Some years ago, I had a bizarre beach experience on the acres of golden sand that form Viareggio’s golden miles.
As you may remember, I spent time there in a college doing an intensive Italian course and would study my socks off in the morning alongside ace class-mate Tony Edwards (Deep Purple’s manager) and other European students, then enjoyed cycling through the aromatic pine wood to the beach.
It was sweltering early August and I travelled light in bikini and shorts.
Once arrived, a cold drink at the beach bar before finding a lounger and parasol was a small joy.
This became a very pleasant daily routine where I’d listen to my favourite sounds – Al Green and John Waite – while lying beneath a giant striped umbrella.
Picture this: Intense heat warmed my skin with clear blue skies above; people darted in and out of the limpid sea; a quick swim followed by the sensual experience of being semi asleep as water droplets evaporated off my skin.
I closed my eyes and then reopened them sleepily to see the people had vanished and the sea was empty!
A few screams here and there! What on earth was going on? Was Jaws having an Italian moment I wondered but then turned to see an ominous black sky encroaching. I puzzled why this would cause people to scream until I saw the object of such terror...
A tornado was moving swiftly and shamelessly across the waters towards the beach. It swaggered on without a care in the world so that I too became a bundle of anxiety running frantically away from the beach.
I figured screaming wouldn’t halt the terrible twister so managed to refrain. Hopping on to my bike and aiming to make good my escape,
I raced back through the pine forest donned in bikini with water strapped on. I soon realised, however, that it had gone as quickly as it came whirring proudly out to sea.
Back to the beach I went so that in a flash, life resumed as if nothing had occurred. One of life’s stranger moments.