Nothing new

In the winter of 1510 the snow lay more than two feet deep in the streets, ‘so that you could not get out of the houses to do business without removing it, and so everyone cleared his own entrance. And most people in Florence went up on to the roofs of their houses to clear the snow and throw it down in the streets, to relieve the roofs, for fear that they might collapse under the great weight of it. The cold was so great that after lunch, when the sun was slightly stronger than in the morning, the roofs started to drip, and there was none without icicles under the eaves, two or three feet long, which seemed to be pieces of crystal. Sometimes one fell, and would have killed anyone it hit on the head, they were so large and pointed. The people were careful not to walk under the eaves, and you also had to take care where you put your feet, because of the great sheets of ice on all the streets, for when the snow melted from the roofs, the drops turned to ice as soon as they touched the street, so that it was like walking on diamonds. You could never walk with enough caution, because you never went from home to work without falling over once or twice. Because of the great cold that year the vines were bitten with frost on the plains of Florence and Prato, and also any olives and figs and oranges, so that the following year there was a bad wine and oil harvest, and not a single walnut was gathered.’
from the chronicle of Bartolommeo Masi, quoted in John Gage’s ‘Life in Italy at the time of the Medici.’

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  1. “like walking on diamonds” – only in Florence would they think of such a metaphor!

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