An empty seaside resort on a cold and blustery day is a solemn sight indeed, even one on the Tuscan coast of Italy. Early spring, the sky was busy being grey and moody and the sun refused to show. Rows of chairs were lined up in pairs looking desperate for attention. Their backs were straight, their position perfect and the fresh coat of paint throbbed white against the dam-brown colour of the sand. A small round table stood between each pair ready to hold the bright orange spritzes so loved in the north of Italy, but such tipples were too gay and too cold to be served on a day like this, no matter how strong the tradition. Umbrellas stood tall and thin, waiting for the sun so they could burst open like flowers. Though the wind tousled the sea only the finest grains of sand were roused; the early rain held the meticulously groomed beach down in even lines that ran to and fro the stormy shore. But even the dreariest seashore attains something close to gaiety when a dog the size of a bread loaf finds its fun there. As if reading my mind but doing something of it, the small brown dog with its open mouth and flapping tongue tore across the empty beach, kicking up sand and making swirls of tiny footprints all over the neatly groomed beach.