I am reminded of Morrisey’s ‘Every Day is Like Sunday’, although I’m not advocating bombs or Armageddon unlike the King of Glum. A quick browse of the lyrics corrects my assumption of stray dogs licking at your hand and face – apparently the proper words are, ‘Trudging back over pebbles and sand/ And a strange dust lands on your hands/ And on your face’. I think I actually prefer my version.
Men fish on the quay all bundled up in jackets in scarves – in our sandals and short sleeves we look out of place, not to mention grimly desperate. Hardy souls plunge and rear through the waves as they leave the safety of the harbour. A couple of fishing boats are moored to the quay and people flock to buy fresh fish from their decks. My sister says it is sad to see all these dead sea creatures caught in the nets – collateral casualties of trawling. I think this style of fishing is outlawed in the UK and NZ (unless you’re Maori).
We head to the old town, which is very old indeed with a triumphal archway from 27BC – a great ancestor of the Arc de Triomphe – piazzas, fountains, statues, castles, churches, campaniles, excavations of Roman streets, and a very old arched bridge. People cycle around the narrow streets and wide open squares of the old town on bright red commuter bikes; there are no vehicles, but you have to dodge out of the way of the approaching bicycles.
Borgo San Giuliano is just over the Tiberius Bridge but it’s like another world. The pastel houses huddle together in shades of yellow, pink, blue and green, hiding behind their shutters and pots of geraniums on the window ledge. Many of the walls are decorated with murals, mainly depicting sea scenes.
The lazy, sleepy atmosphere is broken only by old women in headscarves as they pedal their bikes – baskets laden – back from the market, wheel their shopping trolleys or sweep their yards, calling out ‘Ciao Maria’ to their neighbours, all of whom appear to be called Maria for ease of memory.
Back over the bridge I get trapped in the bustle of the market at Piazza Malatesta where leather goods (vera pelle) and fresh produce are everywhere. I walk around the stalls skirting the cathedral for about an hour looking for comfortable leather sandals (like the ones they sell in NZ, made in Italy, for about $150). There aren’t any – they must export them all.
I suspect the Italians don’t do comfort, eschewing it for pure style. One must suffer pain for fashion it seems. The shoe repair shop in the centre of the old town has window displays of the various stiletto heels that can be re-fixed to your shoes after you have wrecked them among the cobbles and doubtless twisted your ankle.