At one time or another, most of us have probably dreamed of holing up in a cabin somewhere to finish a particularly troublesome project. For a writer like me, that would be the essay that’s taking forever, the manuscript that got sidetracked, the novel that keeps getting postponed by life’s day-to-day interruptions.
Even better than a cabin in the woods, how about an isolated, 800-year-old casa in Italy? No distractions there, right?
That’s what I thought before I learned about the scorpions.
Something they don’t tell you in the travel brochures: There are LOTS of scorpions in Italy! Fortunately they aren’t the kind that kill you. Of the approximately 1400 species of scorpion worldwide, only twenty-five are deadly, and Euscorpius alpha Caporiacco – the black, nocturnal species prevalent in Italy and southern Switzerland – isn’t among them. The sting of the Italian version has been likened to that of a wasp, fatal only to someone who happens to be allergic.
Nevertheless, it’s more than a little unnerving to pick up a houseplant or look under a cabinet and find one of them staring back at you. They are definitely . . . creepy. The good news is that travelers visiting Italy can avoid being stung by simply hanging up clothes (don’t leave anything on the floor), shaking out shoes, and never walking barefoot at night.
Unfortunately for me, scorpions aren’t the only distractions in bella Italia. For one, there is traffic noise at all hours, especially first thing in the morning. Nothing a chicken dinner wouldn’t fix, though.
Speaking of food, the produce here is great! Fresh vegetables, fruits, cheeses, pastas, pizzas, meats . . . did I mention chicken? I’ve been doing a lot of cooking over here. Hmmm. Maybe I can work something about that into my writing?
And then there’s the coast. Tourist season is coming up soon, so my wife Susan and I decided it would be much smarter, not to mention cost effective, to travel to the beach now rather than later. Here’s a picture of us on the sand of Sardinia.
We also visited the island of Elba, where I did some firsthand research on Napoleon that might come in handy . . .
Anyway, am I getting any writing done here in Italy? You bet. In fact, I’m just about to get back to work on my L.A. Sniper manuscript – the fourth in my “Kane Novel” series—right after I swat a couple scorpions, BBQ some chicken, and kick back for a while on the terrace.
What’s your worst insect encounter? Do bugs creep you out? What distracts you from your work? Please leave a comment and join the conversation!
Kenny GREENBAUM says
Good to hear you are “surviving” the scorpions and the fruit/cheese plates. We were in Stresa two weeks ago, anywhere near you?
Yep, still surviving, and actually getting a little more work done than I suggested in my post. We’re near Perugia, which is halfway between Rome and Florence. LONG way from Stresa. Beautiful up there in the lake region near Switzerland! We plan to visit there sometime too — as soon as we take care of the chicken situation.
Great legs (both of you) and great selfie. No wonder you are still working on the new book. Have you had any target practice at dawn when the chooks wake up first?
Down Under we are faced with a few nasties, including sea water crocs up North that make some wonderful beaches almost unusable. Generally it is spiders we fear when gardening, especially the Red Back (poisonous but not normally deadly) and Funnelwebs (sometimes fatal but there is now an antivenom) which are pretty common in parts of Sydney.
One of the most famous old Bush songs is “Redback on the Toilet Seat” because in the old days one of their preferred habitats was the outside Dunny (toilet).
Your insects (and crocs) in Australia make our problems pale by comparison! I remember a National Geographic (?) video on all the poisonous varieties of snakes and spiders Down Under. Scary! I guess I shouldn’t complain. Do you have any dangerous chickens?
Jim Crocker says
Mind if I join the party? I just hit the Slim Newton link and that’s just precious. I’ll be firing that one off around the web.
I talked to a woman in northern Florida with a huge rattlesnake problem. Her and her husband would go out after dark with big headlamps on there hats and a Mossberg shotguns and walk the property blasting away for hours.
Yeah, snakes . . . especially poisonous ones. I saw a lot of them when I lived in California. Swatting scorpions is definitely preferable.
Scorpions….Sardinia….Elba…..fowl traffic…..pranzo on the terrace….lovely legs on the beach…….meraviglioso!!!!!
Yeah, life is sweet. And at least two of the legs on the beach are lovely.
Larry Levine says
I can’t stand snakes. They creep me out
Ditto. I used to like them as a kid. Later that changed — maybe because I ran into so many rattlers in California. Not crazy about big spiders, either, except possibly tarantulas and daddy longlegs.
Tony Stewart says
I`m anticipating your new book but impatience is just one of my virtues.
You already know most of my vices.
I wish I could post a few images: one of a huge black scorpion from here in my home, & one of an even more terrifying big black hairy monster.
Both are real, but I`ll let readers imagine.
As you well know, most terrifying in man`s psyche is his imagination.
