No Summer Solstice in Rome

The Campidoglio - seat of the Municipality of Rome

The Campidoglio – seat of the Municipality of Rome

I was looking forward to celebrating the night of the Summer Solstice, but discovered there’s no such thing in Rome. Or Italy for that matter. Or rather, it’s not celebrated, and besides, it actually happens here a few minutes after midnight, on June 21st.

I stand by my traditions, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s tonight as in northern climes. I’d decided to celebrate somehow, and I’ve lined up a series of lovely candles to light up around the house tonight. Bonfires are illegal, so going out to one of the city’s lovely parks this evening wouldn’t have solved anything.

The solstice is reminiscent of what was probably my most entrancing trip ever, up to a remote house on a remote cliff in Norway that a cousin had rented for the period. We were the only foreigners for miles around, and when I did my break-of-dawn Tai Chi in the garden surrounded by strawberry farms, the farmer gawking while driving his tractor in the neighbouring field ran it into a tree. We had lovely adventures up and down the coast and visiting a number of islands, including having a school of dolphins greeting us  and breaking the monotony of waiting for an evening ferry we weren’t even sure would ever turn up at the deserted dock. That particular sunset was a multicoloured carnival of lights and true to form my camera ran out of film. Pre-digital of course, so the wonder of it all only lives on in our memories. Back in Rome I panicked for some time on waking up at night in pitch dark, darkness that had never happened during my Nordic adventures. There, there was the beige glow of the star-dotted sky outside the window for hours around midnight, and a sun that never quite set. Summer Solstice

Objectively, here in these southern climes, there’s not all that much to celebrate today, as summer solstice only underlines the fact we do have sun, a lot of it, and can probably expect a couple of months’ more of the same, including a few weeks of suffocating humid heat. What’s to celebrate?

This year Romans decided to celebrate the pagan rites – but differently, by voting in a brand new Mayor. A woman and youngest mayor ever, the candidate of a grassroots movement or party or whatever it calls itself. Obviously, with Italy’s reputation for being a bit of (?) a male-dominated culture, the foreign media couldn’t get enough of her in the last few weeks. Her party was created by an ex-comedian turned aggressive politician, and reports of his in-house autocratic top-down management style have been all over the press. The movement claims it stands for Change, with a capital C, so they were voted in by people fed up with the corrupt and inefficient status quo, though many Romans don’t really seem to know what they’ve ushered in. Local culture tends to be pretty change-resistant, so maybe the only way for Romans to move ahead was to go off the deep end.

Top of Madam Mayor’s program is transparency for a scandal-ridden town, but there’s already a question of her having allegedly denied at one point having worked as a lawyer for another municipal agency and/or of having declared the work belatedly. Her nay-sayers claim her contract was renewed with the assistance of a person connected to her party. Plus ça change…

But one really nice thing did happen this my solstice-day morning. To upend any notion that macho Italian males are kitchen averse, one of the members of a team I’m working with these days brought us all the most delicious chocolate muffins he made himself.  The meeting was predictably a particularly pleasant one. Apparently he enjoys baking for his kids as a hobby, and decided to treat us all today. He must have caught the solstice vibes!

Meeting over chocolate muffins

Meeting over chocolate muffins


Astronomically, tonight will also be a Strawberry Moon night, and the last really dual event was almost 70 years ago. So lighting my festive pagan candles tonight is a must …


Do you celebrate solstices in any way?


Photos:The Campidoglio: ;   Summer Solstice: ; Rome SPQR: ;  map of Rome districts: ; chocolate muffins:

This entry was posted in Blogging, Cultural, Elections, Italy, Opinion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to No Summer Solstice in Rome

  1. We had a small fire and toasted marshmallows – in a dual celebration of the solstice and having JT’s children here for a week and moving into our new home. (I’m pretty sure the Druids would have toasted marshmallows if they could).

    My real celebrations was sitting on our porch (I have a porch, with a rocker!) the next morning with European strength coffee, watching the sun rise and the full moon set on different sides of the house.

    Can I also add my vote for Ellen as Chief High Druid?

  2. lundygirl says:

    Hi Bea, I don’t really celebrate the summer solstice but I do always take the time to think that we have reached the longest day of the year – here the morning was torrential rain. No surprise there! But it is great to have light into the night and enjoy being a part of natures cycle of the year. I did laugh when reading about the tractor driver and the chocolate muffins look great.

  3. Its nice to have pictures, but the memories are what really count and you seem to have some wonderful ones of that trip. By the way, we heard that the reason that it is called a “Strawberry Moon” is that it happens when the strawberries are supposed to be turning ripe (but not here in Colorado ;))

  4. Hi Bea,

    I don’t do anything special for the Summer Solstice, but I would love to go to Stonehenge for the event! I just can’t imagine the scene there.


  5. Ellen Hawley says:

    Why thank you. No one’s ever said that to me before.

  6. zipfslaw1 says:

    Ha–great story about the Norwegian farmer! Congratulations on the new mayor–even the American news media mentioned the outcome.

    • Bea dM says:

      I still remember the farmer’s expression after all these years 🙂 And thanks, but let’s wait for the next episodes … !

  7. Anonymous says:

    “Wish I was there” is my response to your evocative Norwegian solstice story! I’ve just lit a candle to celebrate with you this momentous strawberry moon (tell us more about that!). As for the new female Roman Mayor, all I can say is “poveraccia” (poor thing)… I don’t think she’ll last long. Ciao!

  8. Ellen Hawley says:

    There’s a group that celebrates the summer and winter solstice on the moors nearby, and we’ve gone a couple of times. Since this involves watching the sun come up, it involves getting up seriously early in summer. Instead, I decided to celebrate by getting something fluish, so I’m sitting around the house feeling sorry for myself.

    It’s not as much fun as watching someone drive a tractor into a tree, I admit, but it’ll have to do.

    • Bea dM says:

      Sorry ’bout that, try Druid chanting? The moon’s really huge and gold – I was expecting strawberry colour …

      • Ellen Hawley says:

        Sadly, no one really speaks Druid anymore. Assorted people declare themselves to be Druids, but since they haven’t anymore clue what the Druids were about than anyone else, I might was well announce myself to be the Chief High Druid and–. Hmm. Wait. Maybe I should. I’ll have to look up strawberry moon first, though.Seems like something I’d need to know. It was so cloudy here that we were effectively moonless.

      • Bea dM says:

        Ellen you’d make a superb Chief High Druid !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s