So, to distance yourself from the average flip-flop wearing tourist (first one of the season spotted in March – I was still wearing a scarf and winter coat!) learn the rules. You know when you’ve settled in Rome when you find yourself one of the starers, tutting at the shorts and sandals brigade tramping through the centre. Don’t they know there’s a nasty chill in the air? They’ll catch their death! Tut. Roll of eyes.
But if summer is really in the air, you must do your cambio di stagione (the transfer and replacement of all the winter clothes in your wardrobe with your summer attire). It’s a favourite topic of conversation and a bit of an obsession. It can invoke stress and panic and therefore must be thoroughly and carefully planned. Have you done your cambio di stagione yet? is constantly asked. Tips are shared – make sure you keep out a few light sweaters, September could be chilly. (Last year it was 30 degrees). Catching cold is a crime.
|Toes are out, but it was August.|
In the north of England, we don’t have this problem. I realised when I came to Rome that my work clothes were the same all year round. More layers in winter and less in summer, but that’s about it. As I type it’s a balmy 25 outside. Still in jeans, long sleeved t-shirt, socks and pumps. I’ll do the cambio tomorrow.