Rogue Carver on the Loose in Italy
Part 3, A Stroll Along the Prom in Viareggio
Having settled into my comfortable lodgings at Da Pia Bed and Breakfast over in nearby Pietrasanta, and having explored the immediate vicinity on foot, the time came for me to rent a car and explore further afield, and so I hopped on a train and made the short journey over to the port of Viareggio in order to pick up a rental car. However, my timing was such that, this being Italy, the office was closed and would not reopen until three in the afternoon, which meant I found myself with a couple of hours to (as we tend to blithely put it) kill. And so, with no particular plan in mind, I found myself drawn towards the harbor, beckoned more than anything by the strange sight of a forests towering over the cluster of buildings tucked around an entrance. To my surprise however I soon discovered a canal running at a ninety degree angle to the beach, spanned by a tall bridge which I duly crossed, took a sharp right, and headed out towards a harbor packed to the gills with small to medium-sized craft of every description; old, new, mint and patched condition, but as I made my way towards the lighthouse located at the end of the pier, a whole other world immediately seeped into view: yachts… huge, ginormous, gargantuan yachts. Actually I’m not even sure if ‘yachts’ presents an adequate description, these things were more the size of ferries, gunships… battleships, but clearly, by the absence of any commercial inscription on their massive hulls, these monsters were held in private hands, and clustered together in such numbers they made for an astonishing sight, if somewhat disturbing, sight.
On further inspection it was clear that these multi-million dollar pleasure craft were moored here, in this distinctly working class port, purely on business. The Refit biz. And by the look of things it would seem to be a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Clearly this was a far more interesting world to examine and so, retracing my steps, I re-crossed the bridge and joined the throng. The strolling mass of people were not surprisingly comprised of locals, one hundred percent locals from what I could gather given the casual familiarity they exhibited towards their surroundings. No one was taking photographs, and no one was paying much attention to much, other than the occasional nod to a passerby. Others were deep in conversation with their strolling partners, others lost in quiet contemplation. It was very a quiet scene.
The black men on the other hand, many of them absorbed in a deep contemplation of their own, seemed lost in their own world. Stupefied into a dazed submission from endless hours, days, weeks, months… perhaps years, of silently peddling their Prada handbags and Nike shoes there wasn’t a hint of the hawking that is usual with such activity, they simply wiled away the hours as the tide of strollers promenaded past them in a slow, never ending procession. Only once during the hour or so I was there did I see anyone give so much as a glimpse to the wares on offer, and even he walked away with his money intact. I have since come to recognize this scene as it is played out in similar manner practically everywhere I’ve traveled in Italy, even in the smallest most remote towns – anywhere tourists are likely to flock, albeit not quite on this scale. Most of them are Nigerian, speak perfect English and are desperate to get themselves into the USA, but on hearing their stories my heart sinks for them. Sure some will no doubt make it, but I get the feeling the closest the vast majority will come is via a Hollywood movie.
As I strolled further down the long pier the scene took a dramatic shift – listless looking black men were replaced by listless looking white fishermen. No fish however, just fishermen, I never spied a single fish in a single bucket, but from what I could gather that seemed almost beside the point. I later realized that the fish they were actually fishing for were sardines. People were snoozing, men were casting, floats bobbed and no one seemed for the time being at least, had a care in the world.
Till next time.