Saturday, June 4, 2011

How to survive in Milan in the Summer

The weather's not being summery at all today, there's thunder rumbling in the distance and ominous black clouds overhead... But with it now being June it's supposed to be warm, sunny, and starting to feel humid in Milan. I've decided to put a list together my top five tips I have for people who might be coming to Milan this summer, or are looking forward to their first Milanese summer. They might be obvious, but I think they're worth repeating. These tips go for Italy in general too, but I've focused on Milan in the hope of putting together more specific advice.

1. Stay out of the sun

Obvious, no? There's siesta time in Italy for a reason. Early afternoon during summer the heat and humidity get unbearable. Try to arrange indoor activities if you want to be out and about at this time of day, such as going to the Museo del Novecento (Museum of the 20th Century, in Piazza Duomo), or the Triennale Design Museum (Viale Alemagna, 6, near Parco Sempione amd Cadorna train station). If you have to stay outside, aim for the shade.

2. Keep hydrated

Another obvious one, but it's something that can be neglected if you're sightseeing. Buy 500ml water bottles from the supermarket to save money on buying them from bars and street vendors, and when they get empty fill them up from one of the water fountains dotted around Milan. There's one in Piazza Duomo for example, it's dark green and next to the side of the church, the water's perfectly drinkable.

3. Sali minerali

Or in English: mineral salts. My first summer here I was prescribed supplements as I have low blood pressure, as I discovered from a visit to the doctor. And I swear by them. I highly recommend them if you have low blood pressure or suffer the heat, they replace minerals (specifically potassium and magnesium) lost through sweating. You can buy them in pharmacies (and some supermarkets), some of the best known brands are Polase, Sustenium and Mg K vis. They're not very cheap though, the last packet of Polase I bought was 20.50 euro for 30 packets, but they do the trick. Good replacements are Energade or Gatorade, or failing that, orangeade for the sugar.

4. Food

Try to eat light meals during the day. Eating a heavy meal such as pasta and pizza will cause blood to be diverted to your digestive system as it requires a lot of energy to break down the food, making it easier for you to feel light-headed. For snacks gelato is great, and so is a granita - a slush. In bars, gelaterie and food stalls you will find various flavours.

5. Stock up on mosquito repellent

Those pesky mozzies get everywhere, there's no escape. Before going out, especially at night, cover yourself in repellent. During the night if you have to leave any windows open I'd recommend that you use a plug-in or mosquito coil (you can find plenty of products in any supermarket) as I've found them to be much more effective. I use a plug-in myself and have rarely had any problems with mosquitos in my flat.

I hope I haven't put anyone off coming here??