Though the temps here cannot compare to what some of you have already suffered in New Jersey and New York, after a very wet and cool spring, the hot 90s finally arrived yesterday.
The geographic shape of Italy allows for a major amount of coastline, and Italians sure take advantage of it. One of the favorite past-times is going "to the sea" (unlike the "beach", or the "shore" as we New Jerseyians say) and getting the darkest tan you can (tans and wearing fur are not at all taboo here). Andrea grew up going to the sea for a month every summer. The sea air and sun is a cure-all for everything, and one can book a room at one of the zillion hotels and for a relatively inexpensive price, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room and in between lay on your sunbed on the beach. The beaches have a line of "bagno"s (pronounced ban-yo"), low buildings on the sand that are privately owned, and provide sunbeds, umbrellas, a restaurant (or snack bar), and play area for kids, showers, bathrooms, etc. In the trendiest sections (where all the beautiful soccer players and disco queens show off their bodies), you can pay more than 20 euros for one sunbed. We went to the beach yesterday in the more family catered section, and paid 16 euros for two sunbeds and an umbrella. But these are on the Adriatic coast in this region. There are less trendy beaches to go to but it is not as fun to people watch (and I was to afraid to wear a bikini!?).
But because everyone goes to the beach, especially on the weekends, there is an exodus from Bologna and the trip which should normally take just over an hour took two. So unless we plan to spend the night or leave from Lugo (which is 30 minutes from the coast), we won't do it again as it was more stressful and time-consuming than fun.
But, admittedly, I am not a fan of tans (I wear spf 50) so I am glad that Andrea told me to smack him next time he suggests driving to the sea just for the day.
Of course, here I am talking about the local beaches. This region of Emilia Romagna holds the most developed and attended beaches. The beaches of Sicily are amazing and unlike those of the mainland, and I understand Puglia is just gorgeous. The water here can be smelly on some days as it is more of an inlet between Italy and Croatia rather than an ocean. There are little waves, if any, and coming here is to experience a large part of the culture rather than to enjoy a dramatic and refreshing break from living inland.