We have gone from 21C ( 70F) to 35C ( 95F) in two shakes of a cats tail as my grandmother would say and we are not alone the rest of Italy has joined in as well. The papers this morning are full of pictures of beaches crowded with people and roads brimming with cars heading to already busy lidos.
Apart from being in Italian the papers mirror ones in the UK when the sun appears. Brighton is the favoured beach and the press have a field day with crowds in the sea and deckchairs covering the pebble beach. Italians love the sun and celebrate it’s arrival as much as the British do. I know of no other Mediterranean country that goes as mad about it as they do. Maybe it is because the weather is as unpredictable as the UK but the sun comes out and so do the Italians in their droves.
I am a sun worshiper myself. Geraldine has a photo of me in Alice Springs in the middle of Australia lying on a lounger by a pool with the outside temperature of 132F. There is nobody else around just me enjoying a few rays . The swimming pool water temp was a pleasant 120F which made swimming for me very bearable .
So it is another reason I love Italians. Walk through Martina Franca today and on every balcony that the sun has reached there is someone sitting on a seat with their face turned to the golden globe . They love tanning and compare arm colour with everyone else after a day in it. I remember in the 1950’s that here in Italy beaches were packed with Italians at weekends. This wasn’t the case in Spain or Greece where beaches were undeveloped until mass tourism started to arrive in the middle 60’s.
The other great thing is that Italians being so sociable like to be together so on beaches if someone sits down within seconds another will sit down alongside them and within minutes that area of beach will be packed with people unpacking chairs, tables, sunshades, bottles of wine, food hampers, towels and the dreaded beach tennis paddles and ball. Lunch cannot be missed even when at the beach and after lunch nor can the compulsory game of beach tennis in the shallows . Of course 100 other couples have the same idea and then there are doubles and indeed why not form a cricle and 10 of you have a go. But that sociableness is great because walk past the groups packed in near the beach entrance and you reach pristine deserted beach areas with nobody there. It is a wilderness that no Italian wants to seen dead in. Where is the fun in not being able to talk to everyone else. I did learn a new word from the papers today pienoni . It means packed as in the packed beaches. Pieno means full and those of you reading this that are coming here this year to drive around should learn it as when you drive into your first service station the guy is going to saunter up to your car and ask you in Italian how much you want in the tank. Italians do it by Euros worth €10 or €20 but you can look confident and say pieno ( peeayno) and he will fill the tank for you.
The weather is always good for tourism and the local paper today has some interesting facts.
Someone has leaked the salaries of the two officials who run our two airports down here Brindisi and Bari. Now these are are not big airports, Southend and Norwich probably have similar movements if not more. Nor do those two UK airports have two guys merely overseeing their operations as well as having their own airport managers. Here being government owned they do. Local taxes have increased 270% since 2001 and it is clear why. The “chief” gets €364,000 a year and his deputy €260,000 then they get expenses and each a bonus of €240,000 a year plus a couple of company cars each. Neither airport makes money so they are bonused only on passenger numbers which means nobody is looking at costs. Oh and the poor guys struggle with decision making so they spend €540,000 on consultants each year to help them make those loss making decisions. So now we know where our local taxes go.
Still the sun is shining, the sea is blue, the wine is chilled and the beach awaits.
I met Alan Price ( Papers above) in Newcastle in 1968. I was in the bar ( for a change) of the Gosforth Park Hotel and on the other barstool was this very pleasant geordie lad and we chatted about things. I had no idea who he was but we got on really well and the beer flowed as he told me about his father and mother who he was up visiting . He came up once a month but explained there was no room in the house so he stayed at the hotel. He went off to the loo and the bar man said you know who that is and it was Alan Price. I, of course, knew of him in the Animals and that year he had formed the Alan Price Set. On his return we sat and chatted about music and his mate Chas Chandler the bass guitarist who was already buying property in Newcastle and went on to discover and manage Slade the Brummie group from Wolverhampton. It was 2 a.m. by the time we closed the bar. You couldn’t have met a nicer more down to earth guy but then most Geordies are like that.