Cries of “Cocco bello, cocco fresco” carry intermittently throughout the seashore as a coconut vendor slaloms between rows of bronzed Neapolitans outstretched on sunbeds underneath a collage of colored umbrellas.
I’m doing because the locals do within the fishing city of Santa Maria di Castellabate, two hours south of Naples. That’s, I’m sunbathing cheek by jowl on a seashore, the place telephone calls, household arguments and candy nothings are carried out publicly. For Italians, this vociferous environment is all a part of the attraction of the seaside.
Italy map
Unpretentious Santa Maria city sits astride large, sandy seashores on the foot of the mountainous Cilento nationwide park. The city is the newer counterpart to the extra engaging Norman fortress city of Castellabate – a Unesco web site and the backdrop for Benvenuti al Sud, a vastly in style comedy movie that revels within the beneficiant southern-Italian spirit.
The seaside Santa Maria, nonetheless, is the popular place to vacation for a lot of Neapolitan prolonged households, who squeeze into rented flats or second properties owned by a number of units of cousins on weekends in July and over the two-week vacation in August when a lot of Italy shuts down. Every household vacation is performed out in a routine that has been perfected over generations, and one which I – since dwelling in Naples for a number of years – have been desperate to embrace.

The seashore at Santa Maria di Castellabate. {Photograph}: Alamy
On the seashore, the neatly organized rows of sunbeds dictate a social hierarchy, the place the punters’ wealth is ostensibly mirrored in how shut they’re to the seashore. Nevertheless, within the sea the social-economic divides dissolve. Wallowing at waist top within the water, I discover myself embroiled in a energetic debate evaluating the standard of this season’s water with earlier years earlier than the dialog strikes on to recipes after which lunch.
Rosaria Esposito, who lives in my neighbourhood in Naples and is in Santa Maria together with her household, remembers the great previous days: “Our moms used to prepare dinner large dishes of o’ruot o’furn and puparuole ’mbuttunate [Neapolitan dialect for baked pasta and stuffed peppers] and the entire household would sit round a fold-out desk laid out on the sand for a full multi-course lunch.” She additionally remembers how subsequent to the showers on the lido, ceramic sinks had been supplied to scrub the plates and cutlery so all the things may very well be taken residence clear.

Holidaymaker on a bench by the seafront. {Photograph}: Sophia Seymour
Today, lunch is picked up on the salumeria on the excessive road earlier than heading all the way down to the seashore. The couple on the sunbeds subsequent to me are opening panini full of nutty mortadella and a tupperware of peeled figs.
“I like the scent of freshly utilized suncream and sandwiches,” says Amedeo Colella, a well known Neapolitan meals creator and comedian who has been coming right here since he was a toddler. He loves with the ability to slip instantly into the every day seashore routine. “It means we don’t should assume, we are able to simply chill out,” he says.

Within the sea … at Santa Maria di Castellabate. {Photograph}: Sophia Seymour
After lunch, he and his spouse will probably be heading residence for his or her afternoon relaxation, nick-named la controra – the counter hour in native dialect. They count on to should get up their two teenage daughters, who will nonetheless be in mattress following an evening out on the town with their summer season friends. “At this charge, we’d as effectively simply guide a spot for 2 and we are able to rotate beds,” Colella says half-jokingly, referencing an area city legend implying that huge Neapolitan households just do that.
Because the early afternoon approaches, the seashore empties of households and a sprinkling of youngsters are left taking part in playing cards and consuming lemonada ice granitas on the lido bar. I be a part of them, hot-footing it throughout the scorching sand to Le Bagnanti behind my row of sunbeds. Solely a handful of tables are laid out on the whitewashed decking that overlooks the seashore. There are a few conventional dishes chalked on a blackboard by the until – spaghetti alle vongole and impepata di cozze (spicy mussel soup), which I uncover pairs completely with fiano, a lightweight white wine produced in close by Paestum.

Ice-cream kiosk on the seashore. {Photograph}: Sophia Seymour
“I like preserving issues easy but in addition celebrating the abundance of this space,” says Alfonso Ferruzo, the younger native proprietor. He insists – similar to the native characters within the movie Benvenuti al Sud – that I strive his selfmade limoncello … and I’m quickly eager for my very own afternoon controra.
After the post-beach nap, there’s the ritual of getting spruced up for the night festivities. The evening usually begins with dinner at residence with the entire household and ends with hours spent strolling the corso by means of Santa Maria till the small hours of the morning.
The youthful era hoping to flee their households eat at Pizzeria Le Gatte or the low-key trattoria L’Arcata, each in a stone arcade fronting the marina. However I head out to Da Carmine within the close by village of Ogliastro Marina, which was emphatically beneficial by two of my sunbed neighbours on the seashore.

View of the ocean from woods at Ogliastro Marina. {Photograph}: Giuseppe Masci/Alamy
Carmine (Verrone), the late proprietor of the restaurant, got here from humble beginnings. He was a fisherman by commerce earlier than his prospects satisfied him to observe his ardour for cooking. Due to the household’s data of the ocean and its contents, the restaurant has garnered a palpable fame, one Carmine’s 4 sons are zealously dedicated to persevering with.
“In July and August the Bay of Naples is teeming with anchovies,” says Mario, one of many sons now operating issues. “Right here they arrive fried, breaded and stuffed – as a starter, primary and aspect.” I’m unable to withstand ordering the entire above, whereas {couples} at close by tables order bowls of linguine alla pescatora, peppered with cockles straight out of the huge tanks on the entrance to the restaurant.

Chef Giuseppe Verrone, left, and two of Carmine Verrone’s different sons, Mario, centre, and Armando, proper, at Da Carmine restaurant. {Photograph}: Sophia Seymour
Again in Santa Maria, it’s practically midnight and kids are chasing their mates concerning the piazza with no bedtime in sight. A Pulcinella puppet present is about to start and teams of youngsters are dressed up in tight vests and scorching pants. A number of the younger boys peacock for the ladies sitting on a bench underneath a row of palm timber. I stumble upon the Colellas, who provide me an ice-cream on the award-winning Gelateria I Golosi. I’m full to the brim on anchovies however after a day spent sunbathing on the seashore in such shut proximity, I’m now accustomed to the refreshingly open-hearted and beneficiant modus operandi of the native holidaymakers, so it will appear impolite to refuse.
• In Santa Maria di Castellabate, Resort Paradiso Residence has rooms from €80 an evening. Within the close by village of Ogliastro Marina, Da Carmine has rooms from €60 an evening in excessive season
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