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  • Hot in Italy
    Heat wave is suffocating most of the country and many are wondering what the consequences will be
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    AUGUST 26, 2007 - The biggest news out of Italy this week is the scorching summer sun's relentless grip on the nation. In Ischia and Naples, where much of my family resides, the temperatures reached in the hundreds (F) last week. June and July were just as bad, even in northern Italy, where summers tend to be milder. The heat is on - and it's causing our world to be topsy-turvy.

    For starters, desperate times are forcing Italian folks to act differently than they normally would - and to ignore ideas that were once considered hard and fastened rules. In recent weeks, the electricity has gone out because those who have air conditioners are actually using them, a rarity in a country where air conditioners have been blamed for everything from a sore back to influenza. At least in the south, many people prefer to forgo AC unless it is absolutely necessary. Some own only fans.

    This reality has people all over Europe - the temperatures have been soaring across the continent - concerned about a repeat of 2003 when the heat wave turned deadly. Many governments are asking citizens to check in with elderly neighbors and stay cool by drinking lots of water and staying out of the sun.

    Still, some people have chosen a livelihood that forces them to work outdoors. Marking the beginning of the Serie A soccer season, this weekend was another scorcher. The games kicked off at 3 p.m., when the sun was still strong. At least two coaches - Inter Coach Roberto Mancini and Udinese Coach Pasquale Marino - griped about the heat and how bad it is for the players and their health and physical condition.

    Ninety minutes of soccer is grueling under the best circumstances, never mind when the temperature is above 90 degrees F. "The heat affects us because we cannot play an intense game, and we can't create the kind of pressure that we want," said Marino, according to Goal.com.

    There is one group of people, however, who are startled by the heat but not quite complaining - wine makers. Many of them have had to start harvesting the grapes. Word is, according even to American newspapers, that some makers of Italian wine are scrambling to find seasonal workers now, one month to six weeks in advance of the usual harvest. For many regions in Italy, the harvest is usually celebrated with feasts in October, but not this year. Many of the wine makers are picking their grapes now, the earliest the harvest has arrived in some time.

    Some experts are saying that these high temperatures are a result of global warming and could continue to change our weather well into the future. For wine makers in Italy, that news could mean picking different grapes, which could change the taste and type of wine coming out of the Boot. Regardless, wine lovers are predicting that because of the strong sun and little rain, the grapes will be more potent and sweeter than ever, which could mean that 2007 will be a great year for wine just as they did in 2003. At least the heat is good for something!

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