From about the 3rd of July the influx of northern Italians begins. It starts with the office workers, factory managers and civil servants who are not tied to the closure of the factory for their holiday and then around August 13th the steady trickle becomes a raging torrent.
Many of these arrivals are returnees. People that left Puglia in search of work in the North and return to live in the houses close relatives left them or places they themselves left a few years before. They virtually all have one thing in common , the need to show success in the form of conspicuous wealth . The first few visits the Mercedes, BMW or Audi does the trick but clearly the neighbours get used to this so new gizmos have to be produced on subsequent visits. Last year to my annoyance in terms of internet access it was iPads and other tablets to play with . Whatever signal we have down here it cannot take huge usage and the whole thing starts to crash with monotonous regularity.
This year the plaything of choice appears to be the Lambretta. Now for the life of me I do not know how they are getting them down here or whether they purchase them once here but they are out in numbers.
The new game is the shiny new Lambretta is wheeled out always at about 11 a.m. . This is done by the husband who is sporting just a pair of shorts or better still swimming trunks with flip flops on his feet. The children of the family under the age of 10 run out also dressed in their swimmers and are placed in height order smallest at the front tallest at the back standing in the space between the seat and the handle bars. Lambrettas are generous with this space and three kids fit easily into it. They are instructed to hang on tight and the hubby kicks the engine into life and the tribe set off for a quiet motor around the ” quiet” backroads of the Valle d’Itria. The roads as I walk are now alive with the buzz of these Lambrettas and my heart is in my mouth everytime one of them passes me with the kids shouting with glee . No one on board seems in anyway to understand the risks they are taking. These roads are hardly quiet. There is little traffic but what there is are either half blind old boys or girls driving at best to the front of the bonnet ( hood) and steering away at the last minute from blobs they see ahead of them or boy racers driving at 100 kph on roads designed for 30 kph. Add to this mix the local haulage and crane hire company that drives european size trucks on these country roads filling entirely the space to the stone walls on either side and you have an idea of what I mean.
Still I’m sure you think that the local police will stop this crazy practice. Hmm unfortunately the Monti cuts have taken their toll. The police force is like most companies unable to fire people when cuts happen. It is more expensive to get rid of a worker here than keep him on so cutting people is not an option. Instead the local force cut the number police cars from 5 to 1. Now 4 policemen cram into one car to patrol and they have to be back by lunchtime so the chief can go home.
Now I remember the Lambretta from the mods and rockers of the 60’s. Leather clad rockers on 250 cc motorbikes battling the dapper dressed parka clad mods on scooters every bank holiday on various beaches around Britain. It seems they had to drive somewhere to then do battle rather than do it where they lived so on a nice bank holiday why not go to the coast so they did. Dance halls were another favourite venue for a dust up especially if a “mod” band was playing that night. The rockers had their music as well and somewhere on it had to be the revving of a motorbike .
Of course dance halls are a thing of the past now as well, they were pretty well dead by the time the mods and rockers were in their heyday but in 1982 The Kinks a great mod group of the 60’s penned this number to celebrate their demise.