Blog: When we have snow in Italy, it feels like the apocalypse

Yes, blogger Donatella Gasparro knows snow. But in the very south of Italy, she would lock herself in the house and wait for the end of the world. In Wageningen, she hops on the bike (in twelve layers of clothing).
Foto: Sven Menschel

Tekst: Donatella Gasparro

I know, pretty obvious topic, right? Snow affected us all last week, in one way or another. But it is pretty funny to see how different people and different cultures deal with the white fluffy magic thing that freezes the roads for a few days.

During my Christmas holidays in my hometown, in the very South of Italy, we also had snow. Just to give a bit of context, I am from a place where drought is the norm during summers that can easily touch 40°C, and winters are quite mild and not even that rainy. I mean, we know snow, we have it once every two years for two days, or so. But every time it happens, it feels like the apocalypse. Two days before the forecasted (light) snow, people start buying staples to survive the hibernation. No kidding: supermarkets full of grandmas buying, say, flour, or sugar. Yes, I guess some drama is in our blood.


Then, of course, when the snow comes, and the road freezes, everything stops. Schools and offices close, public transportation shuts down, and everybody spends the days complaining, mainly. But there’s also those who make the most out of it and invent small-scale winter Olympics, swimming naked in the 10cm of snow or putting together improvised plastic-bag sleighs.

 Yes, I guess some drama is in our blood. 

I thought I had enough snow for this year. But here we go again. With the difference that here, in the Netherlands, although still a bit of general panic appears, roads are accessible, and bike paths are too.  With -2°C in Italy, I would just lock myself in the house and wait for the end of the world to do its job. Here in Wageningen, I get my twelve layers on, cover my face with scarf and hat, double layer gloves, and I hop on the bike. Nobody even thinks of shutting down schools and shops. Trains may have some problems, but they’re soon back on track.

Stock of snowballs

One thing is the same: the fun that people have with snow. I was coming back to Droevendaal on foot and a group of something like 10 people was waiting for passengers to attack with a stock of snowballs: Droevendaalers in ambush. And people’s creativity has no limits when it comes to snow-ball fighting, drawing humongous shapes on the white campus fields, or building alternative snowmen. My favourite creative attack, though, was one of a housemate of mine: she made seed-cakes for birds and she hanged them around in the garden. The show that great tits, robins and magpies give us for breakfast is inestimable.

Donatella Gasparro is a master’s student in Organic Agriculture; she hails from Italy.

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