How to Beat the Summer Heat?
The rule of thumb for avoiding serious consequences during any summer activity is the same whether you are staying at home, pedaling across Tuscany, trekking France or visiting London.
Special attention and a few basic guidelines will make sports pleasant and enjoyable in summer, even when the temps are high. In Tuscany, the hot seasons correspond with:
- June – the grain has ripened and the harvest has begun leaving large rolls of hay sitting behind, and the poppies have exploded red in unattended fields
- July – sunflowers abound, forming bright yellow patches in between the green vineyards, silver olive groves, and winding white roads
- August – these last weeks of summer include the grapes ripening on the vine and picture-perfect landscapes
This means summer travelers should pack wisely in these months to avoid discomfort and unpleasant experiences. If you are sightseeing in Florence, trekking along the Siena hills, biking Chianti, or horseback riding around Val d’Orcia it is easy to be prepared. Here are 8 things you need to keep in mind when packing and planning and packing for your summer holiday.
1 – Plan the time of your outings
When you are programming your itinerary be sure to put the more strenuous activities in the early morning or when the sun starts to set. Avoid the afternoon hours when the sun is at its peak.
“We get an early start on our bike tours, not just so our guests can see the towns like Castellina in Chianti and San Gimignano tourist free — but so they can enjoy the cooler temps, especially in July and August.” – Elena Boscherini, Co-Owner & Tour Leader at Bike Florence&Tuscany
This is true also for admiring the monuments, standing in line and visiting the markets.
2 – Water is your best friend
One word says it all: hydrate. There is no excuse when abroad to not drink water; Tuscany loves it’s bottled water and you can find it everywhere. It comes in all shapes and sizes, so rest assured there is one that will fit in your backpack! It will be hard to resist, but remember to moderate your coffee and alcohol consumption while in the sun – it only increases dehydration.
Take advantage of the fact that summer is abundant with “water-rich fruits”. Peaches, plums, cantaloupe, grapes, and watermelon are great for keeping you hydrated. If you need to snack, instead of cookies and crackers, think of salty snacks like toasted nuts and olives. They help you retain water — which might not sound exciting, but in the hot weather, it helps.
PS – Horseback riding anyone? Bring an apple for your four-legged buddy, they’ll love you!
3 – Get out of the City
Keep cool by enjoying the fresh countryside air. Cities have a tendency to keep the hotness in and increase the humidity levels. The streets, buildings and sidewalks absorb the heat and then they radiate it right back at ya’. Our suggestion: Plan an event or tour that gets you out of the city. Not only will it expose you to milder temps but it will give you an opportunity to admire the landscapes.
Who can resist cool breezes as you coast on your bike through the vineyards in Chianti?
4 – Dress Right
Looking sexy, fashionable or stylish doesn’t count when you are trekking, biking or any kind of sport IF it doesn’t help keep you cool and comfortable. Pack “moisture wicking” shirts and shorts, this material pulls moisture from the body to the exterior of the shirt where it can easily evaporate. Besides being lightweight and thus not adding to your luggage weight limit, these types of clothes will keep you fresh while pedaling in Chianti or jogging up to Piazzale Michelangelo.
Make use of light or fluorescent colors, not only are they “in” but they don’t absorb the heat like black or dark colors. And. Bright colors are a good safety feature.
5 – Protect your Eyes
Sunglasses are not just for Top Gun pilots. Long term exposure to UV rays can damage your eye’s surface and its internal structure. And all that sun will wear you out faster. And squinting your eyes causes wrinkles 😉
If you are going to purchase a pair for the vacation, then look for UV protection and photochromic lenses. You should also consider lightweight frames, particularly a half rim design which cuts the weight and lets air flow on your face.
Fashion or designer frames might be great for making a statement at happy hour but when outside in the sun, you want protection too.
6 – Lather Up
Sunburn is not only dangerous and uncomfortable, but it also means a loss of liquids. Besides, who wants to look like a boiled lobster in their holiday photos. Lather up at least 30 minutes before starting your activity — even if you are simply touring the markets.
Be sure to do it right; many people skip their ears, the back of their neck & legs and especially their lower legs. Choose a water-resistant (sweat resistant) sunscreen with a minimum of SPF30, and look for the words “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection.
7 – Cover Up
Even if you have good sunglasses and you have lathered up, a protective hat (lightweight and in bright colors) works wonders.
Just think: the second most forgotten area to protect for most people is their scalp. With or without hair, this sensitive skin needs to be protected.
8 – Get Assistance
If you don’t feel well or are experiencing dizziness, cramps, or extra fatigue – then get help. Larger cities, like Florence and Rome, have medics set up in the main squares for your safety, or you can ask a police officer for help!
If you choose to participate in an organized tour, then remember your guide is your best buddy while trekking, biking or any other kind of tour. If you are hot, tired or you have simply realized you have reached your limit: let them know.
“There is no reason anyone has to feel bad about accepting help when they have had enough! We provide an air-conditioned support van on all of our tours. It follows the same route and participates in all the same activities as the bikers so they don’t miss out on the activities. It also carries extra supplies for hydrating and replenishing.” – Piero Didona, Owner & Tour Leader at Bike Florence & Tuscany