August in Tuscany means vacation. Stores you thought would be open are closed, while others, wanting to take advantage of the tourists, start keeping longer hours. The evenings have a party feel to them and you can hear bands and music almost every night. When you run into friends, the conversation inevitably turns to where are you going in ferie, or on vacation. Everyone seems to be heading off for weeks at the beach. Signs are taped to store windows proclaiming the happy fact that people are off enjoying their August holidays. And for those of us who are staying behind, well…the supermarket has added Sunday hours through August for some extra excitement. If you are one of the many Tuscans who can’t take a whole week off, day trips to the beach are the thing to do to beat the stifling heat of the day. With the coast only two hours a way, people will pack up in the morning and be back by cena. My neighbor, Marinella, does this at least once a week.
Since I have had three months of “vacation,” and have just started to get a little work, I have felt no envy about all my new friends and neighbors enjoying themselves at the beach. I’ve been getting plenty of sun at the park with the kids, even if we are always drenched in sweat after the heat of the day melts us.
But yesterday, the fates conspired to give me a real outing to the beach. Bonnie has been trying to rent a car since her kids are all out school for a few weeks. All of the big rental companies in Chiusi either didn’t have anything big enough for her gang of seven, or they wanted a ridiculous amount of money. I put her in touch with a local guy who picked me up in Rome when I first arrived. He has a little car rental agency in the next town over. One email and one phone call later and Bonnie was enthroned in a Ford somethingorother and inviting me along for a celebratory trip to the beach. My student had cancelled his English lesson for the morning, so I gladly joined the big beach excursion. Well, really it was a trip to the beach at Lago Trasimeno, which is only twenty minutes away, but I grabbed towel and swimsuit and got ready for a day of fun and chaos with the tribe.
I’ve been to Lago Trasimeno a few times. It’s peaceful, beautiful, and does boast a nice sandy beach. It wasn’t crowded, but there were plenty of beachgoers of all shapes and sizes lying in the grass which was shaded, or frolicking in the three feet of water. The lake is only about 15 feet deep at its deepest point so the water temperature is not exactly what you’d call refreshing. More like a tepid bath. I kept wading farther out, waiting for that moment where you hit the icy cool water, but sadly it never came. On the plus side, it was perfect for the kids, who could go far from shore and still touch.
The day was filled with sandcastles, swimming, peanut butter sandwiches, and mosquitoes. Not sure if it’s because the lake is so shallow or because we haven’t had any rain in a while, but the zanzare were out in abundance. It was a delightful afternoon even with the bugs, and Bonnie and the kids are heading back today, now fully prepared with more sunscreen and bug spray! As for me, I have to work. English lessons in the morning and babysitting in the afternoon. Hooray!