A typical winter assaults Milan with a wet, uncomfortable winter chill that penetrates deep into the bones. If you really want to feel the fact that your body is 70% water, spend a winter in Milan. The humidity soars during the winter months, and picturing watery human bodies stuck inside the wet air probably gives you a good idea of what it’s like. The Milanese always make sure to don wool hats and gloves to protect themselves from the cold before going outside. I’d never bought a hat in my life outside of maybe a ski hat, so when I first moved to Milan, I thought it was really strange to see men and women of all ages wearing hats in the winter. But once I lived through it, I found myself really wanting a hat as well.
I’m not particularly sensitive to cold, but there is one country that made me shiver. I once spent a winter in Norway, and for the first one or two weeks I was ridiculously dressed in puffy layer after puffy layer. I had so many clothes on that I couldn’t bend over to put my shoes on, which had me laughing at myself as I twisted and turned. Struggling to drag the weight of all the layers down, I walked gingerly on the frozen sidewalks—while I looked on in shock (and envy) at the Norwegians in miniskirts and other thin outfits passing me with quick strides. After about two weeks of that, my body started adapting to the Norwegian cold, and I gradually removed a layer at a time until I was able to put my shoes on after getting into my coat.
Back in northern Italy, regulations demand that people change to winter tires. Between November 15 and March 15, you need snow tires to handle the snow-covered roads. If you don’t have them, you have to use chains. The locals have to follow these regulations so that they aren’t stuck being unable to drive in a sudden snowfall and end up blocking traffic. The tire places are booked morning until night around this time of year, so drivers have to stay on their toes and not miss the opportunity to get any needed repairs done while they’re getting their tires changed.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is a ski town located around 3000 meters up in the mountains. When I went there, I drove from Milan towards Venice, then took a side road before reaching the city to get on a road headed even farther north. As I did, I started seeing lit signs warning me that the roads were snowy and chains were required. Here it comes, I thought, as the snow started falling—and though the scene transformed into a lovely winter wonderland, I also got caught in a traffic jam up the mountain with just a few kilometers left to go before getting to Cortina d’Ampezzo. That’s when I saw all the people who weren’t prepared for the sudden heavy snow. The drivers were even putting on their chains in the middle of the road, while the ones who already had their snow tires on couldn’t pass them—and had no choice but to turn off their engines and wait.
I went ahead and got my snow tires on in mid-November this year just like always, so now I’m like, bring on the snow!!! Hahaha!!!