Summer has finally arrived here in Calabria and what an entrance it has made! It’s strutted its stuff, reached for the sunglasses and firmly planted itself here ready to get temperatures sweltering and making doing anything virtually impossible. There are two tell-tale signs that we are in full-swing; 1) the shopping centres are empty, not a single pedicured, high-heeled, stilettoed foot is parading in giro and 2) in schools the students are dwindling, staring wide-eyed out the window and dreaming of the beach, even their fidget spinners aren’t helping. As towns empty the beaches fill up, especially here in Calabria where the beaches are its pride and joy. However, like all good things in Italy there is a certain etiquette or unwritten code that you must adopt if you want to enjoy the beach Calabrese style…
Imagine you ge to the beach and there’s just a lone parasol with a small family soaking up the sun. Where would you go? Etiquette requires you to position yourself as far away from them as possible so that you both have privacy doesn’t it? Wrong. There is actually a super secret magnet positioned within the said parasol which forces people as close together as possible, ideally so your towels are almost touching. This allows the beach-goer to listen to all the conversations of those next to them, allows for food exchanges and of course gives the sun seeker a reference point to see how bronzed their skin is becoming.
Picnic on the beach?
Most beach -goers will pack themselves a sandwich, perhaps a piece of fruit and a bottle of water for their lunch. Step aside sun seekers, the Calabrese are here. When food tastes this good why would you let a bit of sand get in the way of an opportunity to feast. You can identify the Calabrese from the sheer number of cool bags and thermo-bags they unload from their cars and stack under the parasols (note the plural noun, one brolly won’t suffice, they’re setting up camp here). As you nibble on your soggy bread, you will enviously eye up the calabrian 3 course meal that is being devoured next to you. Complete with proper cutlery, the plates may be plastic but the forks certainly aren’t, you will salivate as you see plate after plate of delicious Calabrian food being plated up and consumed. Smile sweetly and you might get their leftovers.
Bring the family along
Talking of bringing things in mass, it’s not just the food that you’ll see in numerous quantities. Calabrians don’t make a trip to the beach alone, aunties, uncles, cousins, the guy who lives next door who’s not technically family but turns up at every meal anyway, will all be in attendance. As the umbrellas start to look more like a festival than a trip to the beach, the decibels will rise. Italians are probably the most sociable nation in the
world universe so it makes sense that a day out should be enjoyed by EVERYONE. Besides it means you always have someone to help you rub in your suntan lotion.
Only joking. What is suntan lotion anyway? Far better to fill a plastic spritzy bottle with tanning oil and lavishly spray until you resemble a bronzed adonis. Well, you’ve got to give it to them they are bloody gorgeous. ****Seriously, suntan lotion is becoming slightly more popular but I don’t want to joke about the importance of suncream and I in no way endorse tanning oils. Stay safe people.
Managing to look gorgeous on the beach
As I’ve said above, the Italians are gorgeous. While the rest of us exit the sea looking as though we’ve just escaped from jaws, with the beach hair look just being matted, straw-like curls, you turn to see the Italians and they look as though they’re shooting a Dolce & Gabbana commercial. Defying all science and general laws of physics you will inwardly sigh at your pathetic northern european heritage as they bound around playing volleyball as if pasta isn’t really a carbohydrate.
And while we’re on the subject of looking gorgeous I have three words. Teenage Shoreline Selfies. Unashamingly posed without batting an eyelid. They simply have to be seen to be believed.
To swim or not to swim?
“Come on darling let’s go for a swim!” I say as I bound into the water like an energetic puppy, albeit a St Bernard. As I surface I look around for my husband, where is he? Oh yes, he’s standing on the shore line, hands on hips surveying the water. Every now and then he might splash water on his arms as he decides whether to enter the water. Why? who knows.
While I write in jest, this article is clearly very tongue-in-cheek, I must reiterate how beautiful the beaches are here in Calabria and a day at the beach here is one that you will definitely enjoy thanks to the gorgeous clear waters and the beautiful scenery. To check out Calabria’s best beaches read my post here.