Everyone loves Summer right? You can head to the lake or the beach at the weekend for a spot of sunbathing. People are that bit happier, nicer, friendlier – maybe due to the extra Vitamin D we get. The promise of BBQs and Beer gardens is enough to get us through the week and the possibility to heading off for a week or two on holiday is what we’ve been looking forward to since New Year.
Verona in Summer is hot, humid and full or tourists. I have friends from Sardinia and Venezuela who suffer from the heat here! It’s the humidity that gets you, it makes your makeup slide off your face after 5 minutes, gives you the sticky sweaty sensation on your skin as you scurry in and out of the shade and makes it seem hotter than it really is. Now, I’m British and we’re not really used to this kind of weather on our lone breezy island. Summer is usually
a week, few days day or two of clear(ish) blue skies and sunshine where everyone strips off even if it’s just over 20degrees. The rest of the Summer is spent encouraging one another that we’ll have an ‘Indian Summer’ in September…
Cycling round Verona on my dash to work I see hoards of tourists from every nationality, downing bottles of ice-cold water, trying to cool down with an ice-cream as it drips onto their feet or hiding in the shade. But even though I see all these people, there is a group of people I don’t see a lot of – the local anziani – senior citizens.
Take a look at the picture at the top or search for people in Summer on a search engine. What you’ll find are pages and pages of YOUNG people jumping around on the beach, drinking cocktails or sitting round a camp fires wearing Hawaiian shirts. This isn’t reality for most people and certainly not for our older generation. For most of them Summer isn’t something to look forward to. It isn’t a time of freedom or hanging out in the sun. It can be a time of isolation. It’s too hot to go out. To tiring even going to the supermarket. Worrying about the sudden changes in temperature from the outside heat to the chill in shops and prefer to stay in their cooler houses – usually alone.
I was listening to the radio this morning and I heard that 1/3 of Italy’s population are classed as anziano. That’s a lot of people. A lot of people to be feeling trapped and alone during a whole season.
There is a lady I meet up with fairly regularly. A couple of years ago her husband died very suddenly and her only son lives abroad. I know that as Summer approaches she gets more and more anxious. ‘Too hot, too hot’, she tells me in her limited English. The house is dark, the blinds are down and the doors closed. I can imagine how lonely it must feel, waking early and sitting in the house all day – feeling trapped. Waiting until it’s a little cooler to tentatively head out, but by then it’s already after 9pm and my friend doesn’t feel too safe going out alone.
She loves reading, goes through 9/10 books in a couple of weeks and is currently addicted to Netflix. I’ve had some very funny and surreal conversations talking about Orange is the New Black and even more as I had to explain what ‘Breaking Bad’ actually meant. And though it’s great to have these entertainments I am always struck by her constantly checking that I’ll be coming over next week too, just for an hour or so of company in this stifling heat.
I hope that those of us who love this season will make an effort to go and visit our elderly relatives, friends and neighbours. Check up on them, keep them company, offer to get their shopping or go with them to carry their bags. Summer is not just for the young and sun-seekers, everyone has to live through it. Let’s not forget those we don’t see on the streets or in the parks but be aware of the closed shutters and dark houses.
Remember, they were probably like us years ago, and we may not be so dissimilar to them when we’re older.