Carol Forster column

Carol Forster.
Carol Forster.

Continuing a theme from last week, it began to rain again recently.

I’ve been asking my Italian friends, ‘am I really in England?’ and my large purple brolly’s been getting a good ol’ work-out.

Italians avoid the rain like the plague and disappear at the sight of the wet stuff.

However, they are completely nonchalant about earthquakes.

Take January. There I was, sitting on my bed one afternoon, when suddenly it was being shaken by a jolly giant and its rock ’n‘ rolling pal the lamp.

My first thought was that the neighbours had taken to using a powerful washing machine, but then it gradually dawned on me that it was, in fact, an earthquake.

Very curious, I asked the locals about it, who responded with ‘Boh!’, as if I’d asked them to read a boring tax return form.

Blasé would be an understatement.

And so I quickly learned that tremors here are as common as teenage spots, a really rather disappointing discovery.

However, as I ambled along those pavements one day, the rains began.

Being a stoical Brit, I popped up my brolly and strolled on.

Yikes. Where did the Italians go?

It was all Marie Celeste.

Suddenly an old lady popped her head out from a dripping doorway, to implore, ‘Signora, why are you out in the rain? You’ll get wet’

She probably thought I’d get Pneumonia too.

‘Che brutta figura !’

You soon learn in Italy that ‘bella figura’ (putting on a good front) is more important than breathing here, and dripping clothes just don’t cut the mustard.

When you think about it, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake might demolish your house, street, local infrastructure and cause a few days of chaos, but if you’re savvy, and standing in the right place – even if you have the odd broken bone – it probably won’t affect your hairstyle or mess up your clothes in anyway.

And thus I came to understand why Italians don’t mind earthquakes but dislike the rain.

It might cause that pesky thing, ‘brutta figura’.