The outdoor temperature in Rome has dropped to below fifty degrees F., and the heat came on around the city yesterday. Most apartment buildings have central heating that is regulated by condominium votes. By law, the heat must be turned on by November 15, and most buildings wait until the last minute. Even in very tony neighborhoods, this is the norm.
In some places I have lived, the heat comes on for a few hours in the morning and then goes off until early evening when it reappears for a few more hours. In the place where I’ve lived for the past eight years, the heat is always off in the morning. Yesterday, it came on at about six p.m., and probably went off around eleven. By that time, I had tucked myself into bed with my hot water bottle, so I’m not sure of the exact time.
When the weather gets colder in January and February, the heat will probably run from about one p.m. At least, that’s been the practice in the past. Fortunately, the weather has been extremely mild this year.
In recent years, some people have installed heating/air conditioning systems with individual controls, but most of the people I know with these systems still use them sparingly.
Because I never have heat in the morning and because I like morning showers, I bought a little heater that I use to warm up the bathroom in the morning. After my shower, I roll it under my desk to take advantage of its lingering warmth.
I’m lucky that my apartment is well-insulated. My window wall faces south, so unless a chilling wind blows from that direction, I’m usually warm enough with sweaters and extra socks. I just bought a fabulous pair of bedroom boots (they’re not slippers). They have removable cushions that pop into the microwave for a couple of minutes and keep my feet toasty warm.
When I first came to Italy many years ago, I wasn’t accustomed to the rationed heat. Even though my first apartment had an individual control for the heat, I caused a major problem by turning my heat up high. The furnace couldn’t handle the stress and belched soot all over the apartment adjacent to the furnace room. I rented a portable gas heater, and I cringe now to realize how dangerous that probably was.
Now, I’m used to indoor temperatures that reflect the outdoor ones without too much contrast. Thus, when I go outside on a cold day, I’m not shocked by the cold. And in summer, I don’t wilt immediately upon exiting a building. I now find the extremes of central heating and air conditioning in the U.S. very uncomfortable.