Style Files

Summer, Italian Style

Sun, sea and sand: summer memories of growing up in Italy.

During my childhood in Italy, summers consisted of beautiful pink sunsets by the sea, a myriad of blueish waters, from the pale turquoise of our swimming pool, to the richer marine blues at the seaside harbour of Porto Ercole in Tuscany, where we spent the hottest of summer days lounging on my grandfather’s boat.

While in Porto Ercole our routine was made up of lazy days on the boat. We would leave the harbour in the late morning in search for the perfect alcove to drop the anchor and spend all day basking in the sun and swimming to the beach or the rocks. We’d stay out until sunset when the water was warmer and take one last dip before returning to the harbour with the wind blowing in our salty, tousled hair.

"My summer wardrobe was minimal and mainly consisted of colourful parei (sarongs), a vast array of bikinis and one-piece bathing suits, leather sandals and lots of hats."

Whether we were at the seaside, or at home by the pool, the smell of summer was one of sunscreen, fried calamari, spaghetti alle vongole and ripe tomatoes from our vegetable garden. Lunch on the boat was light and simple, we would buy fresh pizza at the local bakery and bags of fruit from the market stalls; juicy peaches, apricots, plums and grapes and any kind of melon we could get our hands on.

At home, my grandfather’s vegetable garden would be exploding with different varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, crunchy salads and the most delicious figs, which we’d invariably be sick of by the time September came around.

At night, if we were on the coast I’d slip on a summer dress and walk up and down the port’s promenade, eat dinner with my family at one of the countless fish restaurants and end the evening with a delicious gelato. Back in Rome, we’d usually eat in the garden, feasting on BBQ’d meat or fish accompanied by a huge salad made with our own freshly picked vegetables, followed by a midnight dip in the pool.

My wardrobe was minimal and mainly consisted of colourful parei (sarongs), a vast array of bikinis and one-piece bathing suits, leather sandals and straw hats. With it being so hot in Italy, that’s pretty much all we wore everyday from June to September. And as my eldest daughter Mia pointed out recently, my summer wardrobe hasn’t changed much since then!

One of the best things about spending part of the summer in Rome is that the city empties out during the month of August so going downtown, where traffic and parking are usually a headache, was and still is, one of my favourite activities to do in the evenings. We’d walk from Piazza di Spagna to the Pantheon, stop for a pizza and an ice cream and then continue on to Campo de’ Fiori for a drink where we would chat and people-watch till late. In Italy you can legally drive a ‘motorino’ (scooter) when you turn 14. When I turned 16 I was finally allowed to drive my mother’s red Honda, albeit only in our neighbourhood. Little did she know however, that I drove it all the way into Rome and back to our house in the countryside! It was my first experience of total freedom and I loved it! My girlfriends and I would ride our scooters all around the city, wind in our hair and bright smiles on our faces. Summer vibes, the Italian way!


If a trip to Italy is on the cards, you may want to read my other blog post, How to Dress Like an Italian Woman on Holiday.

Ciao for now,

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