In winter the ‘Litorale Domitio’ near Naples is quiet. Perfect for dogs?
In late February we began to hunt for walks for our labrador due to join us in the spring after he’d spent eight months frolicking with family in the leafy parks of Copenhagen.
We fretted for his well-being in the streetwise south.
In a goose-bumping wind on a free weekend we set off on a recce along the neighbouring sands.
The faded signs and empty streets were not inviting. Some roads were marked out with prostitutes and others with stretches of bamboo that clung around the corners. Car parks were open but most of their buildings were closed against the cold – behind them lay the beaches, hidden from view.
We pulled into a parking area with a half-open beach cafe. Our hope was for a coffee and to take a look at the sands beyond.
The flat, rectangular building had wind blowing in one door and out the other. A just-there-for-the-day barista served coffee while outside three girls, immune to the cold, made their way across the view. Signs said no – ‘vietato‘ – to dogs.
Coffee completed we stepped on to the empty sands and into the light.
Ice winds in cold, flat blue, shimmered across the fresh space. It was all ours … apart from an old, rusted white Fiat at the edge of the sea.
As we got closer we could see it was not abandoned or idle. Buckets and nets surrounded it, and a cheerful man, in a wetsuit as un-threaded as his car, prepared himself for the waves. With a grin, and greetings, he pulled on a large camouflage jacket and angled its hood hopefully against the wind. Next he hoisted a large net over his shoulders and stepped into the sea.
Already his companion was at work, raking a similar back-strapped net across the sea floor.
The work looked cold and cramping. We zipped our jackets higher and headed further down the beach.
Beyond there were more fishermen scraping the sea floor for shells. One, tall and with a younger wetsuit, showed us his catch and told us the price he would be paid. It didn’t sound much for such tough work.
A black and white dog trotted towards us – tail high in the wind. If he’d read the signs written with him in mind, he clearly didn’t care. He sniffed at driftwood, eyed us carefully, cocked his leg dramatically against an old post then just blew sideways into the distance.
We moved on. Higher up the coast we found a smart, thatched resort – an exotic point with eastern touches, slowly opening up for spring. It was all deep colours, cushions and dark, wooden floors.
We had a pasta lunch there alongside a couple who had stopped by with their well-dressed dog – clearly a party that had no intention of taking any chances with either the weather or the beach.
A happy extreme – perhaps a sign that Django, with his big paws, big heart and big lack of common sense, would find his spot in the crowd.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2016