This is not your grandfather's Tuscany.
I had a rather disturbing conversation with a friend yesterday. She was doing okay, so was her family, but then she told me about her trip to Tuscany this summer. She spent several weeks at an art school near Florence—heaven, right?
Not quite. Tuscany, and all of southern Europe, was baking under a heat wave this summer. And Tuscany is not air conditioned. They've never needed it. Nor did they traditionally need mosquito repellent, yet my friend reported, along with the 108 degree temperatures, they had to endure mosquitoes coming in through their open window. It seems Tuscany did not traditionally need window screens.
I suspect the mosquitoes flew in from England, where we were having record rainfall and floods.
My friend said after about five days they couldn't bear the thought of covering themselves with repellent every night, and just let the buggers bite. But the upside was everyone else was covered with welts too, which made for a nice bonding experience.
Personally, I'll take AC over bonding any day.
But it turned out mosquitoes weren't the worst thing to result from the heat wave.
A few weeks ago our news was dominated by news of the forest fires in Greece. The whole country had turned into a hell on earth, with people trapped in villages, seeking refuge on beaches, escaping sometimes with only the clothes on their backs.
The Greek government tried to blame the fires on terrorists, but since there were over a thousand forest fires in neighboring Bulgaria this summer, that story seemed suspect. My friend told me they saw fires burning in the hills of Tuscany, and without a volunteer fire department—not traditionally needed in Tuscany—they just burned.
Global warming, terrorists, what's the difference?
It's one thing for Texas to turn into a dust bowl—miles of it were uninhabitable wasteland anyway. And the North Pole melting—well, its lone human inhabitant, Santa, was already planning to retire to Florida. And without misery in Africa, Sir Bob and Bono would have to, like, sing or something.
But Tuscany—that's just not right. It should not be 108 degrees in Tuscany. You should not need to include mosquito repellent on your list of Things To Bring To Tuscany. You should not have to ask if there is an alternate escape route from your hillside Tuscan villa in case of fire.
When all the essential ingredients of a foodie lifestyle—EVOO, porcini, prosecco—are threatened, isn't it time to get serious about our nasty little addiction to carbon?
"Don't Mess With Tuscany." Now there's a catchy slogan for enviro campaigners.