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Why the great autumn wardrobe switch is serious business in Italy

People have always said to me that Italians stand out (particularly abroad) because of the way they dress, the style of their clothes, the designer labels, the gorgeous bags and shoes. 

But it’s not because they really do dress better than others, rather they are extremely picky about what they wear, and when they wear it, at which precise time of the year. 

Italians are dead serious about adapting their dress code to the different seasons in response to dropping or rising temperatures. The ‘wardrobe switch’ is a major event that consumes entire days of a family’s weekends or spare time. From the kids to granny, all must change their apparel. I remember my grandparents used to mark it on their calendar, a bit like when you have to take the car for the annual check called the tagliando

There are four major wardrobe switches, as many as the seasons. The most tiring is the summer-to-autumn one, which usually occurs mid-September when the summer heat abates. 

Summer clothes are taken out of the closet and laid on the bed, then autumn apparel is plucked out from an upper closet space and neatly laid on the other side of the bed to be scrutinized. 

READ ALSO: Pumpkin risotto and the great wardrobe switch: How life in Italy changes when autumn arrives

It’s then time to do some clearing out: the switch is the time to try on autumn clothes and see if they still fit or are no longer wanted or liked (meaning you’ll be shopping for new ones). 

This stage can take hours, if not days. Jackets, which usually take up more space and are kept in the cellar or attic, are also cleaned of dust and tried on. 

Photo: Dan Gold/Unsplash

The summer apparel is then packed away and replaced by the autumn clothes, which are laid out in the same spot where the t-shirts and shorts once were. The same goes for shoe switches. Back in the box with those flip-flops, which are a major no-no after September 20th, and back on the shelves for boots and sneakers. 

When an Italian decides that summer is over, summer is over even if it’s still 25 degrees outside. My boyfriend just switched from shorts to trousers, even though he’s sweating most of the time. 

And it may seem that there’s a particular dress code that everyone follows. Autumn calls for ‘camicette’ shirts, light leather jackets, jeans, and bright little stylish scarves in silk or cotton to protect against the first potential cold air. Rain coats and casual jackets dubbed spolverini (dusters) are also taken out of storage.

The motto is ‘vestirsi a cipolla’, meaning ‘to dress like an onion’, with layers of shirts and sweaters that can be peeled off throughout the day depending on temperature swings. 

READ ALSO: Ten Italian lifestyle habits to adopt immediately

It’s a way to avoid sweating at noon or getting too cold in the evenings. But it’s also a stylish dressing habit to show that we are fully equipped, including financially, to cope with the changing seasons. If you don’t buy at least one new item of clothing per season, that’s just ‘not cool’.

A ‘booster’ wardrobe switch happens again in December, when the piumini, or hardcore winter ‘duvet’ coats, and knitted wool sweaters are taken out to reinforce the autumn apparel. 

Even if it never gets that cold in Italy compared to some countries, Italians still like to wear wool hats, gloves and some even wear furs, heavy boots and mountain-climbing uniforms – perhaps just for the sake of showing off some of their cool skiing apparel. 

Whether in autumn, winter, spring, or summer, the wardrobe switch is also an excuse to go shopping. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Then when spring arrives, winter clothes disappear and autumn attire starts mixing with some t-shirts, sleeveless jackets, and lighter cotton pants. 

But it’s still too early to wear shorts for men or skirts without stockings for women: showing off white bare legs is so unstylish.

Alas, when it’s finally summer, flip flops and sandals pop out again and the switch is an occasion to throw away unwanted summer clothes from the previous year and buy new bikinis, skirts, tank tops and fancy colorful shirts. This can be quite painful if you happen to have gained weight during the cold months. 

Italians are serious about wardrobe changes given their reaction even to just slight temperature drops or hikes.

I know that for foreigners seeing Italians wearing coats now in September even if it’s not yet so cold can be quite shocking in the same way it is for Italians to see Americans or Germans wearing t-shirts in December. 

READ ALSO: ‘Five ways a decade of living in Italy has changed me’

But climate change is disrupting the traditional wardrobe switch. My granny used to say that the so-called ‘middle seasons’ in Italy which are those between summer and winter (she meant autumn and spring) were luckily very long and pleasant. But nowadays even Italy has very short springs and autumns. In recent years there’s been a sudden jump from hot summers to half-winter seasons. 

