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What temperature is cold to Italians in Tuscany and Lazio?

I ask because I’ve been the past two Octobers, when the low has been 50 and the high has been 75, and the locals I see are wearing down jackets and scarves, even the school kids and even in the afternoon when I’m peeling off a layer and getting a sunburn.

Just curious. Have found it an interesting localism.

Posted by
7756 posts

Smiling because the same has happened to me in Paris. Last March I was comfortable in a long sleeve quarter zip Dri-fit over a SS tee while the Parisians on the Metro were wrapped in wool coats, heavy scarves and gloves!

Posted by
20718 posts

Just go to Miami when it below 50.

Posted by
1112 posts

It not just the outside temperature. We stay in Liguria in a typical stone house without much insulation and an undersized heating system. The moist cold quickly makes overdressing fashionable.

Posted by
180 posts

I suppose compounding the oddity of it is no one seems to turn the heat on yet. If it’s cold enough to insulate yourself with goose feathers, you think they’d flip the radiator on in the evening. I’d appreciate it because I have to dry my clothes each evening and want to hang them over the radiator.

Posted by
3470 posts

Ryan, it's because utilities are so expensive there.

Posted by
180 posts

Gerri, that’s interesting. Most explanations I’ve heard are that Europeans have a higher threshold for what’s hot and a lower one for what’s cold, and I’ve heard that some cities don’t allow hotels to turn the heat on before a certain date.

Posted by
11981 posts

It has nothing to do with the cost of utilities. Natural gas is not overly expensive.

It has to do with the law.

An old Italian law passed during the oil crisis of the 1970s to save energy (and now still in the books to help combat climate change) establishes the periods when central heating can be turned on according to the climatic zone each municipality is located.

There are 6 climatic zones established by the law (Zone A through F).
Zone A is the warmest (Southern Italy and main islands, except for at high altitude)
For zone A heating can be turned on only from December 1 to March 15 and for no more than 6 hours a day.
At the other end of the spectrum is Zone F (Alpine zone) which has no limitations.
The municipality of Florence and Rome are in zone D. They can turn on the heating on Nov 1 until April 15, but only 12 hours a day.

Posted by
2334 posts

As far as clothing goes, I’ve heard from Italians that t’s not really tied to temperature but to season. October is fall so everyone wears fall clothing, even if it’s hot. A cold day in June will have people in summer clothing so it goes both ways. It’s interesting for sure.

Posted by
11981 posts

Regarding wearing heavier than expected clothing in October, even when temperatures are warmer than usual, it has to do with social norms of a country that, at heart, is still somewhat formal and conservative.

Basically in Autumn you are supposed to wear autumn clothes, and people and neighbors will talk behind your back if you wear shorts in October (that irresponsible behavior is tolerated only for foreign tourists, who are notoriously unsophisticated slobs).

You should have heard my mother lecturing me about my American acquired bad taste when I dared to go downtown Florence in shorts during my visits in warm days of Spring or Autumn. I could still hear her talking about the “vergogna” (shame) and the “brutta figura” with the neighbors or acquaintances who might accidentally see me downtown in those “conditions” (Bermuda shorts) in the middle of October or April.

O Tempora! O Mores! Shorts in October! What is the world come down to?!

Posted by
1769 posts

To piercing and tattoos. I.e. Real italy, where the "bella figura" way of saying is used only for vulgar jokes.

Robbe' di questo passo finirai col parlare come lo zio d'America che si compra Fontana di Trevi da Totó!

Posted by
11981 posts

Dario, le vecchie generazioni la pensano ancora oggi come mia madre ultra ottantenne. Ed anche qualcuno della mia generazione, che pensa che i pantaloncini d’aprile non sono appropriati per andare in centro a Firenze. Ho un’amica d’università mia coetanea che non considera appropriato vestire con le maniche corte in centro (wtf?). Fortunatamente i giovani italiani sono più aperti e meno soggetti a queste fesserie.

Posted by
11683 posts

When we spent the month of October in Venice three years ago, I was surprised to see the local women wearing black winter coats even at the beginning of the month, when it was still warm. ( assumed they were local when I saw them walking small children to school in the morning, or greeting friends on the streets or at the grocery store).

It was like it was a scheduled thing, rather than a response to the actual weather. Now Roberto has explained it.

Posted by
2898 posts

I was in Sicily one December and January and observed stylish young matrons on the passagiatta in full length mink coats when to me it was cardigan over tee shirt weather. On the other hand, I have seen girls in San Francisco on typical Bay Area summer days ( 59 F with a cold wind blowing), and they were clad in spaghetti strap camis, miniskirts, and flip flops. One word explains it all, “fashion.”

Posted by
14014 posts

Do not discount the influence of fashions. Here in Israel, I see lots of women in stylish boots and jackets on very warm fall days while I'm still in short sleeves and sandals and trying to walk on the shady side of the street. Winter here is short, so if they'd only wear winter clothes according to the temperature, they'd have few opportunties.

