What’s the protocol for bathing in the buff? Full frontal – no, the occasional bare breast – yes.
When the time comes for a dip, does one put on a top? – ‘tis really only the nipple and a fraction more that’s covered. Or, can we joyfully jump into the crystal-clear abyss with breasts au natural?
The etiquette for sunbathing naked is a complex one, specifically when it’s a short sojourn within the forays of Western Europe.
Spain? Bosoms out. Portugal? Bosoms covered, thong in tow. Britain? Wetsuit. France? A chic two-piece. Italy? Bosoms, buttocks, even the nether regions can be exhibited.
The Italians have an almost au fait relationship with nudity. Their culture reveres nakedness. Consider, Botticelli’s muses, Michelangelo’s David, Titian’s Venus – the Italian artistic greats have always played tribute to the naked human form.
The expression of the body, whether undressed or dressed, is so ingrained within the Italian culture. And it is on these grounds that the Italians, no matter the age or the size, are completely unafraid of going naked in public.
I came across this on our trip to Sicily. I was exploring the rockpools (a nostalgic pastime for me), when I was suddenly obstructed by the sight of a hairy gentleman lying sedately on his back, legs spread, arms wide, fully naked – the full-frontal treatment.
Now, I have always been a blunt and brazen character, with a streak of mischief and willingness to talk openly about intimate subjects. But, on a tranquil beach in Sicily, exploring the complexities of the smooth-milky rock of Scala dei Turchi, I was astonished to come across a middle age gentleman in the buff. Frankly, I didn’t know where to look.
I’ve dabbled in the occasional streak to the water (beach empty, mind), sunbathed topless and pulled up my bikini bottom so my cheeks can get a bit of sun, but naked? On a packed European beach? No, I can’t say I have.
Yes, the gentleman in question was slightly hidden in the labyrinth of rocks, but this was a popular thoroughfare for kids and others, like me, who were bored at the prospect of lying three hours flat on our back baking in the sun.
But the man in question didn’t bat an eyelid or move a muscle. He was unashamedly naked and didn’t care for whom saw. The confidence was astounding and frankly, I was rather envious – I could never be so unabashedly open with my body.
Nor, was I encouraged to. The beaches of Australia were, unless forewarned, nudity free. Even a man in budgie smugglers was looked upon with raised brows.
But in Italy, the flesh was flowing and to be enjoyed by all. Nobody had any intention of wearing a chic one-piece. Rather, the quest for the ultimate tan required skimpy bikinis, g-strings and itsy-bitsy budgies. Honestly, the men who partook in the budgie trend really could have gone naked – a thin synthetic fabric hides nothing, specifically when soaked after a cooling dip.
I wasn’t bashful or a prude when it came to this confident undressing by the water’s edge. Admittedly, a flaccid willy is not what you want to come across at 3pm on a Thursday afternoon, but had I been forewarned, my reaction may have been different.
The physical form was proudly celebrated and displayed in Scala dei Turchi, and I never felt sexier. There’s something to be said about embracing and showcasing your assets, for it’s when they’re covered up do we feel at our lowest.
The Italians are certainly onto something.