This affects the way Italians are dressing, as I see fewer leather jackets around or raincoats unless it’s actually raining. The other day I was swimming in a pool and in the afternoon when I came back home there was a strong wind and I had to put on my piumino (long duvet coat) plus a hat. 

Luckily I have a huge walk-in closet so the left part is for winter, the right part is for summer and in between are all those items that used to fall within my granny’s ‘middle seasons’. So I always have everything at hand to cope even with the uncontrolled effects of climate change.

Friends of mine are already going into depression because they’re planning the wardrobe switch for next weekend – but they already miss the summer and don’t want to give up on the sexy shorts and elegant sandals. 

There’s no doubt about it: when it comes to clothes, most Italians can be very fussy indeed.

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On second thought, it is funny: Comedians and philosophers find common ground | Culture

Spanish comedians Ignatius Farray and Inés Hernand perform at the Teatro Infanta Isabel in Madrid on January 13, 2022.
Spanish comedians Ignatius Farray and Inés Hernand perform at the Teatro Infanta Isabel in Madrid on January 13, 2022.Aldara Zarraoa (GETTY IMAGES)

Humor can open doors to new worlds and new ways of thinking. This is true now, as it was true before: contrary to popular belief, philosophers have used and studied laughter for centuries. “Philosophy was created as a response to ancient tragedy, and has many connections with the comic,” explains Lydia Amir, professor of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University. In books like Philosophy, Humor, and the Human Condition: Taking Ridicule Seriously (2019) and Humor and the Good Life in Modern Philosophy (2015), Amir uncovers a largely forgotten philosophical lineage, in which Socrates poisons himself to mock his executioners, and Plato, famous for expelling comedians from the Republic, defines true comedy as that which unmasks one’s own ignorance.

Along Amir’s guided journey, we learn that Aristotle considered the proper use of laughter a social virtue, and catalogued true wit as the hallmark of a free and honorable person; that the Cynics wandered the streets in broad daylight, holding out a lantern to “search for an honest man;” and that Epicurus advised us to laugh, philosophize and take care of our home, all at the same time.

During the Renaissance, Erasmus wrote a book of jokes. And for Montaigne — who claimed that absurdity was “a uniformly distributed property” — humor allows us to contemplate matters under a new light, which in turn can help us understand how all things have different aspects and different shades. For his part, Spinoza saw in laughter a careful attempt, not to mock, but to understand human passions; while Kant described it as “an affect resulting from the sudden transformation of a heightened expectation into nothing.”

According to Amir, the gradual split between philosophy and humor occurred when the former became increasingly enclosed in the confines of the academy, and as a discipline, opted for rationality and a focus on analytical clarity. “Humor is, in essence, ambiguous, and that’s why we chose to leave laughter aside when it came to philosophizing,” Amir explained, in a telephone interview with EL PAÍS.

Now, however, academia appears to be opening its doors to humor. This spring, the Complutense University of Madrid, the Panamerican University in Mexico City, and the University of Kent in England have all hosted academic gatherings on the topic of philosophy and humor. “Traditionally, laughter was considered a matter of popular interest — like emotions: far from the purity of philosophy — but now the discipline is starting to come down off that pedestal,” explains Javier Vilanova, professor of Logic and Theoretical Philosophy at the Complutense University. “The old intellectual prejudice against humor is giving way to an interest in its cognitive and pedagogical strategies, in how we might learn to think through philosophical laughter,” adds Saleta de Salvador Agra, a professor in Philosophy of Language at the same university.

The initiative has been well received by students — an unsurprising development, considering humor’s unique power as a tool of communication, and also, perhaps, given the popularity of the figure of the comedian, who, as Vilanova puts it, analyzes everyday life and takes contradictions to “to the point of absurdity and collapse.”

The success of stand-up comedy offers a good example of Vilanova’s point: A person with a microphone, on a stage, who in a kind of collective catharsis can make an audience laugh using a dose of crude anti-establishment criticism, and poking fun at the everyday miseries of human existence. George Carlin, a star of the genre, used to say that comedy is the popular exploration of truth. Spanish comedian Ignatius Farray tends to agree: “The three fields that focus on searching for truth are philosophy, comedy and crime novels, but, as Socrates knew, and as his method teaches, truth can only be called truth when it emerges out of cooperative dialogue.”

