John had done some research online and the beaches were mainly run by concessions, which rented out loungers etc for the day, so we set out with just our towels and various things to read. We went through the streets, over the saddle and down to the largest of the beaches, Serapo. The sand was covered by various arrays of parasols, each one flanked by a pair of loungers with a folding chair propped between. We paid at the desk and followed a young man out into the matrix to our spot, half way to the sea. The ranks of beach furniture started off orderly as soldiers on parade, but gradually frayed along the seams as beds were pulled into or out of the shade and chairs were borrowed from other stations. Groups of young folk and large families crowded round each parasol, with all the paraphernalia of a day at the beach.
After letting laying claim to our own space we ventured down to the sea. The beach sloped very gradually, small waves rolled in taking our breath as cold water claimed fresh inches of flesh. It took a while to wade out to a swimmable depth, in my case on tiptoe, but once in the water was glorious. Looking back to shore the beach was dark with bodies as far as the eye could see, the shallow water thronged with paddlers and ball throwers, but out chest deep there were few fellow swimmers. Below us passed shoals of fish, unconcerned by the human invaders. After a while it became chill, so we retired to base and pulled the loungers into the sun to dry off, then it was back to the shade and our books. We repeated the process several times, at one point buying a couple of cold beers from the kiosk. It became clear that the sand had reached scorching point. Teenagers that had been strolling back and forth to the sea were suddenly skipping past at a bouncy trot and mums were jogging uncomfortably carrying their children. We discussed whether or not to venture down for another swim, the wisdom of taking our shoes or just making a dash for it. In the end we lay back down and watched the antics of the family next to us. They were sprawled about the two parasols immediately on the seaward side of us. There were two women, possibly sisters, a tall man, a couple of teenagers girls and three smaller children all taking turns to wear a straw trilby hat. At first it was on the head of the little girl over her plaits, she looked very sweet. All was peace, the adults and teens sunbathing, the three children off with buckets and spades. Then the oldest boy arrived back wearing the hat. His mum erupted from her lounger, gave him a death stare and strode down to the sea barefoot, but oblivious of pain. She came back with a small child squirming on either side, plonked them in the middle of the camp and tore a brief strip off the older lad, who was already in a pre-emptive sulk, before marched back to the shore. She returned with a fistful of spades, full buckets and a watering can, which splashed much their contents as she strode. The children were to stay where she could see them. She lay back down. Dad was dispensed back to the sea to refill the buckets and can. He shambled down with the weary gate of a man, who understood this was now going to be the shape of his afternoon. He wore his flip-flops and the hat. All was peace till the moment when the smallest boy, naturally wearing the hat, stepped a little way away from the loungers, pulled down his trunks and let forth an impressive arch of wee, spattering the sand some distance away. He pulled up his trunks and sat back down happily. The grown ups all looked at one another and set the small girl the task of watering over the top with her can. She sprinkled a dainty pattern round that of her brother. People instinctively avoided the area on their rush to the sea. We finally decide to go for it and prudently passed on the other side, hugging the shade from the next row of parasols and then making a dash for it. I found the worst thing was the hot sand landing on top of my toes and was glad to stand with my feet in the cool water. It did not make wading further in any easier, but the swim was very refreshing. By the time we finished our swim the family were in the throws of packing up and setting off home. We drying off in the ensuing quiet and then made our own way back.
That evening we ate out in the square by the funfair, watching a terrifying ride where youths goaded each other to push flying chairs higher and higher until one of them managed to catch a bunch of streamers hung from a buoy some distance away.There is no Italian phrase for risk assessment..