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The location of my apartment was very unfortunate. It was located along one of the streets that cut the town east – west. Even though it was not the main street, the traffic was pretty heavy. It did not bother me during the day, but the late nights and early evenings were particularly difficult to enjoy. In the late evenings, some youngsters trapped in this city drove their scooters just outside my windows. Over and over again. Luckily, the town acknowledged siesta thus between 1:30 pm and 5:30 pm the silence cut all noises. I guess the level of the noise would be easier to deal with if only I did not normally live in a small and very quiet village.
Apart of the traffic the walls and floors of this old house were exceptionally thin. In the night, I had an impression there were people in my room who were talking, laughing, playing cards and, when the booze finished, they were snoring. This was so loud! This was not a surprise then that I often woke up early and went out of the apartment to hanging around a bit in the early morning.
First couple of days I was sleeping better than during the rest of my stay because of being exhausted by the journey and by the heat. Unfortunately, after three days I was struggling with falling asleep every night. I wonder if other travellers and tourists has the same problem.
My favourite moment of every morning was 7:00 am. At 7:00 am the bell from the church rings loudly announcing the day officially has started. And suddenly, every sound rises its volume: the town wakes racily up. The shop around the corner opens its door with a smash, the trash collector throws glass to his car with a sharp noise and the dog starts barking at everything he sees. The bell continues ringing: a melody of Ave Maria announces that the day has started and that everything that happens today will praise the Lord.
After 7:00 am the bars are open and flooded with the residents. All of them needs a modest encouragement to start the day. Coffee is one of their daily treats. A quick check of the lottery raises their blood pressure too. Worst case scenario, a glass of cold beer wakes them up. The town in the early morning with trash vehicle collecting glass and scooters driving around makes a curious impression. The poverty, visible at every corner is mixed with a rush of the residents eager to start working before the heat of the day hits them.
There are dogs with no owners hanging around and the cleaning ladies sweeping the streets. When a vehicle collecting glass takes another load, the people in the bar shout like if their team scored in the game. I am not sure where does their enthusiasm come from.
There is a hairdresser just in front of my temporary house. It opens at 7:30 am with a loud greeting by the owner to passing people and opening the sunblind. The frequent customers start coming. The door is open and a conversation sparkles. A loud greeting, a noise made by hairdryer and the scissors cutting hair is mixed into an everyday melody of this town. All windows and door along the street is open: people try to catch some fresh air before the heat come. The bell rings again. It’s 8:45 am and all should be working by now. The sun will silence everyone after the noon. The heat will be unbearable by then. It warms the walls, stairs, roofs and air so the main effort of all resident will focus on keeping their houses cool. They will close the door and the windows, they will keep drinking cold water and eating fruits. They will not rise their voices and before it’s 1:30 pm all will be silent again.
A small town routine
Everyone has a small garden here. This is the secret method of flourishing despite the odds. We saw hundreds of small gardens outside the town while driving here and there and they are a prove that all depends on water. If a small field is watered the vegetation is as lush as in the tropical garden but if the water is scarce everything is burnt out. The main task here is therefore watering the garden. In the mornings and early afternoons, the local farmers try to sell their fruits and vegetables in small booths along the main road. Sometimes in the town there are door opened and few fruits are being sold there, directly from the farmers. It strings the process of production and consumption to the minimum. From the garden to the table the distance is really short. So green and eco!
People here are nice. We get often questioned about our stay in Fluminimaggiore and almost all locals ask whether we go to the beach today. It was weird at the beginning and I thought we have some beach related objects or dress that would suggest our intention of spending time at the beach. When I heard the same question again I thought there must be a pattern. And there is. The locals are convinced that the beach is the only attraction for tourists and to keep them happy all you need to do is to send them to the beach. Thus, when we declared we have no intention of spending our holiday at the beach they looked at us in a suspicious way. Fortunately, we speak Italian, which always helps.
And so the life goes rather slowly here. It has a certain charm, though, of a tiny place where everybody knows each other. It seems like they all know their limits, which includes even a quantity of bread baked daily. When I go to the bakery after 10:00 am there is very little left. Every day the same people buy the same things and thus a baker has an easy task and does not worry about producing too many focaccia or bread. Also, the other shops offer a scarce number of objects. Shops are closed for a siesta break and some of them do not open in the evenings as people, in most cases, spend it in a pizzeria or in a bar.
The only serious disruption of their habits is feasts and celebrations. It is confusing, though. I am still not sure if a brake of a routine is a long-awaited event or do the local people prefer to stick to their routine. Or maybe rare but regular celebration became sort of routine they appreciate? In any case, Sardinia is a challenge for the tourists. This island will make you following its routine.
There are some places in this world where tourists enjoy a considerable freedom of whether they prefer to follow their own habits or not. In many cases, you are free to eat pizza in Australia, hamburger in Italy and würstel in the US even though it is not recommended. Try to eat pasta in New Zealand and you will know why. Sardinia, on the contrary, will leave you nothing to decide upon. Either you appreciate the Sardinian way of life or you will find yourself in a hell here. And I’m saying it as a great fan of this style and as a follower to this lifestyle to the very last.
I love waking up early to use the freshness of the day, just like I take a nap after a simple lunch even if this is not my habit. I adore staying up late and enjoying local music and feasts and the only thing I find hard to manage is the heat. But all the habits of this island keep me safe and sound with no real issues caused by the heat. Just like the locals, I try to avoid the heat by all means.
Read the next episode soon.