It takes a lot to be a lifeguard in Viareggio, Italy, as these two gentlemen proved when I was lucky enough to spend a few sunny days there last June. It takes guts, as you can see. It takes fishing nets, and the desire to repair them. It takes a comfortable beach chair, sunscreen (optional), and the ability to roll cigarettes.
That’s not all, though. Because the long, long, long beach of Viareggio is sliced into private little beach clubs (that one pays for and ergo gets many amenities, like a nice chair, umbrella, changing rooms, and F&B service). A lifeguard there is only responsible for the guests of that club, and only when they are in the water in front of that slice.
That means that the lifeguard who does his job swimmingly needs to do some yelling, like,
Go back to your beach slice; you are not a guest of this club;”
Go swim in your own water—you are not my responsibility;”
Get out of the water—the waves are too big,”
even when they are not.
Successful lifeguards, once they’ve scared everyone off their sand and out of their water, can then focus on things like mending fishing nets. Socializing with other lifeguards. Enjoying a hand-delivered panini and San Pellegrino. And, best of all, taking a nice nap in the lounge chair and getting back to work on that tan.
It’s a rough job—rather like the frightfully stormy seas in this picture—but someone’s got to do it. Fortunately for the few and proud, summer lasts only so long in Viareggio, and then these laborers can finally take it easy for several months.
Maybe hang out at the bar. Play some indoor bocce. And of course, go to Momma’s daily for three-hour lunches, before heading back to the bar. Salute’!