The dangers of a Colpo d'aria -

12/13/2011 - 16:20

An Italian in Britain writes.....



I will never forget hearing, to my GREAT astonishment, my aunt telling her 8-year old son not to run around in the middle of the summer otherwise he would break into a sweat (non correre che sudi!). Now, having just arrived in Italy for a holiday from Africa where we lived, we were used to being all sweaty - it went with the territory - and my mother (whose sister my aunt was) had NEVER told us not to sweat, indeed, we always thought that it was natural, a little like being dirty at the end of a long hard day at play. By the way, getting dirty was also frowned upon - it meant allowing house-room for germs! When I asked my mum why Giantoni couldn't sweat, she replied, hiding a grin behind her hand it must be said, that if he sweated he would then cool down and get a ...wait for it...colpo d'aria with great danger to his "delicate" frame (Giantoni was a large, overweight child whose delicate constitution had escaped me up until that moment). I am in total sympathy with the writer of the article because all my Italian relations can also tell me where their livers are, where their kidneys are and indeed, while I have a tummy ache, they can distinguish between at least 5 types of tummy pain: mal di pancia, dolore al basso ventre, indigestione, and others I cannot remember!

I was brought up in yorkshire winters, had no long trousers till I went to big school and walked a mile to junior school in snow drifts in short trousers and proper shoes.  I live in Sicily and have to admit that a cervicale, and a colpa d'aria are definitely real and painful illnesses.  It may be 23 degrees today here, but I have a scarf on when drving the car otherwise my neck will hurt unbearably.  Got a colpo d'aria doing the gardening at the weekend in 20+ degrees and you feel it - may be its because my blood is thinner than it used to be - but its not Italian hypochondria.   IN Yorkshire we dont have days with a temperature variation of 20+ degrees, so you dont need to dress like a cipolla.   

Sounds to me like you need a thorough medical! I've spent plenty of time in places with greater daily temperature variations than 20 degrees.  After several years here, I can't say I've noticed a single condition out of those mentioned affecting me.  Are you certain you've caught these mysterious Italian-only illnesses that don't appear to affect the vast majority of the world's population ;)

I have a Sicilian friend who bought a pair of padded jeans in Palermo in the '80s when I'm not sure they even existed in Northern France where I met him! Do they exist these days? Or are they still only available in Sicily?! However, Belgium, where I  live,  is not too bad for hypochondria either: for example they have so many ways of defining what for me is a simple sore throat - tracheite, laryngite, angine,...- that when I go to the doctor with a sore throat we have a geat time trying to identify what it is I'm suffering from "Tracheite?" he asks? "Mal à la gorge", I reply. "Angine?" "Mal à la gorge". "Laryngite?" "Mal à la gorge". "Pharyngite?"  "Mal à la gorge" "Rhinophyrangite?" "Mal à la gorge - just take a look PLEASE!"

Its just a broken record, a myth in my opinion that all Italians seemed to have learned from their grandmas without questioning and is passed around like a virus, after living in Italy for 10 years it has been reluctantly been ingrained in my mentality and when my children run outside in tshirts in December even if it is 18 degrees my instinct is to hurl myself after them screaming "you'll be off school with a febbre tomorrow"!!!!!!! Luckily common sense kicks in and I smile smugly to myself that I really dont believe that and I like the fact my kids are a bit English and just do what feels natural to them. If they do feel cold, they will come running back to the warm house or put on a light jacket. Some Italian mothers actually take hairdryers to childrens parties to dry sweaty heads before taking their delicate angels home! In a yoga class the other day in a closed room with 20 students I asked to open the door a little, but there will be a "current" said one woman! Yes that would be air we need to breathe with I said!I could go on and on............. Charlotte  

What WONDERFUL stories...................I could read these all day, mainly because they are real, what will the children think in years to come !! ??? A VERY Merry Christmas to all !!  smiley From here (would you believe) in snowy BAVARIA !!! S

I've never been sure if its hypochondria or greater knowledge! In the UK, people might "feel a bit dizzy / odd"....over here, they will tell you that their blood pressure dropped (which never occured to me on the rare occasions I have felt dizzy).  Other Italian friends will let me know, from time to time, that they are off coffee and certain rich foods because their kidneys are inflamed (Have you been to the Dr. then, I used to ask, somewhat naively - no....I just know).  Others have problems with their liver so are drinking special tisane to sort that problem....and so it goes on. My GP laughs at me if I complain of "tummy problems"...and asks me to be more specific! mean problems with your large / small intestines he says when I've explained the problem to his satisfaction... On a more serious all the years I have lived here it has always been evident that mothers keep their kids off school for the slightest thing - although staying at home doesnt mean they can't play outside, eat as normal, go out shopping with mum etc.  When I was little - I hadn't a hope in Hades of staying off school unless I was really ill - and on the rare occasions I did stay at home, it was in bed, with no TV / anything fun - just to ensure I wasn't tempted to try it on another time! Sadly, this staying at home for no real reason carries on to when they go off to work...I have worked for various Italian companies and know only too well that people phone in sick " because I feel a bit under the weather / I've got a bit of a headache / I didn't sleep very well last night / I've got my period   (3 - 5 days off for that one!) I might be coming down with a cold (might???!!!) and so on. Italian bosses usually just have a bit of a moan and then shrug their shoulders....but really don't think they would get away with it in the UK / elsewhere.  They do have to bring in a doctor's note after even 1 day off - but the truth is, most GP's will write one without bothering to investigate / verify...

One of our kids used to run around Milan in winter with her coat perpetually open, which never did her a lick of harm, but drove the nonne crazy with fretting and clucking at my bad parenting. In turn I was baffled when  mothers and nonne at the playground admonished their children for climbing too high, running too fast or daring to remove their scarf, only to toss the kids in the back seat of the car afterwards without seat belts, then light up a cigarette for good measure. We all have different ideas about health risks I guess!

The funniest thing I saw was a tiny 7st mother carrying a gross fat 5 year old up my friends driveway incase the hot tar on it hurt his feet. Yet everytime I'm out driving I see babies bouncing around in the back seats with no car seats or seat belts on! Clearlythere needs to be some sort of educationa campaign.Its getting very serious with these grossly overweight children who because of all this silliness are not getting enough excercise.