last day before we leave for Italy and have one last crazy question - are there a lot of bugs in Italy - bees, mosquitos, etc. etc.??? Will be in Venice, CT, Florence, Rome and Sorrento/Amalfi/Capri/Pompeii.
Rob, I'm in Italy now and am not having a problem with bugs, although I have seen some bees and mosquitoes. You can get any remedy you need from a pharmacy or supermarket in Italy, you don't have to spend your 3-1-1 allowance on sprays or creams. The word for bees is "api" and mosquitoes are commonly called "zanzare" (spelling could be wrong on that one).
There are insects of course, but not in an unusual amount. Actually it's much worse in the Eastern coast of the US, because it's more humid than in Italy in summer. There are "zanzare" (mosquitoes) in Florence, because it sits in a valley that used to be a swamp. I usually carry mosquito repellant that you can clip to your belt, you can find it in most stores, like Walmart. I have't seen that type in Italy, but they have other types. In Italy they use a lot a product called Vape Mat. It is a little tablet placed on a little hot plate which burns the tablet slowly and emanates a substance that kills or keeps away mosquitoes. Not sure how safe it is to breathe for humans but I have grown up with it and I'm still around. Italians live longer than most people in the world, so it can't be that toxic.
Once in a pensione in Venice (and also in Orvieto) my room had a little device that plugged into the wall outlet like a nightlight. There was a note in the room about it. It contained a replaceable cartridge that, apparently when heated by the electricity, gave off a repellent that was odorless. I couldn't believe how effective it was. I was able to leave the windows open at night in a room that was canal-side (small side canal). There were mosquitos - I could see them outside but they didn't come in. It was astonishing. Have never been able to find anything similar in the U.S.
What Rose described is exactly what I was talking about. The infamous Vape Mate. It comes in many versions, but the principle is the same. I don't know if it's available Stateside. http://www.vape.com/en/prodotti_vape_volanti.html
Thanks, Roberto. And I'm still here able to talk about it, so whatever insecticide it uses didn't kill me. EDIT: I had to go find out what the active ingredient in Vape products is. It's allethrin, the first synthetic pyrethroid insecticide. It's made from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium. "Pyrethrins attack the nervous systems of all insects. When present in amounts less than those fatal to insects, they still appear to have an insect repellent effect. They are harmful to fish, but are far less toxic to mammals and birds than many synthetic insecticides. They are not persistent, being biodegradable, and they also decompose easily on exposure to light. Pyrethrum was used for centuries as an insecticide in Persia and Europe."
Tend to see fewer bees in the central parts of cities. They hang around flowers and are therefore more rural or frequenting gardens with flowers. Bees are good creatures and perform invaluable services to mankind.
Just got back, and from pretty much the same locations. Bees, not a problem. We did get bit every once in a while by what I can only assume were mosquitoes. No big deal, but they are there. I didn't feel that it was worthwhile to put any kind of repellent on as it wasn't a huge problem.
thanks everyone, this site has helped me a lot the last few weeks. We're leaving for Italy later today.