There are a few sure ways to know that summer in Italy has kicked into full gear. One, of course, is the heat. While that's kind of a no-brainer, it seems that we don't really have a spring to speak of. It just goes from cool and maybe a little damp to hot and dry in the blink of an eye. And the heat has been rather unrelenting throughout July. Having spent 20 years in the desert, I'm certainly used to it, and since the winter was long and snowy, I'm not complaining a bit. But my compaesani are lamenting endlessly and thus putting themselves into the second sure way of knowing it's summer - the beach.
Everyone seeks relief at the beach. Which means they're swarming and sweltering, especially on the weekends. If you want to snag a spot at one of the seaside lidos that lay out ordered rows of chairs and umbrellas on a Sunday, you have to call and reserve in advance. Trying to swim is a fruitless endeavor as there are too many people sitting in and floating on the water. The town sort of empties out on Saturday or Sunday morning, then the beleagered sea-goers come home hotter than when they started. Unfortunately, the Ionian coast is the closest sea to us, but its shallow water and flat plains means its hotter than other beaches. The water is like a hot spring instead of a cool plunge in the ocean. For that, we'd head to Maratea, a gorgeous town on the Mediterranean side of Basilicata. But it's just far enough away to make it logistically more difficult for a day trip. But what a world away it is from the other side!
The third sure thing in summer is that wedding season kicks in. We were invited to a wonderful wedding in July, a sort of replay of the one we attended last year, as the respective brides are sisters. The Angeli, as the couple is known because their names are Angelo and Angela, tied the knot in a traditional way with a fun festa to follow up the ceremony that lasted until midnight. We're always really touched to be included in these festivities, being the newcomers to this town.
And then there's the general busyness that happens, with people coming back for visits, hanging out in the piazza until the wee hours (le piccole ore, as they say here), and sagras and festivals and concerts and theatrical productions crowding the calendar. While it's true that August brings a work shut-down in Italy, it also brings a jam-packed line-up of events to enjoy.
I'll be missing out on some of the more merry happenings here, as I'll be traveling to the US soon. Like the predictable Italian schedule, I'm taking my vacation in August- something I never used to do. But when in Rome...