Tuesday, August 21, 2012


As I write, we are in the throes of anticylone Lucifero, which comes to us from the desert and follows Caligola, Nerone and four other anticyclones since June. During Nerone, the temperature one day soared to 49 C in Modica Bassa and registered 45 C in this district.

It's a myth that only the British constantly discuss the weather:  the Sicilians do it too but, just as they have a different concept of holidays, so they have different ideas about what constitutes good and bad weather.  Where I come from, a temperature of 20 C is regarded as a heatwave and is sufficient to set the British tabloids screeching, "Cor! What a scorcher!" in their headlines but here anything less than about 33 C in summer is dismissed as "brutto" ["bad"].  Even Sicilians, though, are apt to complain once the thermometer shows 40 C and you would think that, after three months of such extreme heat, they would greet a little rain with relief.

Not so:  when the weather briefly broke ten days ago the rain and a few hailstones - admittedly the hailstones, because of the way houses are built here, sounded like a bombardment - caused widespread consternation and a friend I was with at the time even crossed herself.  Somehow I don't think an autumn break in Cardiff would be for her!

As most Sicilians spend the three months of high summer at their houses by the sea or in the country, the usual afternoon greeting is "Com'era il mare stamattina?" ["How was the sea this morning?"] and if there was the slightest ripple on the surface of the water, the answer will be "brutto".  A breeze will cause the sea to be described as "mosso" ["rough"]. What my Sicilian friends would make of the brave British who do daily battle with the winds in such locations as Weston-super-Mare I dread to imagine.

The serious side of all this is the spread of fire in the countryside during these heatwaves - one Sicilian firefighter has lost his life this summer - and the fact that meteorologists fear flooding in autumn because of the residual heat that will be given off by the soil.

We are promised a respite from the heat this weekend with the arrival of storm Beatrice. This rain-loving Brit awaits her as Dante awaited another Beatrice.

Henry Holiday
Dante Meets Beatrice at Ponte Santa Trinità
Image: Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK
via Wikimedia Commons


Patricia said...

Speaking of Sicilian weather...I recall being in Cefalù one September when there was the sirocco...hot blowing winds that carried red sand that covered everything.

Portlandier said...

We talk about the weather alot in Pacific Northwest in the US...it is always raining most of the year. Then the summer comes and it is blazing hot. Wonderful, finally! And we still complain...we are never happy!

Whispering Walls said...

The usual Bank Holiday weekend rain is forecast here...

Cuby said...

I am not at all sure what you would have made of the non-summer weather we have had this year. I am desperate for some vitamin D, not the bottled sort, just give me sunshine!

LindyLouMac said...

Great post Pat, it made me smile with your spot on descriptions. :)

Gledwood said...

Do you get the Sirocco blowing in from the Sahara? When I was in Malta they said it blew right across their island, every year.

BTW what actually IS an anticyclone? The opposite of a hurricane? Or what..?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Patricia. Yes, I've experienced that here - quite eerie. Hi, Portlandier. Just like the British, then! Hi, WW. Hope it cheers up for you despite the forecast. Hi, Cuby. I'll tey and send some over! Thanks, LindyLouMac - kind of you to say so. Hi, Gleds. Yes, we get the Sirocco and sometimes it blows in so much sand that the whole place turns yellow - not very often, though. As far as I understand it, yes, an anticyclone is the opposite of a hurricane.

Liz Hinds said...

I am sitting here with a polo neck on under my woolly cardi. And my bed socks are on! But I couldn't cope with 40 degree temperatures either!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi,Liz. I can cope most of the time but this year it has gone on too long! Is it that cold there already?


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