Umbrella Mice and Budgie Smugglers

Hottest day of the year 41C ( 105F) but the heatwave is not expected to last past tomorrow when we return to normal summer days. Still we were on a mercy food drop this morning down to the beach. A friend’s daughter and two girl friends are in their parents apartment by the sea in Torre Canne and had run out of food. Now no Italian mother can ever have this happen and as the father of the house was picking tomatoes at 5 a.m. I was drafted in as relief driver. So we picked up mother and enough food to feed Torre Cane for a week and headed to the beach as did about 2,000 other people.

From now till August 25th you have to time your arrival at the beach if you want to find space. Italians go to the beach in the morning from about 8 till 12.30 and then swathes of them depart to go for lunch either in the rented accommodation or back home. Some eager beavers return in the afternoon and do it again and they are supplemented by people who come for the cooler part of the day 4p.m. till 8 p.m. after the siesta. So just after 12.30 is optimum . As you arrive cars are pouring out of the car-parks and in you sweep and onto the beach.

However the papers today are full of warnings about petty theft on the beaches. The crisi ( Recession) has bought a big increase in reported thefts  and the crime is described as  “topi di ombrellone” or umbrella mice.  They warn people especially of free beaches where there are no attendants nor life guards to be especially careful with their belongings. It seems these umbrella mice sit on their own towel watching people and their movements. They wait patently until they see that the umbrella has been left with bags etc around it whilst the owners take a well deserved cool down in the sea from the heat. Again, say the police they wait till the owners are well into the sea and then one of the gang walks up to the umbrella and there drops his towel as if by accident. In retrieving the towel he also lifts anything he can see like mobile phones, wallets, small bags etc and wraps them in the said towel and wanders casually away along the beach . These are handed to another of the gang and the process starts again further down.

To combat this crime wave ( excuse the pun) police both local and Carabiniere started uniformed patrols along various beaches in Puglia.  Perhaps unsurprisingly they failed to apprehend any of the crooks, I guess even the greenest of thieves could probably make out a policeman in full rig with gun, truncheon etc and scarper. Now policing today is all about results and stats so prevention doesn’t cut the mustard. Criminals must be caught.

Enter the plain clothed cop. Well not really plain clothed more the undressed cop.  Local police and Carabiniere are turning up on the beach in their Speedos and a towel to outsmart the bad guys.  Australians call Speedos budgie smugglers for I guess fairly obvious reasons. So I, of course, started to chuckle as I read this article on the beach this morning thinking of these cops in their budgie smugglers. It gives a whole new meaning to the Mae West remark ” is that a gun in your pocket “. Mind you where is the gun I wonder.

I came across a very nice video the other day on the area in which we live and it features the three towns nearest us. Martina Franca, Locorotondo and Cisternino . It is in Italian but the visual makes it pretty clear what they are saying and it shows the historic areas of the towns really well.

I wonder what time they got up to film Martina Franca so deserted ? Also you will hear towards the end them describe Cisternino as the Slow city using the English word. It certainly exemplifies the driving in Cisternino. In fact slow is an exaggeration. I can only believe that the local driving examiner is either now very rich or is related to almost all the people there ( not unknown up here) and therefore can never fail anyone wishing to drive. for fear of insulting the family.



About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
This entry was posted in Bari Airport Connections, Brindisi Airport, Driving in Italy, Expat Italy, Ferries From Bari, Puglia, Puglia Beaches, Puglia Cooking, Puglia Food, Puglia Guide, Puglia Travel Information and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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