Posted by
616 posts

For me
50 is rather cold and you need a cotât and a woolen scarf
70, you still need a jacket and a light scarf
75 you need the jacket but not the scarf
80 is warm and a light dress is ok. You can start going to the beach.
90 is hot and perfect for beach
97 is very hot and you are burning.

Posted by
23851 posts

I'll say 97 is hot! Just three degrees off boiling water!

Posted by
3838 posts

Ha - we were in Bologna on our first trip and the morning we left it was a nice crisp 10-12C or so. Hubs and I are still in our light jackets, unzipped...meanwhile, the folks who lived there were in heavy coats, scarves and gloves! We just giggled.

Posted by
9450 posts

Hahaha Nigel!

Regarding scarves in Italy, I have seen them worn with sundresses. You can't be too careful when it come to colpo d’aria.

Posted by
1568 posts

Aside from a fashionable standpoint, wearing a sheer scarf in the hot, direct sun can protect your chest area from sun damage further on.

Even driving, the strong, summer sun can wreck havoc on you if wearing a tank top or tops that have deep scooped, rounded or lower necklines; especially if one has delicate, sun-sensitive skin.

Posted by
5899 posts

This sounds like the locals in Tucson when it goes down to 65, ski jackets!

Posted by
11701 posts

Grazie for the belly laugh, Roberto and Dario! 😂
(Thank you too, google translate!)

Posted by
40 posts

Hello, an Italian here. Maybe in October you saw a lot of women wearing very short down jackets, the kind which ends at the waist. They are called 100 grammi (as in their weight, which is very light), and they’re just as warm as a fleece. When it’s very cold they can be worn under classic wool coats, which are not as warm and cozy as a polar down jacket, but are more elegant, so now there’s this trend among women of overlaying a 100 grammi light down jacket under a stylish coat.

Posted by
1568 posts

aless, when I was in Rome a couple of times in the month of December, I saw Italian women wear the knee length, "down puffer coats." The beige, toasty brown or champagne colors were very popular. It was stylish, cinched at the waist, not bulky. I even saw them displayed in store-front windows. I love scarves and wear them in different ways.

When I was in Italy and Sicily in the Autumn months, I did not see too many with coats or heavy jackets on regardless of the season. Aside from travelers, I saw locals wear light attire including my friends and their friends.

Posted by
40 posts

Hello Girasole, yes you are right, down puffer coats are more popular than coats and they are getting more and more stylish, and I wear them myself. About coats I was actually thinking about Milan, which I think is the city where you can find Italians dressed to the nines (not everybody, not everywhere, but fashion there is so important). But maybe in the inbetween seasons you also noticed those snug short puffer jackets, light and quite flat, not bulky. Women and men alike wear them.

Posted by
1568 posts

About coats I was actually thinking about Milan, which I think is the city where you can find Italians dressed to the nines

Aless, yes! My Italian friend and I saw a woman waiting with us at the train platform. Her makeup, clothing, and hair was "Vogue" perfect.

But maybe in the inbetween seasons you also noticed those snug short puffer jackets, light and quite flat, not bulky. Women and men alike wear them.

Yes, I have :)

Posted by
7756 posts

Roberto and Dario! So funny! (and yes, thank you googletranslate)

Laurel, thanks also for The Local link about "a chill".

I guess the reverse is also true - here in North Idaho most of the teenaged boys wear shorts most of the year including in the snow. These kiddos are tough!

Posted by
231 posts

Pam--thanks for that information about teen boys wearing shorts in the snow. I work on a university campus in Southern California and every year I see guys wearing shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops in December, even if it's raining. I always thought they were going home to the snowy Midwest for Christmas and talking about how it's so warm in California that they were "wearing shorts and flip-flops just last week." Now I see it's just their usual winter wear.

On the other hand, female natives break out the sweaters once the daytime high is going to be below 70F. As Chani said, the cold weather season here is so short we jump at the chance to wear our "winter" clothes. Last year was wonderful with enough rain and chill that I actually had a chance to get tired of my sweaters!

Posted by
11981 posts

Laurel’s mention of the “colpo d’aria” reminds me of my relatives.

In Tuscany we call the “colpo d’aria” a “FRESCATA” (literally a strike of fresh air).

It can be caused by anything: going from a hot environment to an air conditioned one, or a sudden draft caused by a fan or open window., opening the refrigerator without a shirt on.

The “frescata” can cause all kind of ailments: cold, influenza, pneumonia, arthritis (colpo di strega), congestion, and if prolonged, even death.

If you show up sick with a cold, the first thing you hear is “Hai preso una frescata!” (You got a strike of fresh air)

The fear of a “frescata” is the reason why many Italians set air conditioning to kick in at 77-80 F (25-27C). My father used to start arguments with me when I turned on the fan in Florence 100 F weather. He never installed air conditioning in our house, not because of lack of money, but because of the ill effects the FRESCATE would bring to our health (Yes, I grew up in Florence without air conditioning because of my parents’ stupid “frescata” myth)

Posted by
1769 posts

It will be a myth, but every time I enter an US style air-conditioned building my C7 discopathy Starts screaming.