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Watch out for the Garbino

Yesterday was a strange day weatherwise here in Rimini. The day started off well, with a relatively blue sky and sunshine. Temperatures hot, but not particularly humid. Classic july weather then.

The first sign of trouble comes around lunchtime, when a large family lunch becomes tense (or tenser than usual – to an outsider, a large Italian lunch always seems a little like a battleground). Tempers fray and voices are raised. In the cool of an air-conditioned room afterwards it’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason for the argument.

Cycling later along the beachfront the reason becomes clearer – the Garbino has momentarily returned!

What is the Garbino? It’s a warm wind that blows up the coast from North Africa, via Malta, into Italy. It gets everywhere, and manages to dry out both your skin and your patience.

Outside of Emilia-Romagna the wind is commonly known as the Libeccio (the name is thought to have originated in Malta, and refers to Libya – the supposed origin of the wind). Alternately it’s known as the Africo.

It’s common to describe someone inexplicably irritable or nervous here with the phrase ‘ha il garbino’ – he has the Garbino – which gives you an idea of how the wind is viewed. Alternatively, as Maria Cristina writes here, if someone gives you a curt response it’s common enough in Romagnolo dialect  to reply ‘Oz e’ tira pròpri e’ garbéin…’ (there’s a garbino today eh’).

Aside from the raised temperatures and discomfort that the Garbino brings, it also traditionally signals the arrival of rain. Locals will tell you that the Garbino typically blows for about three days before rain arrives punctually – though that, like most weather patterns these days is increasingly uncertain. The weather forecast for Friday and Saturday, though is for a fall in temperature and heavy rain.

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