Wade in the water. . .

Sant'Anselmo pool with the bell tower and basilica in the background.

Long, Hot Summer

Tyler Johnson

Summer has arrived in Rome. The days are long and bright. The weather is consistently hot, humid, and sunny. Tourism is buzzing throughout the city. Every local gelateria is packed full. The street-corner water fountains are fully appreciated. Coffee bars have even started offering “cold brew”, also known in Italian as “cold brew”. (Side note: It is fun and humorous for me to discover English words and expressions that have made it into the Italian vernacular. Some others I’ve heard recently: “top”, used as an adjective meaning cool; “mind-popping”, describing the flavor of Pringles in a YouTube ad; and “Black Friday”, also heard in an advertisement although describing a summer clothing sale.) And for me, the final indication of summer’s arrival is the local people’s retirement of leather jackets and jeans for a lightweight shirt and, on some occasions, shorts.

Living in persistent heat throughout the summer takes some adjusting. The Minnesota climate, although it does get quite hot in the summertime, does not sufficiently prepare one for the summer in Rome. One of the most striking differences is the inability to escape the heat. The prevalence of air conditioning in the US is not something that is valued in Italian culture. In fact, some will tell you that air conditioning is unhealthy and can make you sick. Here at Sant’Anselmo we have a few spaces with air conditioning, including the lower level of classrooms and a few main-level gathering spaces, but most spaces are without and have taken on the thick heat of the outdoor climate. Knowing when to open the windows and which direction to point the fan has become very important. We are, however, very fortunate at Sant’Anselmo because we have one commodity that is perfect for combatting enjoying the summertime heat: an outdoor pool.

Che vista!

Sant'Anselmo pool with the Church of St. Mary of the Grand Priory of the Order of Malta in the background

When the weather started to warm in late April, many of the residents here began to inquire about the reopening of the pool. The pool has no cover and gets quite dirty throughout the winter and spring, so it needed to be thoroughly cleaned and then refilled. The other volunteers and I also wanted to expedite this process so we could lounge and swim in our free time. Soon after, we got the green light to start the cleaning process and with a singular, not overly powerful power washer (it has a stream much smaller than that of a garden hose) we cleaned the pool floor, which had been collecting filth for months. Soon after, some chemicals were added and the filling process was initiated, lasting about a day and a half. At this point, we had a functional pool for the community’s use.

For the last month or two, the pool has been well-utilized by the community. However, as many of our student-residents begin to depart for summer vacation this week, this will surely slow. But I will certainly continue to use the space for the duration of my stay here in Rome. It is a great spot to swim, sunbathe, find shade, read, study, listen to music, or just lounge with no other motive.