I promise to have “L.A. Sniper” completed before too long. It’s going well, better than I indicated in the post, and I’m too far along now not to finish. I’d love to share your monster images. You have a great eye and it shows in your photos. Let’s figure out how to do that . . . maybe a guest post?
Larry Gannon says
Any centipede in Italy? Those are the bad boys in Hawaii .
The beach looks fantastic
Best place for a pizza margarita?
Yep, we have centipedes here, but they are the little kind. Not dangerous, but they are irritating, as they seem to be able to get inside no matter what you do, and they will get on cloth (like the bed), which scorpions seem to avoid.
Great pizza, margarita and otherwise, is everywhere! Interesting, however, is that people don’t share pizza much over here. You will see a table of eight and everyone has their own. The pizzas aren’t huge, but they aren’t little, either.
Elaine Phillips says
Glad to see that you two are having a wonderful time – scorpions and all! The countryside is so beautiful – we have been to Italy three times and loved each visit. Things are nice and green here in Sun Valley – very pretty – wildflowers are magnificent. Glad to hear the book is coming along! Can’t wait to read it! Love to you and Susan from Mike and Elaine
Look forward to seeing you and Mike soon! Beautiful here, but SV isn’t bad either!
jay allender says
Hi Steve. Glad to hear from you and about your current adventures. We have scorpion also but have seen very few since our arrival in Arizona (9 years already) Plenty of rattle snakes though and some close encounters. At present we are enjoying Sidney, B.C. for the month June. Great area. Anyway stay safe and away from the critters. J&S
Thanks, jay and Sonja
Stay safe yourself. I think your scorpions are more dangerous than ours, and of course rattlesnakes . . .
Jim Crocker says
Very nice, Steve. I have fond memories of scorpions in southeast Asia and the giant centipede. Would not want to be locked in a box with any of those things. Other than one thing that quickly pops to mind, I wouldn’t want to be locked in a box with anything. The bug will do it every time, Steve. Ruin a night’s sleep. Ruin a vacation, even. And Italy at that, eh?
We don’t have any serious bug issues where I live in Montana. It’s our big secret. Not even snakes. There’re bears and mountain lions, but hey. Many people don’t even have screens. Motion detectors for nightly predators is something else again. I never leave the house at night. Sometimes you can actually hear ’em howling and growling out there. Yikes!
Hi again, Jim,
I have been getting a lot of responses mentioning giant centipedes, especially in Hawaii. I’ve never seen one, and I hope I never do. I think I”d rather deal with a bear or mountain lion, which we do have in Idaho. Actually, I feel lucky if I get to see one of them. They are pretty shy in our area. Don’t think I’d like to run into a grizzly, however (see my post on Hollywood Killers).
I have just had the worst attack from the smallest bug, the midge. Last Saturday we were sitting on our patio when an almost microscopic midge flew past my face. On Sunday I had a couple of small bites on my right eyebrow and on Monday they scabbed up. On Tuesday the eyelid was swollen and I went to the Doctor and got antibiotics and antihistamine but by Wednesday my right eye was part closed and my vision was like a blind pulled down over my right eye and it was so swollen and painful. I went around telling my friends how my wife had socked me!!
Thursday morning it was still partly closed but by the end of the day (now) it is getting slowly better but the 2 bites are still inflamed and sore. Tomorrow, hopefully all will get back to normal.
So you don’t need a big bug to lay you low!!!
You’re making me feel grateful for only having to deal with scorpions! Damn bugs . . . Hope you feel better soon.
It wasn’t bug, it was ophthalmic nerve SHINGLES! My GP spotted it and put me on antiviral pills a couple of days ago and it seems to be under control with only a couple of blisters near my right eye.
My best friends tell me that the perfect treatment is very cheap white wine – and my local bottle shop has a drinkable one at $3 per bottle. Maybe it would be easier and cheaper in Italy.
The eye seems to be fine – in the past before antiviral medication it could be dangerous. It’s times like this that you realise how vulnerable and valuable your eyes are.
I’m really sorry to hear that. I had a case on my chest and my back years ago, and I still suffer some aftereffects including occasional pain. I hope you recover quickly and completely.
BTW, there is a vaccine to prevent shingles, or Herpes Zoster, and I would recommend that anyone reading this who hasn’t already done so, GET IMMUNIZED. I did after the fact, as the disease can reoccur.
I was running on the trails in Whiting Ranch(Orange County) downhill, and literally ran into a bee. I was stung smack in the middle of my breast(the nipple to be exact). Feeling the pain, shock, and panic, I noticed a ranger jeep coming up the hill. Lucky for me it was a woman ranger with a great remedy for stings. She had a “bee”pack that was a 2×2 gauze pad with ointment on it. She told me to slip it into the jog bra and by the time I was back to my car, the stinger would be out and I would have no pain. Yea! It worked. I guess I was just too fast for my own britches.
Ouch! I’m going to need some time thinking about this one.