It is interesting how quickly something becomes traditional. I have been in Nardo for three nights and I am already very much sucked in to the six o’clock old man club that meet in the Piazza Antonio Salandre  in the centre of Nardo.


On the Piazza is Gambrinus’s bar, restorante and gelateria, which is a semi focal point, but there is also an ‘Ass.Naz. Combattenti a Reduci’, and gaff that appears to do politics too. It’s all about sitting about, or standing in the square in fact.

Old men all over the world in hot climates are doing the same. They converge on different modes of transport. Old cars, old bikes, old scooters are all well represented in the fleet. Many walk too. On arrival various sub groups develop with occasional singular deployments between groups. The debates are serious, earnest, and humorous. They talk so much every night, they must be thoroughly excellent debate merchants. Or are they all just talking rubbish? Who knows.

I wonder when this tradition started. Over a hundred years ago I’m sure. I wonder at what age does one think, ‘I really wanna make a go of this Palazzo thing, and go most nights’. Most men are of pension age, but there are some in their fifties and even late forties. They are few. No women are involved.  The style is excellent.

Old man style in hot countries is excellent, especially in Italy.

The best thing is their old leather sandals. The simple crossed two piece leather arrangements. What is key is that none are new. They are all old, just like the feet that wear them. No Havaianas or Crocs pollute this ancient vista.

The smart men wear loafers and slacks and short sleeve shirts, but many wear vests, jewellery and short shorts. I’m very interested in this particular look. It’s a closed shop, so I don’t get to discuss it with anyone. I wonder if my old man would have been allowed to join in if I’d brought him here before he lost his mind to Alzheimer’s. I don’t know, but I like to think he’d have been involved in some way or other, probably at the bar end of the square. Bless Don. He had the Sandals. Maybe that is the membership token required.

Church bells strike every quarter, not just from one church, but from several. At 8, the old men all start to leave. The gradual dispersal is a sight to see - talk about taking things easy. They probably go home and ignore their wives. Or rump them silly. Who knows, but I can't wait to join the club.

Stubbs out.