Thursday, February 10, 2011

Teenage Mutant Ninja Mosquitoes

In 2005 I lived in Florence, Italy for a summer abroad. 

This was partially an attempt to deal with rough break up, partially an excuse to travel, and partially due to me not wanting to go to back to school.

I had taken a break from college, (which ended up being three semesters long) and was working two jobs.  In all honesty, this was a way for me to go to Europe under the premise that I was making my way back into school.  Of course, I eventually did, and I graduated in 2008.  (Yay!)

I chose Florence as my destination, having always been drawn to the romance the city promised; the art, the sights, the food, it all seemed dreamy.  And it was.

Well, most of it.

In Florence, we went to school five days a week, had nights off and had the weekends to travel.  I went to Switzerland, England, and pretty much every Italian city you can think of during the 8 weeks I spent there.

This is the story of the one weekend in Europe that slipped away...or more specifically was forcefully taken from me.  The one weekend that I will always look back and be really pissed off about.  The one weekend that I will never get back.

It has been over 5 years now since my little European adventure.  Time has almost washed away all the bad memories and I am left with mostly fond ones and photographs....almost.

What I have subconsciously erased from my memory is the extreme physical misery I endured during my trip.  I stayed there for about 2 months...

...In the middle of summer..

...A record breaking hot summer...

It was awful.  If you don't already know, Italy doesn't really believe in air conditioning.  Really, Europe doesn't believe in air conditioning - or ice for that matter, but whatever.  Also, the apartment I was living in was right off the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio (look it up).

While on one hand, I will never forget waking up to the surreal sound of beautifully vintage church bells as I opened my Italian shutters to the cobblestone streets below, I will never forget the mosquitoes.  The evil, evil mosquitoes. 

The little, tiny, carriers of death - and ruiners of my weekend.

I'm a big fan of camping.  Big fan.  I'm somewhat used to getting bitten.  It's extremely uncomfortable and irritating - I don't think anyone would argue otherwise.

Never.  In.  My.  Life.  Have I experienced anything like Italy.  Ever.

My roommate and I occupied the room closest to the river.  Due to no air conditioning, we had to keep the windows open or face certain death. 

:::Enter Mosquitoes (for days):::

I'm pretty sure someone was coming into our room late at night and misting us with invisible blood.  Or maybe we were just that sexy. 

It was probably cause we're sexy.

No one else in our apartment (there were 3 other rooms, 6 other girls) had more than 1 or 2 bites. 

On us, they were everywhere.  Everywhere.  On the bottom of our feet, hands, inner thighs, etc.  Every inch of skin that was not covered by clothing was covered with bites; and really the clothing didn't even seem to stop them.  My roommate even had a bite on her eyelid. 

At one point, I remember actually counting how many bites I had:  I stopped counting at 65.

65.  Bites.

And these weren't just your average mosquito bites.  We were devoured by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Mosquitoes.  These things were huge.  The size of the bites were ridiculous, and they looked like extra nipples all over our bodies (yes, I have photos, to be added later). 

With the combination of the itchiness and the sweltering heat, I have never in my life been more miserable.  We were literally in tears on multiple occasions, and I know my family will always remember the phone calls home.

FINALLY we decided to attempt to put an end to our misery.... finding an Italian Pharmacist. 

We hobbled in, our faces red from hot tears and delirium.  No one spoke English, but fear not, we anticipated this and had learned the Italian word for mosquito for the occasion.

"Zanzara!  Zanzara!!!"  We cried, pointing to the bites covering us.

The pharmacist appeared to understand and disappeared behind the counter.  He reemeged with a few different remedies. 

We felt hopeful.

In broken English, he explained that he was giving us a cream to put on the bites that would in theory help the itching, and then he gave us the pill that was supposedly some sort of antihistamine...supposedly. 

We rushed home, hellbent on some sort of relief.  We applied the cream generously to our pathetically bumpy bodies, and we greedily each swallowed a pill.

This was Friday evening.

...we woke up Sunday night.

Pretty sure they were Italian Roofies.  I still have one floating around somewhere...of course I never dared to try another.  ...Maybe I should have titled this entry "Italian Roofies."

Anyway an entire weekend had passed.  All we can remember is getting up and passing each other's beds on the way to the bathroom, and then falling back into our respective comatose states.

An entire weekend in Europe....gone.  Stolen right out from under me.  Murdered in the heat of the night.  Kidnapped from a street corner with promises of candy and puppies. 

Damn you Italian Mosquitoes.  You may have won the battle, but I will win the war.  Because I will return someday with some sort of Mosquito-Heat-Seeking-Laser-Beam-Gun and kill every single one of you assholes.

(You can't see the bites from here)


  1. Italian mosquitoes sound bad enough - just hope you never encounter the dreaded Scottish Midgie. It's a tiny, gnat-like fly that swarms in little clouds under tress on summer evenings. They attack your head, don't leave lumps but the head itch is enough to make you scratch your scalp 'til it's raw!

  2. Funny account. It must've been bad. I hate them too.