Friday, August 17

Hot Time..Summer in the City (I)

Well, summer has finally come to Rome, with its scorching hot 90 degree days; hot enough not only to fry an egg on the sidewalk, but to fry your own frittata – with onion.

As if Global Warming wasn’t enough, I suspect that City officials in Italy contribute more to heat stroke and their populace's suffering than anyone or anything on earth (and I don't mean the steam the politicians blow off time and again)...

Forget the CO2 emissions and cow gas and icecaps melting – for some odd reason, cities throughout the country think it’s a banner idea to make their sidewalks out of black tar.

Granted, it’s easier to dig up now and again - a regular feature of the Italian cityscape - as they lay wires and more wires and even more in order to get on and then stay on the Information Superhighway.
Here, however, they've taken that highway concept a bit too literally.

Haven't they noticed how Vespas list just before sinking into the sidewalk as if mistakenly parked in quicksand? Or, how women can actually walk right out of their shoes as their heels get stuck right in their melting path? I know of what I speak.

The heat emanating from the sidewalks is palpable long after the sun has disappeared. I imagine that, if someone really checked, they’d find that this is the number one reason for temperature rises throughout the country.

Milan used to be, like Amsterdam still is, a city of canals. Once they decided to pave them over with bricks, it was downhill from there. Now completely tarred, I have oft been tempted to toss broken glass in the melting tar at least to make it sparkle a bit. Sometimes, when walking my dog, I feel that I am sort of slowly braising him from the paws up.

It was no wonder that up until very recently, people parked willy-nilly on the sidewalks just as on the streets. Drivers would simply ‘pull up’ on the sidewalk to make a phone call, dash in for a quick espresso at the bar, grab a prescription at the pharmacy. It didn’t really matter where you left the car. The sidewalk was merely an extension of the road you had just been on.

And, that’s to say nothing for the aesthetics. One comparison between Milan and Rome and you can see how inviting it is to sit down at a sidewalk cafĂ© where the sidewalks aren’t actually just an extension of the kitchen ovens.

All I know is that whoever came up with the expression, ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get outta the kitchen’ has never left the restaurant altogether to be served out on the sidewalk.

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