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  • Writer's picturejmcsperitt


Every year, the same thing happens here. It's cold, like bone cold, because it's humid even during winter. This means it's foggy, dark, and hard to see. It's damp, dreary, and rainy. Most people assume that Italy is hot and sunny all year round, but Imola is just as miserable in the winter as many other worldly towns. It may even be worse than my native grey city of origin - Seattle, Washington - because of the large variation in temperature from winter to summer. Worse than the weather, however, is the light, or lack thereof, during winter. It's dark all but maybe eight hours a day and the blackness mixed with fog makes Imola seem like it's in a haze. I feel tired, unmotivated, and ready to hibernate. I'll rise again when spring sets in and my allergies reawaken. I'm usually pleased from April to June because the temperature is perfect and the light has started increasing, however, we quickly pass from spring sneezes to 90 degrees, sweaty afternoons, and the dear sweet longing of a swimming pool. By August, the heat has escalated to a point that has me ready to move. I hate feeling sticky, dizzy, and standing repeatedly underneath cold water for relief.

Italian summers are, in fact, all about water. You have to be in it or you'll never survive it. I know from experience and I've found many ways to enjoy it. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I think I've found it nestled so far below the main road that it seems almost impossible to arrive to it. I don't know why it took me almost eight years to find local swimming holes, but I have now, and I'll be continuing my quest for the riverside's best. River water is clear and fresh, and runs all through the wilderness. You can swim beneath the rocks and trees, and look around at the steep cliffs and sprawling green. Waterfalls cascade down on the people below, the scenery is really incredible, and so are those who come to enjoy it all. River people are my favorite people, and they're anything but typical. They pack a picnic with their family, pets, and friends, and bring themselves to the riverbed where they lie along the rocks like they're as comfortable as on mattresses. They are hippies mostly in case you hadn't guessed. They jump off the rocks into the water, strum music on their various instruments, and relax in the vastness of what nature has provided us. Here's one of my favorite spots in all of its gloriousness:

August hotness is why Italy bails out on work in the summer. Everything and everyone shuts down and heads to the beach, and rightly so, as the swelter here is unbearable. The beaches are numerous since we're surrounded on three sides by blue seas and various rocky or sandy places to swim happily. I also grew up surrounded by water in the Pacific Northwest, and I love the sea as much as anybody, but I sometimes find the beach atmosphere here a bit snobby because this is a totally different brood from the river-loving hippies. These people have got their sun chairs, umbrellas, and beach bags prepped and packed to a tee. I've got to start taking notes from them actually because I feel like I'm always forgetting something. The families here are well prepared because they've been doing this for years and they'll keep doing it for eternity. They lie all day under the sun's rays in what I'm positive is an unspoken competition to see who can become the darkest. It's a sign of richness to have all the time in the world from June till the last sunny day in September to be kissed by the sun's warmness. I'm usually there just slathering on more sunscreen for protection. Most say that the water in the region of Emilia-Romagna where I live isn't the prettiest because it's not that clear blue color you see in Italy advertisements, but it is one of the most organized areas in the country with beach bars and sun chairs perfectly aligned in a never-ending configuration of parallel lines.

Lastly, but definitely worthy on my swim list, are the local pools because those are beautiful and plentiful also. We've got vast open public pools, private pools with grassy banks for afternoon chats and drinks, and my favorite of all favorites, typical city water parks with slides or another with 22 pools built onto a hillside! Whatever your water preference, you'll be happy to get into it and stay in it till the 100+ degrees with humidity has finally diminished.

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