On every beach I’ve ever been to in the United States and Italy, there are always people peddling their wares – T-shirts, beach towels, inflatable toys for kids, sarongs and cover-ups, doughnuts and treats, and occasionally beaded or handmade jewelry. Here in Ischia I’ve even gotten to know a few of the regular salesmen, one of whom recently gave me a bracelet as a gift. Other than the jewelry, the items they are selling on the beach make perfect sense. You might need a beach towel when you’re on the beach, after all. And who hasn’t wished she had a cover-up post swim?
Last week, however, I witnessed a sale I had never seen before on the beach – socks. If you even wear socks to the beach, it is the first item you take off as you hit the sand. It’s usually so hot that you wouldn’t want anything to come between your toes and the ocean, and the sand just gets stuck to it. Yet, there are full-fledged, well-connected salespeople hocking socks on the beaches of Ischia. In fact, my husband only buys his socks for work on the beach because these guys can get him socks in this superfine material that he says helps his feet breathe in the heat.
The sale wasn’t even a simple exchange. The Neapolitan salesperson, who was carrying a duffel bag full of socks and shirts to sell, used his cell phone to call another salesman at a nearby beach to pick up merchandise from him to satisfy my husband, who only wanted socks made of this particular lightweight material. He returned 20 minutes later to make the sale. And we came home from the beach with a bucket full of sea glass, sand stuck to our being, and six pairs of men’s dress socks. Only in Ischia, folks, only in Ischia.