Generations of Italians visit the Tuscan seaside resort of Punta Ala year after year
ALINA SELYUKH, HOST:
For Italians, the August summer holiday often means a trip to the sea. And with nearly 5,000 miles of coastline in their own country, there are plenty of places they can go. Adam Raney travelled to Punta Ala on the Tuscan coast where families visit year after year, generation after generation.
(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINE WHIRRING)
ADAM RANEY, BYLINE: The day begins for many in Punta Ala, a dazzling upscale seaside resort, not on the beach, but at the Siciliana, a pastry shop on the ground floor of a 1960s-era drab apartment block. The espresso is strong, but it's the pastries - Sicilian classics like ricotta-stuffed cannoli - that draw regulars, heard ordering here, year after year.
EMILY MANGOZZA: (Speaking Italian).
RANEY: On the terrace, Emily Mangozza (ph) is feeding her 10-month-old son, Eduardo (ph), a cornetto, an Italian croissant. It's the first trip of many here for her son, who she hopes will be filled with a love of sport and nature.
MANGOZZA: They have, like, sailing school. They do horse riding. So it would be lovely for him to pass his summers here.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Italian).
RANEY: A 10-minute walk down the hill - the Tyrrhenian Sea, a branch of the Mediterranean. A dozen kids are carrying small boats together down to the shore for their daily sailing class.
(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)
RANEY: Nearby, a young boy, Francesco (ph), takes swim lessons in the shallow sea that's as transparent as a pool. His coach, Manuel Ciurli (ph) - toned, tanned and popular with many moms - corrects his strokes.
MANUEL CIURLI: (Speaking Italian).
FRANCESCO: (Speaking Italian).
RANEY: Ciurli, a former Italian backstroke champion, runs the only swimming school here, complete with lap lanes bobbing the waves.
CIURLI: (Through interpreter) It's always touching to see children change over time, getting big and coming back. It means that you have passed something meaningful on to them. And who knows? Maybe even some of the children will become competitive swimmers.
RANEY: In Punta Ala, children are often left to run free, bouncing between the waves and the shade of the pine trees. Christian Bartelli (ph) spends hours on the soccer field with kids he's known all his life.
CHRISTIAN BARTELLI: (Through interpreter) It's great because you get to see again all the friends you haven't seen over the past year.
RANEY: Laying on the beach, time slips by - countless sandcastles built, destroyed and washed away. Sometimes lunch hour arrives and the sun has sapped your energy to walk to the many restaurants along the Lido. That's when Attilio Annone (ph), driving his golf cart packed with fruit, is a welcome sight.
ATTILIO ANNONE: (Speaking Italian).
RANEY: He's explaining the perfect color of the cantaloupe, slicing it and rattling off all the other fruit he has today. Attilio is from Naples, but every summer of the past 14 years...
ANNONE: (Speaking Italian).
RANEY: ...He's been here selling melons, peaches, even exotic tropical fruit. He makes a little extra, too, selling mozzarella from his connection back home near Naples. Attilio is quick to say what he loves about this place.
ANNONE: (Through interpreter) Punta Ala - it's like family here. We all know each other.
RANEY: Under a tall pine tree, another reunion spot - Filipino domestic workers who travel with their employers from places like Rome, Milan and other cities meet up twice a week for conversation, cards and a potluck.
JUANITO ALTIBONO: (Speaking Italian).
RANEY: That's Juanito Altibono (ph). He says these gatherings are important because it gives old friends the chance to reunite. He considers Filipinos he's met in Italy like brothers.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (Speaking Italian).
ILARIA PONTI: (Speaking Italian).
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (Speaking Italian).
RANEY: With the sun going down, Ilaria Ponti (ph), a mother of two, is being tackled and tickled by her giggling daughters.
PONTI: (Through interpreter) I know so many people here. My friends, with whom I grew up, now have children, and our children play together just like we did. It's really beautiful to see that. And, of course, you eat well. In Tuscany, you have it all.
RANEY: In years to come, her children might find themselves on the same beach, telling the same stories to their own children about the joys of their endless summers here.
For NPR News, I'm Adam Raney in Punta Ala on Italy's Tuscan coast. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.