I have lived in this great country 15 years and I have raised my children here. During these years, I have learned a lot about the Italian way of being sick. The biggest threat in this country is colpo d’aria (“hit of air” literally translated). This lurks behind every corner and is ready attack the innocent person any time. You can get plenty of symptoms from this awful threat: a flu, fever, cough, sour throat, running nose, stomachache, headache etc. The Italians have learned to protect themselves against this merciless enemy. However, how do they know how to protect?
Rule number 1: Look at the calendar and dress according to it. So, if there are 12 degrees in December it is perfectly fine to wear winter boots, a fur (if you own one), winter jackets, a wool scarf etc. Kids look like little Michelin man from December until February-March.
Rule 2: Avoid situations where you can be hit by colpo d’aria. I remember when my daughter was newborn. It was a hot day in the beginning of September and I had an appointment with our pediatrician. When I entered the examination room, it was hot there inside. For my great surprise, the doctor closed the window immediately, because otherwise my daughter could have been hit by colpo d’aria. This was the first time I understood that in this country of great beauty hides a terrible, invisible enemy called colpo d’aria.
Then Italians can get sick, because they are hit by cold. If you have stomachache, it is probably due to the fact that you have got cold. Then never go out with wet hair, because you can get cold also this way. When I was young and lived in Finland, it was normal to go out with wet hair after the gym class also in winter and I’m still alive and here in Italy it is not cold ever.
Then especially in spring and autumn, the reason for many diseases is the change of the season (cambio stagione). If I tell to our friend in May that my son is sick, she will say very seriously that the reason is cambio stagione. Then the Italians have all these believes about food as if you are supposed to eat orange only in the morning. One belief about the food and eating in general is that you have to wait 3-4 hours after a meal before you can go swimming. Mine go when they want without any problems. My parents told me to wait always 30 minutes.
When it is about the health, it is much easier to live in Finland. We go swimming immediately after eating, winter can turn to spring and we don’t have serious health problems, we can eat an orange also in the evening and the best is that we don’t have that awful, dreadful thing called colpo d’aria in Finland.
The other story is then the health system in Italy. I will write about it the next time.