For Farray, author of Meditaciones (2022), the public pays for admission to a stand-up show so that they can peer into the abyss and listen to a comedian say out loud the things we often dare not face ourselves. A bit like philosophers who seek knowledge in solitude. In that space, we are pushed to go “a little past our limits, to find new spaces of freedom, to do the dirty work,” he says.

During that encounter, issues that challenge us as a community can be laid out on the table, like when the Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby spoke about the brutal violence she suffered in her homeland for being a lesbian: “I took everything I knew about comedy, cut it up, and created a monster from that corpse,” she told EL PAÍS’s Jaime Rubio Hancock.

With merciless humor, comedians can show us how we are being racist without knowing it, why we never learn from our mistakes, or how to face death. As Farray does, when he points to the “unresolved existential tension” between him and death, and jokes that on his tombstone he plans to write, “I could see it coming,” and that to trick death, just before that fatal hour, he plans to “play dead” so that death will hesitate, as if to say: “Do I have the wrong guy? Am I shaking the same hand twice?”

I read Kierkegaard

For years, the Spanish comedic duo Faemino and Cansado have made audiences erupt in laughter with their celebrated skit: “Qué va, qué va, qué va, yo leo a Kierkegaard (”Hey now, come on, I read Kierkegaard!”). The refrain gets at something deeper than a good laugh. As the Danish philosopher once wrote: “When I was young, I forgot how to laugh… when I was older, I opened my eyes and beheld reality, at which I began to laugh, and since then, I have not stopped laughing.”

For Kierkegaard, the tragic and the comic are ultimately the same thing: a contradiction. While the former is painful, however, the latter is an incongruity seen in perspective and, therefore, painless. In this way, the person who views something with a sense of humor can find a way out: the person is aware of the contradiction, and doesn’t know what to do about it, but is also no longer tormented by it.

Along these same lines, Amir proposes an ethics of compassion through humor: her thesis is that in human beings, all desires contradict each other, and are incongruent with reality, which leads to a tragic situation where we react with complete rigidity. The comic sensibility, on the other hand, knows how to see and live with duality and contradiction. “Realizing this irresolvable incoherence can bring us peace,” says Amir, who invites us all to adopt a self-reflective posture, by ridiculing ourselves (“but gently, and with forgiveness”). A form of salvation — precarious, holy — just within our reach.

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Exploring the Beauty of European Union (EU) Countries: A Comprehensive Guide

By Angela Harper – Contributor ‘Voice of EU

Are you planning a memorable trip to Europe? With rich cultural heritage, diverse landscapes, and iconic landmarks, EU countries offer a wealth of opportunities for tourists to immerse themselves in history, indulge in culinary delights, and bask in natural beauty. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the top destinations, hidden gems, and practical tips to ensure your European adventure is nothing short of extraordinary.

Discover the Top European Union (EU) Destinations

a) Paris, France:

The City of Lights captivates visitors with its iconic Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and charming streets of Montmartre.

b) Rome, Italy:

Step back in time and explore ancient ruins like the Colosseum, Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Basilica, and the stunning Trevi Fountain.

c) Barcelona, Spain:

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this Catalan city, with architectural marvels like Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia and the lively Las Ramblas.

d) Amsterdam, Netherlands:

Experience the charm of Amsterdam’s canal-laced streets, visit the Van Gogh Museum, and take a leisurely bike ride through the city.

e) Prague, Czech Republic:

Marvel at the fairytale-like architecture of Prague Castle, wander through the historic Old Town, and soak in the atmosphere of the Charles Bridge.

