Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Last Day of a Tuscan Summer, 2013

In 2011 I wrote a post called "The Last Day of Summer," recounting my adventures in Monterosso in Liguria on the last beach day before unexpected flooding.
Well, on Sunday, Sept. 22, I headed to Follonica way down on the Tuscan coast for 
another last day of summer.  There must be an unwritten law that these occasions are always special, as indeed this day again was.

As seen through my beach umbrella, the sun radiated gentle warmth.  The beach was not crowded.  There were mainly locals on the silk-textured sand,
the water absolutely crystal clear and not too cold.

I went swimming around noon, with the idea of drying off, maintaining my tan, and having lunch
under the umbrella.
Well, the first strange thing happened while I was in the water.  I could see all the umbrellas were suddenly shut where I was hanging out, at the Orchidea (Orchid) establishment, right below a modest hotel on the beach that had closed the previous week.  "Hey, that's funny," I thought, "the wind is not even blowing."

By the time I got back, all the locals had abandoned the sun beds (above),
presumably having gone home to have lunch.
The lifeguards had disappeared as well--which I had never seen before.
I hadn't even paid for the sun bed and beach umbrella, wondered was was going on, but wasn't too worried.  My mood was mellow, like the day.

The hotel café was closed, so I walked along Follonica's shoreline and found a seafood
restaurant.  I was actually looking for a cold beer to go along with my sandwich.
The kind owner, a complete stranger, sold me a bottle, and when I asked for a plastic cup, handed me
a fine crystal wine goblet.
"You won't be far, and I'm sure you'll bring it back."
Later I did, of course, and had a stand-up espresso at the rustic wooden counter next to the dining room.

When I returned to my umbrella, the empty sun beds had been commandeered by a young, obviously local crowd.  Is everything practically free the last day of summer, I wondered?
The sun beds were again abandoned at 4 o'clock, as everyone but me obviously knew
that the lifeguards would be coming back to pack everything away.

I asked Marco, the one lifeguard I had met, what I owed.
"10 euro," he said--I handed him a 20.
"I have no change," he replied, and took what change I had--6 euro, and put it in his pocket.
Ci si rifa un'altro anno, he said.
"You'll be back."

"Look, it is so clear you can see Corsica," he said, pointing to the horizon.
All Tuscans are sure that they are sighting Corsica when they see
land in the distance framing a seascape.

Being American, later I looked a map and realized it was probably Elba.
My last day of summer 2013 was certainly less of an adventure than the October 14, 2011 post.
Instead, the day had such a soft quality about it, as you can seen from the picture (all were taken spontaneously with my I phone).

Back in Florence, at the end of the 10 pm news, I couldn't believe my ears when
the solemn newscaster announced:
"In two hours, it will be September 23.  Today is the last day of summer."
(Oggi è l'ultimo giorno d'estate).

Do Italians ever take notice of the calendar?--no, that's that point of living in this country.
The fall equinox was on Sept. 21, but obviously the newscaster, like all natives,
knew better and simply stated the obvious.

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