Monday, March 19, 2012

Recco Part Two: Basking Amidst Beauty

As I mentioned in my blog post last Tuesday I was fortunate enough to get to spend several days on the beaches of Recco this summer. After an initial day that was filled with rain and produced some quite dramatic photographs, I went to bed hoping for sunshine and an authentic taste of Italian beach culture in the morning.

When I awoke the next day my prayers had been answered. The sun shone brightly, people wandered about wearing shorts and dresses in the streets below my hotel and there was not a cloud in the sky. After eating a very relaxing breakfast on my hotel’s terrace, I changed into my bikini and a sundress and set off for the closest beach, which was located only a few steps away from the Hotel Elena. Once again the hotel’s receptionist proved to be helpful and gave me the advice not to pay the twenty Euros that it costs to visit one of the tourist beaches but instead to bring a towel and set myself up beside them for free. She also offered me a massive beach umbrella, which she said that the hotel would normally charge for but that because I was staying multiple nights she would allow me to have at no cost.

When I arrived at the beach, the atmosphere was very laid back. It was still fairly early in the morning and there were only a few locals sprawled out on their towels, basking in the sun. I put my towel down on the rocks and lathered myself in sunscreen because I am insanely pale and always manage to get myself burnt if I spend more than several hours outside. Although the rain had stopped, the current was strong and the red caution flags that I had first noticed on the previous afternoon still warned potential swimmers that the water was far too dangerous to frolic in. I am a very strong swimmer and in my youth even competed at a high level so I decided to try and wade out to see what the water was really like for myself. Almost immediately I discovered that swimming was going to be impossible as the current pulled me out into the ocean and I struggled to make it back onto land. When the Italians say that the water is dangerous, they really aren’t exaggerating!

After my escape from the abnormally strong waters, I elected to follow the example set by the locals and attempted to cultivate one of those beautiful golden brown Italian tans that many of them sport. Almost as soon as I had assumed my relaxation position, a tall man was standing in front of me, blocking the sunlight. He had with him a massive collection of handbags and spoke with an accent. “Ciao bella, la borsa!” he exclaimed, which made me laugh because I couldn’t imagine who would want to buy a designer knock-off purse while attempting to sunbathe. The whole thing was a little bit strange but I never felt threatened and once it became clear that I wasn’t interested in anything that he was peddling, he moved along.

After lying out there for a few hours and eating several popsicles and a hotdog, I decided to go for a walk and explore the coast in the daylight. As I made my way up the hill towards the cliffs that I had seen on the previous night, I noticed something very funny and amazing. Nestled amongst the rocks was a small bar that was serving alcoholic beverages. It was a beautiful setting and I’m sure that it gets a lot of business, but I also couldn’t help but think about how extremely dangerous it was. Considering that there were no barriers and one could simply wander off the cliff and onto the jagged rocks below if they were not careful, I definitely don’t think that I would choose it as a drinking destination. Still, there were many locals out on the high rocks, with the waves crashing below them, baking in the sun and laughing with their friends.

After marvelling at the Italians and their easygoing attitude, I found my way onto a little rock beach where many people had congregated. This was definitely no tourist destination and the only language that I could hear around me was Italian. While most people applied sunscreen and worked on their tans, a few were sitting out on the large rocks, with their feet dangling in the water, I decided to join then. Almost immediately when I sat down, a friendly local struck up a conversation. She was retired and had chosen to live in Recco because it was lovely place that was close to her family in Milan. When I asked her about the weather and horrible water conditions, she replied that it was extremely abnormal not to be able to swim in the water and that usually many people swim far out onto rocks that are located off shore. It was a real shame and I absolutely longed to have an experience like that. Still, the crashing waves, that splashed cooling water onto my body every few minutes, were refreshing and I had a wonderful day.

Overall Recco is a brilliant place to have a vacation but just keep in mind that it can be a bit of a rip-off if you go to the more touristy places. My recommendation is to explore the area a little bit before picking your final sunbathing spot and to ask the locals about their favourite beaches if you are in doubt. Hopefully I will get to visit the area again in the near future, when the weather is a little bit better and I am able to swim in the water.

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