21 March 2007

Primavera Italia

Weather & Wool

One of the things we enjoyed when we lived in New Mexico was the great weather, almost 350 days of sunshine and moderate temperatures. Since Albuquerque is in a semi-arid zone we had minimal precipitation and for many winters the nearby mountains lacked enough snow to allow for skiing. This winter however has been quite different for New Mexico as there has been an abundance of rain and snow since last spring and I read one story from there declaring that the multi-year drought is over. Albuquerque is now back to her normal temperatures of around 70 degrees with lots of sunshine.

Ascoli Piceno on the other hand has had a very dry winter while we are here; we have not had any snow in town which the locals tell us is unusual. I have also seen articles in the newspaper about the lack of mountain snow pack and that the rivers are unusually low and recently that Italia has set a record for the warmest and driest winter in 200 years. Things we commonly heard in New Mexico but which appear to be out of the norm for Ascoli. This does not mean that it has not felt cold for us here in compared to Albuquerque.

March has been mild here, but for the past week we have been seeing reports in the papers about winter coming back for another visit and it has been the talk of the town when you mention how nice it is outside. Monday it did cloud up and is a few degrees cooler but so far no winter weather for us though we have heard of snow in other parts of Italia to the west and north of us. When we lived in New Mexico I had little use for sweaters as most winter days the sun was out and in the car it would just be too warm for layers of clothing. This winter here in Italia I have lived in sweaters: wool sweaters. Our apartment has limited direct sunshine with the low winter sun so it feels cooler than I was used to in New Mexico but a nice wool sweater solves the problem.

Wool in Italia is a bargain, I have three sweaters that are at least 70% wool and I paid no more than 10 Euro for each one at the weekly mercato. Granted they are not top line quality but the style and color works fine for me. Wool blankets also start at less than 50 Euro in comparison to when we were in the US looking for one for our bed the prices started at least double that amount.

Any drive around the countryside in Marche or Abruzzo will show you why wool is such a bargain here – there are sheep everywhere. There are herds of them just outside of Ascoli and you can spot groups of various sizes on hillsides when driving to the north and south. I imagine soon they will start to see the shearer’s clippers to become next year’s sweater fashions.

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