We are back in Italy after a 3 month hiatus in the US to obtain my work visa. The Italian is rusty but words keep popping up that I'd forgotten I knew, so all is not lost. Nothing like try to learn a language to stretch brain muscles you never knew you had. Luc and I have spent the last several afternoons at Vicenza's Parco Aquatico. It is baking hot and there is really nothing else to do but hole up inside until it's time to make a beeline for the pool. Thank God there is one! In this case, quite a deluxe public version that makes our beloved local village pool in Ohio look like a neglected and distant aquatic cousin.
The Parco Aquatico has two ginormous twirly slides, a sculplturesque pool with fountains with underwater 'tanning beds' -- places to recline that I can only suppose are meant to increase your tan, a main pool with a huge floaty 'mountain' that kids can climb with ropes or handholds and slide down the front. The pool is so big there are always two lanes roped off for lap swimming cross the width of it, which is the same as the length of most pools I've been in.
Going to the pool here seems to be a an intergenerational affair as it is populated by people of all ages. The grounds are strewn with reclining chairs, umbrellas, a beach volleyball section, grassy area for pick-up soccer/football, a bar/cafe where you can order anything from lunch to a cocktail or cappucino, little kids play area and a ping pong table.
I was struck today by the number of old folks having long and rousing card games around tables, all of them as brown as nuts from no fear of sun worshipping. Then there are the young couples, their bodies entangled around each other's on the recliners, kids, teenagers, the 30's and 40's set, sans kids, you name it, all seem to be here. I would however be remiss not to add that visiting an Italian pool, or beach no doubt, is not for the faint of heart or overly body conscious. Not that everyone is a size 2 but they seem to wear it well, whatever their size, from flat brown to rounded bellies, all wearing the requisite bikinis, there is an astonishing amount of relative buffness. The surgeon's knife could play a part, but nevertheless one has to appreciate a culture where even much older women refuse to stop wearing bikinis and looking sexy despite skin and bodies that might be slowly losing ground to the battle with gravity.
There are no rest periods where all the kids are cleared out of the pool by the whistle for a 15 minute break but the poor lifeguards must patrol the sides of the pool on foot, strutting their Adonis and Athena-like frames and barking sharp orders when anyone breaks a pool rule. We have already been reprimanded a couple of times, not surprising given we have no real idea what the rules are -- they're certainly not posted anywhere. For Lucas it was for jumping off the side of the floaty mountain rather than sliding down the front, and for me it was for wearing training fins while swimming laps.
"Perche?" I asked.
"Because those are the rules of the pool," the guard answered, not very helpfully, in Italian.
But regardless, each outing is a much needed refreshing experience as the water is always just the right amount of cold in contrast to the intense dry heat of the air. Then we bike the mile home and practice our tightly orchestrated regime to get the bikes through the gate, down the path, get the door unlocked and get inside before being bitten by a thousand tiny mosquitoes that seem to live just in this green, shady corridor and that clearly lie in hungry wait for us. Then we are -- finally - home, safe in our cool top floor cocoon, until the next outing.
actor-writer-director, improviser, mother, traveler, life renegade