Oh how I wish I had a fabulous excuse for my long silence here. Something like traveling all over Italy, attending loads of local markets, or spending the days lounging by the Mediterranean (side note: we're actually on the Tyrrenhian Sea, but that's so much less interesting to type). Instead, I've been dieting. My first ever and extremely difficult. For a few days there, all I could think about was food. Have you ever watched the show Survivor? Invariably, each season, the players start talking about food, in detail. That's what I was like. I imagined sitting down with a bag of chips, pictured drinking a nice, cold glass of white wine, dreamed of eating the chocolate bar sitting on our hutch. Then I pictured the beaches here in Italy, full of women in bikinis. Now admittedly, Italian women here in the south are not as fit as what I think Americans imagine - the svelte beauty, limbs toned. But that's the media for you. Instead, Italian women aren't obsessed with covering up their body flaws - or maybe in this culture, extra pounds and stomachs curling over the tops of pants aren't considered flaws. I don't really know. Bikinis reign here, regardless of age or size. The nonnas (grandmothers) do put on full coverage bikinis, but that's about the extent of their concern.
I went to the beach last week, my first time this summer. This is a crying shame since we literally live one block from the beach, including a free beach and three pay beaches. I believe I've mentioned the beach culture before, but just to clarify, the beaches are lined with "beach clubs," places who clean the sand, have bathrooms, maybe a cafe or restaurant, and chairs/umbrellas for rent. Entry is somewhere from 3-10euros per person, with extra costs for chairs, umbrellas, and so on. Some clubs have pools, too, which is yet another cost. The pools, I have found out, are very important here because of water pollution. There is a sewage treatment plant about 20 minutes up the coast that routinely dumps sewage into the water. Our location is in a large bay, separated from the coastline by a couple of peninsulas, so my guess is that the water near our house is okay for swimming, given the water current. However, when we go to church on Sunday (our church is located on a huge stretch of beach heading up towards the plant), the beach is filled with families enjoying the day...and not a single person in the water. It's a little eery, actually. We're hoping to do some beach exploring this summer and kicked that off on the Fourth of July. More on our Fourth later, but I hope you all had a lovely holiday and that you ate lots of burgers, chips and brownies, which is what I dreamed of all day long.