The first thing you will notice about winter is that your Italian flatmates tend to feel the cold a lot sooner than your British flatmates do and therefore turn on the heating long before you would feel compelled to. But you think, that’s okay, I’ll just open my window and not complain. A few months later, though, when they show you the bills, you realise that in fact having the heating on while it is still warm outside is not such a small deal. Since the Italian government doesn’t give students free water and companies tend to charge much more for necessities in Italy, be prepared to sacrifice a bit for your comfort, but don’t get in a huff about it, because it’s Italy, so people just tend to take these high costs in stride. Enjoy the summer when it finally comes.
However, I did not realise that Bologna is not only in northern Italy, but it is tucked neatly between the Alps and the Appenines – the perfect location for snow and cold. Most of the winter, I watched my computer’s two weather reports and sighed in despair as I saw that Edinburgh was in fact many degrees warmer than Bologna. But the antidote is so easy – jump on a train down to Rome or a ferry to Greece, and you will again feel the beautiful sun bronzing your vitamin-D-deprived skin.
But just as a warning – you will need a coat and thermals!
However, the rather bright silver lining of the snow and mountains is obviously SKIING. ESN (Erasmus student network) organised three or four cheap trips to the nearby mountains to ski.
Also, a group of friends and I went up to Austria for the weekend – a train ticket to Innsbruck cost about 20 euros each way – so Austria is very much a viable option for a weekend. But then again, you can get down to Rome for about 20 euros each way as well, so I suppose it depends on whether you want to be warmer or colder…
I did miss having a warm bowl of oats in the morning, though, once the weather got colder – but I found some here! They weren’t the best, but they sufficed. Vocabulary lesson: ROLLED OATS = FIOCHI D’AVENA. I got them from a man in the mercato delle erbe on Ugo Bassi – he’s in the center, on the right side, surrounded by rice and dried beans.