August is for Italy; to be precise, it is for Forte dei Marmi, a lovely beach town in Tuscany that we have gone to for years, after Jamie learned about it on a marble-buying trip.
The Forte you see depends on where you go and where you look. Ours is the sleep late and laze at the beach all day Forte as opposed to the drink and dance all night at the clubs and miss the next day Forte.
We are creatures of happy habit and have always stayed at the same hotel – Hotel Augustus, Viale Morin, 169 – and done the same thing the same way. We rise at about 9 am and wander downstairs to the garden dining room for breakfast – small Italian eggs, soft-boiled with rich, creamy, saffron-colored yolks sopped up with crispy whole grain toast and washed down with foamy, creamy, caffe latte. Sitting in the pale yellow sunshine, it appears that no day could begin any better.
We spend the day on lounges in our rented cabana, reading, chatting, snacking on fresh fruit and Pellegrino, and dozing until the inevitable telephone calls from Jamie’s office begin. After a light lunch of pizza and salad we walk to the pier and back. By then the sun has begun its descent and it is time to shower and change for dinner, a little shopping, and passeggiata, the uniquely Italian custom of walking around and looking at each other’s sartorial presentation.
We dress carefully – Italians don’t wear sneakers or fanny packs, not even on their holidays – and walk the mile into town. Sometimes it’s a slim linen dress and heels for dinner at Trattoria Gatto Nero and sometimes it’s a floaty cotton skirt and flats for pizza Margherita at Al Bocconcino. Afterward it is always gelato from Caffe Principe and a couple of laps around the entire town looking at everyone else looking at us as we work our way to the newsstand for copies of British magazines.
The nights are sultry and the salty tang of the sea floats in on the gentle ocean breeze, combining with the potpourri of aromas from the restaurants. The shops are open and crowded with festive customers until long past midnight. Snatches of music or laughter burst forth periodically from hotel lobbies and dining rooms as we wander past, hand in hand.
Finally, we turn left at the go cart track and head toward the hotel. The music is cranking up in the clubs and the high-performance cars’ engines are revving as they cruise the streets hoping for a legal parking spot. As we are now in our fifties, those days are behind us. Jamie will talk on the phone to the studio for hours, returning the calls he missed all day due to the time zone difference. I will watch an old black and white movie on the iPad and fall asleep. Tomorrow it will all begin again.