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The Sounds of an Italian Summer

“There is one thing that is constant: the score of sounds and noises that are unique to summer.”

Summer in Italy has arrived. Yes, it is a very strange year, which somewhat follows in the footsteps of the previous two: Coronavirus is still dominant and there’s climate change, the war in Ukraine, and why not, a sparkling election campaign in August. Wandering through the sunny and deserted streets of the city, we are desperately looking for holidays (whether physically or mentally). And yet no matter where in Italy you are or what may be happening in the world, there is one thing that is constant: the score of sounds and noises that are unique to summer. There are moments when I decide to pause the routine recorder, close my eyes and listen, truly listen, to the sounds of summer. And what do I hear?

The waves that timidly arrive at the shore and then quickly crash into the rocks. They follow a cadenced rhythm, a sort of melody that repeats itself over and over again.

The seagulls fly and argue noisily with each other. They glide over the water in search of some fish to grab before the other.

The sirens of the ferries blare loudly to announce that they are leaving the port in the direction of Capri, Ponza or perhaps the Aeolian Islands.

Friends compete in diving. Each has its own comic onomatopoeic noise, which depends on the size of those who fearlessly face the blue expanse.

A storm. Large clouds full of water welcome thunder as big as boulders, and the lightning along the horizon hypnotizes the gaze. Then, after a while, there is the clear sky again.

Watermelon, devoured with voracious bites. When you bite into it, you try to suck away all the juice, but some goes down the sides of your mouth like when you were a child. The seeds are spit out onto the plate with little pings. 

Estathè, drunk with a small straw to make long and singing sips. Then, in order not to miss the last drops, the can is crumpled.

Ice cream is a ritual. Each long or short lick has the task of giving it a composed, indeed manageable, shape. The paper that timidly wraps the final part of the wafer will be as useless and noisy as the papier-mâché.

The scooter. Vroom, vroom. The moment you feel it accelerate, the road below you runs fast and the landscape seems to chase you.

“The sand is hot, hot!”

The mosquito that buzzes in your ear at night. It sneaks up and is ready to give you a bite right there, on your eyelid. You try to push it away, but end up slapping yourself.

Eggplants that slowly fry in boiling oil. The oil grumbles, but without exaggerating. After being breaded in egg and flour, the eggplant must be fried first on one side and then on the other. I think it is a poem that no man of letters will ever be able to render in writing…

Children playing football in the town square. The goal is obviously the main entrance to the Church, upon which they kick a very strong ball. Boom. The parish priest, who acts as referee, whistles.

The chatter of parties on large terraces, illuminated by long festoons of yellow lights, with music and dancing.

The fan blades whirling at three speeds.

The dull footsteps of walking on the harbor walkway to reach one of the docked boats.

The drip, drip, drip of milk that falls from the mozzarella morsels that are placed on the plate, next to round tomato slices that have been cut for an almost geometric caprese.

The lifeguard waving his arms shouting: “You can’t go over the buoys!”

Snoring during a nap after lunch, on a deck chair.

Cicadas in the pine forests. A constant chorus that never gives up. On the contrary, the noise seems to increase with every passing day.

The white sheets of a double bed are spread out by two elderly women, who shake them strongly with large arms. They bring the linens back in after two hours, otherwise they turn yellow.

The water rushing, flowing from the shower as you try to remove all the sand.

The red wine that is poured into a large container in which wedges of percoche (summer peaches) have been placed at the bottom. Glug, glug, the liquid comes out of the bottle and floods the fruit. 

The crackling of wood from a bonfire on the beach on the night of San Lorenzo. 

The tables by the sea. Long and endless, with dishes that change hands. A plate breaks with a loud crash. 

The whoosh of the wind that ruffles the pages of a newspaper while it is being read. 

Whispers and promises, exchanged between new loves, at night by the sea.

Photography by Kurt Bauer