Italian men are peacocks (in the best sense of the word)! Well, not all of them, of course, but most of the men I’ve met here take a serious interest in their appearance, and they like to show their plumage and be admired. Sometimes it makes them behave in ways which, to the New England eye, seem rather strange.
Take for example this fellow. He has chosen for his morning exercise routine the rooftop over the Rapallo Port parking garage. This is located on the busiest road on the peninsula, the road that leads from Rapallo through Santa Margherita and on to Portofino. From morning to late at night there is a steady stream of cars, public transit buses, tourist buses, campers, vans, SUVs – all full of faces peering out at the passing scene. This hale gentleman was engaged in deep knee squats when I first saw him as I walked from Rapallo to nearby San Michele, his arms held horizontally in front of himself like a sleepwalker. And he was good! He did a ton of them while I watched. As I ambled along fishing in my bag for the Trusty Canon he segued to the odd sort of body lift here pictured – legs splayed out in front, arms on the bench behind him, then flex arms, release, flex, release – I’m sure it’s very difficult.
My business at the Post Office in San Michele didn’t take long, but it must have been 25 minutes before I got back to the Rapallo port, and Charles Atlas was still at it, jumping rope now, his back glistening with sweat. He seemed rather pleased when he caught me with the camera out just after taking this photo.
Try as I might I can’t imagine, say, a New York stock-broker engaging in such exhibitionist behavior on Wall Street, or a Mid-West farmer requisitioning the yard in front of the county court-house for his calisthenics, or a tweedy college professor stripping down to his swim trunks in the Quad.
But isn’t it wonderful? What’s the use of having gorgeous feathers, real or imagined, if you don’t show them off to the rest of the world?