Why do Sicilians fear Air conditioning?


I recently met a lovely Canadian lady who was complaining about the lack of air conditioning in Sicily. I had totally forgotten why Sicilian’s and Italian’s in general are so anti artificial cooling systems in the summer. I have passed through so many humid summers it must have fried my memory when it comes to this point.

The real reason why is that Italians are really afraid of it. There are literally dozens of urban legends of poor sensitive Italian souls who have gotten a chill from the cold air and have died a terrible death that the collective Italian conscious avoids air conditioning.

My very Italian husband is always repeating the fate of a friend of a friend of his who drank an icy cold beer on a terribly hot day and died at the age of forty. I insist the poor fellow probably had some kind of untreated heart condition. It seems Italian’s really believe this kind of crap.


I wonder what Italian’s would say about those crazy Australians who not only scull liters of freezing water in the scorching antipodean summers but also put their glasses in the freezer to make their drinks colder still, surely all Australians would be extinct at this rate, including myself?

So my dear friends don’t expect to get a cold beer or find good strong cold air in the Italian summer. You’ll be sweltering with the rest of us. Yet you will be safe from a deadly chill related death.

Unwilling expat

Images from Google

7 thoughts on “Why do Sicilians fear Air conditioning?

  1. I am married to a Sicilian, The Sicilian Housewife is correct, there is a dreadful disease called cervicale, it can strike in any month. I understand it is caused by a cold wind to the neck. Hence Italians will wear a scarf in the summer ( I always thought it was a fashion statement)

    Mrs Sensible and I went to a chocolate shop near us, the chocolates are hand made by an award winning Japanese guy. However the shop had it’s air conditioners blowing out very cold air to prevent the chocolates from melting. Mrs Sensible caught the dreaded Cervicale and was nearly bedridden for a week.


  2. He Hee!
    I think the tale of the man who drank something really cold and died from it must be an urban myth that goes around Sicily as I have heard it from many sources, who insisted it was tragically true.
    It’s almost as far fetched as the way they insist that taking vitamin pills will make you bloat up and become hugely obese, literally wobbling with masses of excess body fat, in absolutely no time. Have you ever heard that one?
    Though the worst ever is the way they are obsessed with getting in a cold draught and developing CERVICALE, a catastrophic neck and head condition that, apparently, only Italians suffer from and which is brought on by puffs of cold air. They also insist that colds are caused by gusts of cold air, just like those blown out by air conditioning, usually insisting they have no virus at all (as they sneeze germs all over you and your baby).
    They don’t teach them human biology at school, which is the sad explanation for their medieval medical knowledge. I suppose we should just be grateful they don’t still put people on trial for witchcraft…!


    1. I know, Sicilians are particularly paranoid about their health.

      I hadn’t heard the vitamin pill one, but my terribly Sicilian husband saw I was taking one the other day and said, hey go easy on those, but I didn’t pay attention, but he must have meant not to gain weight!!

      My brother in law has a scarf on in the summer nights whenever he is out for fear of his cervicale acting up!

      There are many inbuilt quirks in the Sicilian character often attached to ancient knowledge or sayings that they have inherited and for some strange reason they choose to hold on to.

      We simply have to be strong, insist on the truth while not offending their pride.

      Thanks for your comments!!


      1. Ah, my strategy is different from yours. I just join in, passionately moaning about my awful cervicale pains and how my nose cannot stop running the moment anyone even thinks of turning on the air con. And of course the vitamins I take are the perfect excuse for my flabby midriff, it’s NOTHING AT ALL to do with all those ice cream I keep scoffing!!!! Do pass the tutti frutti, I want another scoop! 🙂


  3. Ha! This is so funny. I actually experience the opposite here – maybe the Catanese are particularly forward-thinking – where everyone is horrified to hear that I *don’t* have air-con. That’s a matter of circumstance, rather than choice, as I live in the centro storico, but even when I lived in a flat that had it, I never used it, because I don’t like the dry air that it produces. And I’m not a fan of super-cold drinks, either – chilled is fine, but when they’re too cold (a) I can’t taste them and (b) they hurt my teeth hahaha. 😉


    1. Isn’t it just. And it doesn’t end there! Sicilians have so many curious beliefs and ticks, there is a book in there for sure. Be thankful that the Catanese are so pro air con!! I don’t have it either but I too live in the centro storico of a little Sicilian town in the province of Messina. All the houses around me seem to shield me from the heat! I agree with your take on extra cold drinks. Wine should be chilled but being an Ozzie my beer needs to be cold else it tastes like urine (not that I’ve ever drunk urine! I’m sure you know what I mean!?!)


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