So May draws to a close and it finishes as it started with cold and rain. Like April before it the month has been colder than normal and with less sunshine. Indeed the mean temperature for May is just 15C which is well below last year at 17C ( which was also cold) and well below the normal 20C we expect. In fact March. April and May on average has been colder than Reading in the UK which might be okay except that we live some 1,500 miles to the south of Reading and therefore that much nearer the equator.
The only good news is the Italian Weather Bureau has forecast a cooler summer than normal which should mean we will have a scorcher . They are as good at 3 month forecasts as the Met Office in the UK but without the excuse that their computer is wrongly programmed to reflect global warming. Our local weatherman in Martina Franca this morning was delighted with the long range forecast. He and quite a few of the locals here loath warm weather. and find anything above 20C almost unbearable. They are happiest in thick anoraks and long johns it seems so April and May have been great for them as they haven’t had to take them off.
Whilst in the UK a couple of weeks ago I bought replacement waterproofs to walk in. The old ones had started to leak water and I would return to the house as soaked as if I hadn’t had them on. On holiday in Vietnam at Christmas I met a guy from Manchester who was a great moors walker in all weathers. One of those 8-15 mile a day guys who had all the gear and I asked him what to buy. Once he had got over the shock of someone from Southern Italy asking him about the most dependable wet weather gear, Berghaus he said and buy them from Amazon as you get the best prices. Well I bought the Berghaus Deluge over trousers as the reviews were great but their jackets didn’t get such great reviews so I went with Helly Hansen as the jacket is completely waterproof.
The other day on one of the Italian forums for expats someone coming down here asked what she should bring with her from the UK. The usual suspects were rounded up like Marmite, tea bags, custard etc but no one mentioned waterproofs . However if you live in Martina Franca ( rainfall 58 inches a year) and like getting out everyday to walk they are essential and far cheaper to buy in the UK.
The weather up here is fascinating as it is so unpredictable. I look at about three weather stations and there are also an array of local amateur weather stations dotted along the Valle D’Itria that have hourly info on conditions and rainfall etc. I am known as Meteo Mike ( Mike the Weather) in my local bar and every time in there I am asked what the weather will be like tomorrow and the day after. Many times I, like the weather channels, am wrong and take quite a ribbing but for 9 months of the year you are pretty safe with rain as the forecast which is then accompanied by groans around the bar as most of them work outdoors. I am not sure why they groan however as the majority of Italians who work outside do not go to work if it is raining or even looks like rain. Instead they head to the nearest bar and pass the day there going home only for lunch and a snooze in the afternoon before returning to continue the drinking and the card playing.
We often head down to Taranto when it is tipping down up here as it rains far less there and often you can sit comfortably in the shopping mall and look back up at the hills and the rain clouds while the sun shines on you.
Taranto is to be visited by our leader Matteo Renzi in a few weeks time. However the Confederation of Industry, the local unions and the mayor have already started sending him info on the town and it’s needs. The main priority they insist is that he doesn’t close the steel works that have been polluting the area for years. Jobs are more important they say than health scares and want to impress on him the need to keep things as they are. ILVA who own the plant haven’t paid their workers since February but that doesn’t seem to worry the unions who just see jobs as the important factor.
Yesterday an environmental group reported their finding on tests they conducted on new mothers living near the plant. They found that their breast milk contained 660% more dioxins than is allowed in milk sold in stores in Italy. Several unfortunately were found to be suffering from breast cancer as well.
The report will not speculate on the cause of this huge increase in dioxins which is not shared by mothers living much further away. But they do say that infants are hugely at risk from drinking this milk.
I hope Renzi is aware of all these reports as he reads through the daily missives he is now getting from the Mayor .
Well time to get the waterproofs on again and head down to the bar . I think I am on safe ground when I say rain tomorrow. Nice way to start flaming June.