Signs of the times at the Italian seaside

Shifting priorities

Marco Badiani
September 11, 2018 - 11:11

Not so long ago, the family seaside vacation was a time to relax, unwind and reset, a total detachment from work, regular habits and daily hangouts.

It was a switch often ripe with new routines, a.k.a. the things we would only do on holiday, like chilling out in a T-shirt and slip ons, pedalling through the pinewoods even on a rainy day surrounded by the smell of wet resin, buying a magazine you never normally have time to read, spending an entire day with a book under the parasol, so engrossed you forget about lunch, and eating dinner late into the night.


Beach bagno keys / Ph. Marco Badiani

But times have changed, something I realized this summer at my bagno through a social discovery of the anthropological (not social media) variety. First, I listened distractedly to chatter about the slowness of the wi-fi by the water’s edge and then I noticed an odd afternoon migration to the bathing house’s reception. At 4pm on the dot, the Amazon courier arrived. Like a bird watcher, I took up my position in the bar, waiting for the prompt arrival of the first packages on the little bench behind the cash register. The aim of the exercise? To understand what pressing needs had shattered the “unbreakable” distance from things only done in the office.It was a switch often ripe with new routines, a.k.a. the things we would only do on holiday, like chilling out in a T-shirt and slip ons, pedalling through the pinewoods even on a rainy day surrounded by the smell of wet resin, buying a magazine you never normally have time to read, spending an entire day with a book under the parasol, so engrossed you forget about lunch, and eating dinner late into the night.

One lady received French sun cream, the only kind her skin could take. A man with a moustache just couldn’t wait for the latest novel by his favourite author to occupy the shelves of the village bookstore. There was the teenager who absolutely had to have the Playstation game he’d played at a friend’s summer house the night before and the dad who had repurchased earbuds after his original ones had fallen into the sea while building sandcastles; some pills; a pair of wheel rims for the bike that “gave in on the uneven tarmac: those effing pine roots!”, and an inflatable unicorn—this year’s must-have—that none of the coastal shops still had in stock.

Now that we’re back at work, can we order four hours back to back in which to finish all those books we left half read?

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