Summer is in full swing here to in Puglia and temperatures are rising towards 40°C, humidity is also on the rise and I’m melting! So, there is only one thing for it, the beach! Or ‘al mare’ as the Italians say. Spoilt for choice, between the Ionian and the Adriatic coastline, my decision is usually based on how quickly I want to hit the beach, go for a dip in the warm waters and catch a few rays whilst relaxing on the sand. The Adriatic is closer to where I live and there are plenty of good public and private lidos to choose from. One advantage of the Adriatic coast, is that it is possible to swim there without having to trek miles out to sea before the water is deep enough to go for a swim. However, the Ionian coast is considered to be the ‘Maldives of Italy’, with its crystal clear waters, spotless beaches and shallow waters; it is very popular with families and couples alike. So, whichever you choose, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Hitting the beach like a local
In order to blend in with the locals, you need to be well versed on what to take to the beach. For Italians it a great family day out, especially on a Sunday, and they make sure they take everything but the kitchen sink.
Here’s a little list of the essentials
- Sun loungers or chairs (chairs seem to be favoured)
- Umbrella or two to provide that only important shade and to ensure you commandeer a large proportion of the beach. Some larger families even pitch a tent or pergola!!!
- A pop-up table
- A set of playing cards (or 2)
- Cool box with enough food to feed a small army
- Water and coke (not many take alcohol on the beach, except maybe some of the youngsters, and me…you can’t beat a super chilled beer on a hot summers day!)
- A water bottle with a spray attachment in order to spritz yourself when you’re feeling too hot, but are unable to move from your chair to the sea to cool off!!!
- A sack full of toys for the kids (if you have any of course!)
Once you’ve packed everything but the kitchen sink, and you’ve selected your beach, it’s time to find the perfect spot. Prime location is right on the water’s edge. Don’t worry about getting too close to your neighbours, Italians are very friendly and often pitch their camp within millimetres of your location, so the important thing here is, if you see a spot, make your claim and get in it quickly!
Unpack all of the above, huddle in the shade with all your friends or family, eat focaccia, play cards, go for a dip, relax and watch the world go by. Oh, and don’t forget to take a few selfies!!!