A couple of months ago at the beginning of October, the temperature in Rome began to drop a little bit. And by a little bit, I mean it dropped from being between 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit to being between 70 to 80 degrees. I’d wake up and walk to class wearing jeans instead of shorts in comfortable 70 degree weather. On those same, fresh morning walks to class, I would get outrageous glances and stares from local Italians who were already starting to bundle up in jackets and scarves.
Through the transition of the early fall season into the late fall season and now the early winter, I watched Rome transform around me to adapt to slight shifts in temperature. It began with street vendors slowly putting away their summer clothes of dresses and t-shirts and pulling out plaid pants and light sweaters. Now the clothing stands along my street, Via Candia, are filled with furry coats and winter boots.
Slowly, many outdoor seating options adopted erected outdoor heaters or simply put away the outside seating option. Areas that were once consumed by mass tour groups and people trying to get a picture with one of Rome’s many famous monuments are now lacking the hoards of people. Our Residence covered our beds with a thicker blanket and turned the heat on (which we promptly turned off because it is just not cold enough for that)!
Initially, it was strange to be walking through the streets of Rome, still sweating slightly from the warm-ish temperature and observing the local Italians around me covered in layers. My short-sleeves and light sweaters have helped me stand out throughout the fall months in Rome as anything but a local. In fact, I remember questioning what locals were going to wear once December hit and the weather became a little chillier than 68-72 degrees outside. And now that December has arrived, the locals have only added on layers and pulled out thicker jackets.
The original sentiments of feeling like an oddity in a sweater surrounded by scarves and heavy jackets have faded. I have grown used to the winter coats in what is typically considered fall weather back home. And in some ways, I have even adapted to the warmer “winter” weather. I didn’t pack many sweaters or winter clothes, because at the time 50-60 degree weather seemed manageable with some light-weight jackets and long-sleeve shirts. However, I have purchased quite a few sweaters, some scarves, and even a heavier jacket.
The quick and early transition from summer clothing into immediate fall and winter clothing has also blurred the feelings of seasons abroad as well. Back home, fall is a BIG deal. Between the pumpkin spice latte craze, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, fall is broken apart and identified into pieces that are more than a drop in temperature and changing leaf colors.
Without any of the main indicators that exist back at home – from the weather to the holidays – fall has passed by in a blur. However, it is clear from the Italians’ gradual addition of layers and jackets throughout the past couple of months, they have been aware of the transitioning seasons. Not having the traditional holiday decor or dates to celebrate throughout the fall season has been difficult in some ways. However, it has also helped me stay grounded in Rome.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and although my friend (pictured below) and my mom were in Rome with me during the holiday, I still was hit with a wave of sadness when I Facetimed my sisters at home and they told me about their traditional Thanksgiving day. Of course, I’ve missed some of the classic fall decorations from back home and the way that the entire environment around fall shifts to reflect the changing seasons. But overall, the lack of fall holiday buzz has allowed me to focus on my life in Rome and to stay more steady as the seasons gradually shift.