If you are indulging in an aperitivo in one of the old fashioned bars along the Riviera Romagnola, between Rimini and Riccione, you’ll hear some amazing love stories. Most of them reflect the glory of one of the newly revived tourist areas of Italy, where love, fun, lust and sun merge together to create a unique mix of hedonistic sensations. And most of these stories focus on one and one myth only, a point from where every love story begins and ends, a landmark for every Italian man looking for inspiration and advice in the art of courting: the bagnino, the Made-in-Italy lifeguard.
Long before ‘Baywatch’ and its fashionable US’s beaches, Mitch Buchannon’s ancestors started the legend back in the ’60s, when the Riviera was in its heyday as one of the most attractive seaside resorts in Europe.
The bagnino, with his iconic red vest, atop his perch, scouring the waves for potential bathers to rescue, drew the eye of every girl on the beach.
Tanned, and just energetic enough, his parading between beach umbrellas would catch the eye of every young nubile woman seeking romance, and the challenge was on to become his ‘closest friend’.
A real old fashioned bagnino could speak to every female tourist from Sweden to Germany, from Portugal to the US, with almost no knowledge of any other language than his own. So how did he do it? This is where the secret lies, a Made-in-Italy bagnino can speak any language without words, and can transmit meaning through gestures and facial expressions. The whole tone is irresistible and one that bobs around alongside the sound of the sea against the backdrop of seagulls and peddlers.
The main features of a real bagnino are the following:
The Perch – This is the most important feature. From a high position the bagnino can survey the waves (and the curves).
The map – A traditional bagnino is the only one that has the map of the spiaggia - the beach- at his fingertips. He knows which beach umbrellas are booked and who is coming and at what time. Being young and attractive gives you a great advantage when you need an umbrella in a hurry and haven’t booked one.
The key – The bagnino has the keys for the cabina, the traditional beach huts. In Italy and in Romagna every swimmer knows that what happens in cabina stays in cabina.
The catamaran – The moscone is the traditional rowing catamaran used by every bagnino. The ability to balance, row and dominate the waves out in deep water is a perfect opportunity to show off some physical prowess.
Sunglasses – A real bagnino always wears sunglasses. Night or day, and behind which his flirtatious glances can always be hidden.
Now, boys and girls – are you up for the challenge this summer? Girls – will you be the ones to resist the appeal of a bagnino? Or will you swoon into his arms like a singing mermaid?
And boys, are you ready to imitate the moves of a real bagnino or are you giving up already in the knowledge that the iconic Italian bagnino rules the beach?
The challenge is open, and the summer is long. The ring is the beach so are you ready for the competition to begin?