May 24, 2010

Memories Monday: Angeletto

My earliest and best memories are of Santa Marinella - the beach town in Italy where my dad's family has had a house for generations, where we reunite every summer with friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, grandparents, grandchildren, and every other conceivable family member.  In particular, Angeletto, the beach where our family has gone forever.

In fact, my memories of this wonderful place are among the newest - I've only been going since 1985. Our family memories go back even further than my dad and his brothers and sisters, who started going there when they were wee lads and lasses back in the 1940s. My grandmother summered in the same beach town, and even went to the very same beach when she was a little girl in the 1920s (unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of that era, although I really wish I did - from the few pictures I've seen of my grandmother in her youth, she was an adorable child and later stunning woman). So our family has pretty much been unofficially ruling the town since back in the day.

Granted, back when my grandmother was young it was barely a pile of rocks next to the sea. And when my father was a kid it wasn't much better, although someone did have the good sense to set up a little "bar" next to the rock pile to sell refreshments and rent out umbrellas and beach chairs. Still, as you can see, it was still pretty rustic.

 {left to right - my father, Tommaso (with the smirky grin), my grandmother, nonna Valentina, holding baby Cecilia (my dad's youngest sister), my uncles Antonio,  Saverio, and Giovanni (the middle brothers) sitting in front of my grandfather, nonno Cesco, and my aunt, Maria (the eldest) - Angeletto, early 1950s}

{a group photo of the siblings}
{notice how they all match? hehe}

{in order of age, with my grandparents}

Not that it's much better today. In order to have a "sand" beach (which I put in quotes because being a naturally rocky coast, the sand is imported) they had to build a cement wall along the edge, so the beach is pretty much a giant sandbox along the shore, with a little wooden ladder that going into the water. And the sand is black, which looks awesome, but burns the bejesus out of your bare feet. You can recognize an Angeletto veteran by the quick and nimble way he darts from one umbrella shadow to the next.

Looking at it through a stranger's eyes, it's pretty ghettofabulous, especially considering that just a couple of kilometers down the road there's a lovely white sand beach that we could easily go to. But tradition is tradition, and my grandparents never wanted to change beaches, so we indulged them, even after they became too old to actually come. Even now that both of them have passed away, no one would dream of giving up our prime center-beach spot (which we've had reserved every July and August for decades). This is our beach.

And looking at it through the eyes of someone whose happiest childhood memories are inextricably tangled with this place? It's the most wonderful place on earth. I remember when we were really little, and we would splash around in the shallow part, putting crabs in buckets and smashing rocks with other rocks. When we were a little older, we would take out the windsurf board and the canoe paddles, and paddle ourselves out to sea, five kids on a surfboard, all in a row. Sometimes an aunt or uncle would give us a precious five thousand lira note (about $2.50) and feeling rich, we would run up to the bar and buy popsicles for everyone. A little older still, and my dad would take us out on the little rowboat to do some line fishing, so we could fry up our catch for dinner. And finally during our adolescence, it became a nighttime spot as well. A place to sneak away from parental supervision to lie back on beach chairs, drinking the occasional pilfered beer, smoking the occasional weak joint, and spending the night counting infinite shooting stars and making youthful wishes.

But this beach is so much more than just everything I've experienced on it. It's everything I've seen, too. I've seen my baby cousins take their first steps, learn to swim, push their friends underwater for the first time, and grow up from feisty children to bored teenagers. I've seen my older cousins amble slowly through their twenties, and then come back in their thirties with families of their own - with new little baby cousins learning how to swim. This summer I'll get to see brand new little baby Marta taking her first dip in the sea!

I look forward to sticking water wings on my own little ones some day, and teaching them how to swim at this very same beach. But in the mean time, I'll keep coming back in the summer to lounge on the beach chairs, soaking up rays, eating gelato, and spending priceless moments with my ever-growing family, just like I always have.

What are your most precious summer memories?


p.s. You may have noticed that this looks like a new weekly meme, which it sort of is, but I probably won't be doing it every week. I just liked the alliteration of memories monday, and I thought that since I write often enough about my childhood memories, it would be nice to have it be a reoccurring post. If you like the idea, feel free to steal it - along with the logo, if you want - and leave a link in the comments so we can read about your memories. If enough people join in, maybe I'll mclinky this too! But for now let's see how it goes.


JP said...

We used to travel all across the country with our church youth group. Every summer we went on a trip... Out to the Rocky Mountains... to New England... To New York... to California...

I love that I got to see so much of the country that I love and I want to give my kids the same opportunity.

Amanda said...

I love this! My grandparents lived on the beach while I was growing up and it's one of my favorite memories too :)

Lisa said...

Summer memories are the best. :) I am loving all these photos- they are so pretty!