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takin' care of (sardinian) business
by Jill Terry

In a culture where "9 to 5" is more likely to be a sports score than the hours of a workday, Sardinians observe an interesting ritual every afternoon.

They go to the beach for a few hours.

I was dining with a group of volunteers and friends a couple of months ago, and struck up a conversation with Alberto Cara, recently arrived from Sardinia, where he was a self-employed business owner. Now living in Oakland, he spoke about his pre-American lifestyle, to the awe and amusement of the table's guests. I took some notes as he recounted a typical day when he lived in Sardinia.

(All times approximate and subject to change according to weather, time of year, and amount of available espresso.)

8:00 A.M. Wake up. Make some espresso and consume it as soon as possible. Choose the day's attire with great care (there are several women in the office), pondering the selection of suit, socks, tie and shoes until exactly the right combination is achieved. "Because I was single," Alberto admits, "sometimes I might have to iron something quickly before I put it on." Needless to say, nothing you wore the day before would be suitable (the women would be sure to notice).

9:00 A.M. Head to the local espresso bar for an espresso and pastry (caff� e pasta). Socialize with the other patrons, all of whom you already know.

9:30 A.M. Hop on scooter and go to office. Spend time catching up on what's happened in the 15 hours or so since you last saw your office mates. "What did you do last night?" is the most frequently asked question.

10:00 A.M. Start meeting with clients.

10:30 A.M. Break time. Time for (you guessed it) more espresso.

11:00 A.M. Back to work. Meet with clients and get some work done � whatever might be necessary.

12:30 A.M. During March through November, this is the time of day to set off for the beach (weather permitting). Alberto's favorite is Poeto Beach, a mere three-mile drive from his office.

Most businesses in Sardinia (especially in the south) close between 1:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. Single folks flock to the beaches while married people with families tend to go home for a good meal and a nap.

Have a light salad, some ice cream, and, of course, espresso.

The assortment of people playing volleyball, swimming, or kicking around a soccer ball varies as widely as Sardinia's economy itself. From Alberto's description, it's a demographic petri dish � everything from clerks to lawyers to salesmen. Retired people, many of whom spend the day seaside, populate the crowd, too, though they're usually more involved in card games than volleyball.

Guys take note: most of the female sunbathers are not only clad in thongs but are topless. "We make comments to them and even make Top Ten Lists among ourselves," Alberto says.

"Sardinians have a strong attachment to the sea," he continues, growing more serious. "Because we must cross the Mediterranean to leave Sardinia, the water is important to us. This love of the sea is behind our 'beach philosophy.' We go to the beach to relax and have fun but there is a deeper connection."

3:30 P.M. With great reluctance, leave the beach to return to the office. Shower at the office.

4:30 P.M. Time for more espresso.

5:00 P.M. See clients. Work, sometimes until 9:30 P.M.

see also...
*Direct from Sardinia
*Takin' care of business
*Extreme Sardinia
*Wind & ice cream
*Sardinia quiz
*A Sard Feast
*Sardinia region
*Travel Forum
9:30 P.M. Go home to shower and change into more casual clothing. Dine in or more often, visit one of several favorite restaurants.

10:00 P.M. Eat dinner, sometimes alone, sometimes with a lady friend, sometimes with friends.

11:00 P.M. Hit the clubs. Run into people you know and people who know people you know. Exchange gossip, dance, drink a bit.

1:30 P.M. Go home to sleep and begin again the next day.

Nice work if you can get it. And you can get it in Sardinia.


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