PLANNING A TRIP TO ITALY?: Americans in Italy: Your Comprehensive Guide for a Memorable Visit

Unveiling Hidden Gems in the European Union (EU) Countries:

a) Porto, Portugal:

Explore the picturesque streets of this coastal city, indulge in Port wine tastings, and admire the stunning Douro River.

b) Dubrovnik, Croatia:

Discover the medieval charm of the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” with its fortified walls, labyrinthine streets, and breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea.

c) Reykjavik, Iceland:

Immerse yourself in Iceland’s natural wonders, including the mesmerizing Northern Lights, geothermal spas, and stunning waterfalls.

d) Bruges, Belgium:

Step into a fairytale as you wander through Bruges’ medieval streets, indulge in delectable chocolate, and take a boat ride along the picturesque canals.

e) Salzburg, Austria:

Experience the musical legacy of Mozart, explore the captivating Hohensalzburg Fortress, and marvel at the breathtaking Alpine scenery.

Practical Tips for European Union (EU) Travel:

a) Visa Requirements:

Check the visa requirements for your specific EU destination and ensure all necessary documentation is in order.

b) Transportation:

Plan your transportation in advance, whether it’s by train, plane, or bus, to optimize your travel within the EU.

c) Local Customs:

Familiarize yourself with the customs and etiquette of the countries you plan to visit to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience.

d) Currency Exchange:

Be aware of the local currency in each EU country and consider using a travel-friendly credit card or obtaining some local currency for convenience.

e) Travel Insurance:

Protect yourself with comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost belongings.

VISIT THESE PLACES: Exploring Europe: 19 Best Places to Visit in 2023

Exploring History & Culture:

Embarking on a European Union (EU) adventure is a dream come true for travelers seeking a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From the iconic landmarks of Paris and Rome to the hidden gems of Porto and Reykjavik, the EU offers an array of destinations to satisfy every wanderlust. With proper planning, visa requirements, and practical tips in mind, your European journey is bound to be an unforgettable experience. So, pack your bags, immerse yourself in the beauty of the EU, and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

In this digital age, planning your EU trip has never been easier. Research popular travel websites, blogs, and forums to gather insights from fellow travelers who have explored the region. Take advantage of online booking platforms to secure the best deals on flights, accommodations, and tours.

When it comes to accommodations, the EU offers a wide range of options to suit every budget and preference. Whether you prefer luxurious hotels, cozy bed and breakfasts, or budget-friendly hostels, there is something for everyone. Consider staying in centrally located accommodations to maximize your time and convenience.

While exploring the EU countries, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the local cuisine. Each country within the EU boasts its own culinary specialties and flavors. Indulge in delectable French pastries, Italian pasta and pizza, Spanish tapas, and Belgian waffles. Venture off the beaten path to discover hidden local eateries, where you can experience authentic regional dishes.

As you traverse through the EU, be sure to immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture. Attend festivals, art exhibitions, and live performances to witness the creative spirit of each country. Engage with locals, learn a few basic phrases of the local language, and embrace the unique customs and traditions of the region.


Safety is paramount while traveling, so ensure you have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost belongings. Familiarize yourself with emergency contact numbers and keep important documents and copies of your passport in a secure place.

The EU countries offer a seamless travel experience within its member countries, with easy border crossings and efficient transportation networks. Take advantage of the extensive train systems, which provide an excellent way to explore multiple destinations within the EU. Consider purchasing a Eurail pass for unlimited travel across participating countries.

Embarking on a EU adventure is an exciting and enriching experience. With its rich history, diverse cultures, and stunning landscapes, the EU offers endless possibilities for exploration. By planning ahead, embracing the local culture, and staying informed, you can make the most of your EU trip. Get ready to create lifelong memories as you discover the captivating beauty of the European Union. Bon voyage!

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Spain’s New Housing Law May Worsen Looming Rental Crisis: OPINION

By Jennifer Lutz

The new law, which took effect in May, is the government’s attempt to harness rapidly rising rents. But strong provisions for long-term leases leave a magic loophole – mid-term rentals. Add to that, the newly launched digital nomad visa, and Spain’s major cities are on pace for a major housing crisis.

The experts seem to agree and many have been outspoken against the new law. The General Council of Economists believes that the new rules will exclude families with fewer economic resources from the rental market.

“Any measure that creates uncertainty or is detrimental to supply, only further aggravates the problem”, José García Montalvo, professor of Economics at Pompeu Fabra University told Spanish news site NIUS. Many believe that the real problem of the housing market in Spain is the lack of rental supply.

