The mind conjures up any number of views or remembrances when you read the words coastal city. I have always had an affinity for coastal places,towns,seaside villages,harbors and especially Island harbor towns.
Some of the most beautiful settings Paula and I have had the good fortune to visit have been seaside towns built on the steep hillsides overlooking the harbors and beaches.My children were raised for 10 to 15 years in the coastal cities of Santa Barbara and Carpinteria California, never more than a pleasant walk to the Ocean the beaches had free and easy access.
California ,despite its large population density in the south has always been good about not restricting the publics ability to visit the beach front by allowing right of ways,parks,state parks and beach access routes.
Private property fronts the Pacific but no one person owns the sea and low tide provides everyone the ability to cruise on foot and bicycle for miles. I often rode the 12 miles from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara on particularly low tides just to experience the freedom of blasting along the shore with nothing but shore birds for traffic.
States like Florida and Hawaii could take a lesson from California when it comes to letting their citizenry and tourists stroll freely on the beach.We can’t all afford or even want a home on the sea, but its sure nice to walk with a friend,with your thoughts,with your dog or zip along on your beach cruiser and enjoy the day without stopping short at a private property sign or worse, a fence!
I think I know how the early cowboys must have felt and can’t ever know how the plains Indians must have regarded the fenced off immensity of the grasslands. It feels more wrong to fence the seaside.
I walked the shore this morning as has become my routine. A lovely quiet early morning stroll along the beach in the Italian Riviera town of Allasio. The beach is about 300′ from my second floor balcony and when I inevitably wake in the early morning hours I like to open the doors to take in the sounds of the sea in those quiet hours and drift back to sleep.
As I walked along the water this morning I pondered the difference in the beaches here versus those that I walked last summer in Greece. Italy is more like Florida and Greece more like California. Here in this area of Italy as in many other Italian beach communities its wall to wall Hotels ,restaurants and they all seem to have the same style change huts, umbrellas and lounge chairs. A fee is charged for the use of the beach facilities but you can walk the beach front freely.
In Greece such places exist but they are mostly for Hotel tourists and shy folks who don’t want to change behind a towel or no towel.Greece has miles of free beaches and you will see cars ,trucks,boats,horses,skooters,sail boards,kites and people of every description dressed in everything from suits to nothing at all. The attitudes are more free. Enjoy yourself but don’t be a “Malaka” is the way in Greece.
In Italy its more about the money and while I understand the need to make money when your season comes around, I find the beach chairs lined up to the waters edge just a bit too much for me this morning.
An old man I have seen almost every day is grooming his little section of beach . His rake slips through the sand as he finishes the pattern between the chairs and terminates at the waters edge. An Italian beach version of a Japanese garden but he has left me no choice but to walk on his art. My shoes are laced up and so I tread on his finished work.His eyes flash a little and he thinks about something to say but won’t or can’t say it in the English he knows I speak.
I’ll walk there tomorrow again. He may be prepared with some English. I’ll wear my sandals and walk in the water but just in case I have been practicing to say, ” E la spiaggia di dio, parla con lui ”
Its God’s beach, talk with him.