According to property portal Idealista, from February 2022 to February 2023 the annual rental increase was 23 percent in Málaga, 20 percent in Barcelona, 19 percent in Valencia, 18 percent in Palma de Mallorca and 11 percent in Madrid.

In 2023, prices continue to climb, and local wages don’t keep pace. According to the latest data available, the average salary in Barcelona is €2,693 per month and the minimum is €1,080 per month, while the Housing Secretariat of the Generalitat states that the average monthly rent in the city is at a record €1,077.

Meanwhile, foreign investors are buying homes in record numbers – 21.2 percent of local sales in 2023. Many of these buyers hope to capitalise on the influx of high earners with remote jobs; the Spanish Housing Law does little to stop them and may even incentivise them.

A foreign resident in Barcelona, who asked to remain unnamed, was discussing a recent purchase in Poblenou, a beach-adjacent neighbourhood once favoured by artists, now filled with young foreigners and professionals looking for converted lofts and specialty coffee.

The owner is quite happy; she’s renting the flat for €2,500 a month, profiting from tourists flocking to Barcelona for the summer. A real estate agent asks if she has a license for short-term rentals. She doesn’t; Barcelona’s ex-Mayor Ada Colau banned new applications for tourist licences back in 2016. No problem, the owner will rent her flat on a mid-term lease.

You’ll see these flats listed on housing sites, like Idealista, as “32 days to 11 months.” Anything longer qualifies as a long-term lease, which gives the renter a right to stay for five years (seven years if the landlord is a company) with tightly regulated rent increases and protections from evictions. Mid-term leases are also advertised as short-term leases, medium-length leases, holiday homes, and seasonal rentals.

Renting in Spain is getting more expensive than ever. Photo: Duncan Kidd / Unsplash

Under Spain’s new housing law, regulations for long-term rentals are even stricter, making mid-term rentals more appealing to landlords eager to benefit from high earners moving to Barcelona on digital nomad visas.

Whereas rent increases on long-term rentals are capped at 2 percent for 2023 and at 3 percent in 2024, landlords can set new prices each time they rent a flat to a new tenant.

Midterm-term leases aren’t subject to provisions in the Housing Law, allowing for the classification of “stressed residential markets,” which limit the price of new rentals in areas where rents exceed the average household income by 30 percent. Nor are midterms leases subject to new provisions offering lease extensions to tenants in a “vulnerable” situation.

The eviction process has also become more difficult and arduous, forcing landlords to attempt arbitration with tenants and ending evictions at unscheduled dates and times, another thing less worrisome with mid-term leases for foreigners.

With a growing market of professionals, the Poblenou landlord will have no problem finding highly-paid digital nomads to rent her flat. “With the new law, no one is giving long-term leases; they’re not interesting,” she says. “You can’t raise the rent and you can’t kick out the tenant. With a mid-term rental, you can.”

That’s not to say mid-term leases are completely unregulated; they’re meant to be the exception, rather than the rule, and landlords must have a certain rationale for offering them, such as a tenant being in Barcelona for a short work contract, study abroad etc.

These terms and reasons should be stipulated in the contract but often landlords and the agencies that specialise in these seasonal rentals take advantage, utilising mid-term leases to side-step housing laws meant to guarantee fair and accessible housing to residents.

Landlords continue to charge higher rents and the agency profits from fees paid with each new contract. And while Spain’s new Housing Law stipulates that landlords (not tenants) must pay the agency fees for long-term rentals, tenants must pay the fees for short-term rentals.

Although the new law aims to increase affordable housing, it motivates landlords to avoid long-term leases altogether, catering not to residents, but to foreigners able to pay higher prices.

Already there is a big shortage of long-term leases offered on rental platforms. Search “mid-term rental” and you’ll also notice several agencies advertising investment opportunities, selling owners on the opportunity to make high returns with “higher quality tenants”.

It’s not that Spanish Housing Law forgot about mid-term rentals, leaving an accidental loophole, rather, it delays resolving the problem. The law’s fifth additional provision establishes the constitution of a working group to improve the regulation of seasonal contracts. As legislators debate future resolutions, renters continue to suffer while landlords and rental agencies profit.

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