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Italy kitesurfers fly again as lockdown loosens

"I cried when I was on the water, big tears," said the founder of an Italian  kite surfing school when he was allowed back out on the water
"I cried when I was on the water, big tears," said the founder of an Italian kite surfing school when he was allowed back out on the water Andreas SOLARO AFP
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Ladispoli (Italy) (AFP)

Italian kitesurfers shed tears of joy in the salty blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea as they returned to the wind and water after a seemingly interminable coronavirus lockdown.

"After two months, two and a half months, coming out today after the emergency phase was fantastic, just fantastic, we couldn't wait," said Cristian Somma, co-founder of the Tsunami Kite School outside Rome.

"I cried when I was on the water, big tears," he grinned as his friends and colleagues skimmed over the shimmering waves at Ladispoli.

"Because after two and a half months, it was really beautiful. We stayed home, we complied with all the decrees."

All group and individual sports were cancelled when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown in early March over a pandemic that has since killed nearly 30,000 people, according to Italy's official toll.

Italians could run or cycle within 100 metres of their home, but all other sports were prohibited.

Now, local councils can decide to authorise individual sports such as kitesurfing, provided that practitioners keep a safe distance from each other.

Even though almost all of the shops and restaurants in this resort town remain closed, as does the teaching part of the kite school, surfing is once more permitted.

"We took all the precautions, we came wearing a mask in the van, I also wore it in the water although, as you can see, in the water, it is absolutely not necessary because the distance between one kiter and another is 24 metres," said Somma.

"We hope as soon as possible to return to work, taking all possible precautions," he said.

"We will work a lot with radio helmets so we will be as far away from the students as possible."

Italy's beaches remain officially closed to sunbathers but people can at least once more walk and wet their feet in the slowly warming waters.

"Finally we can come back after two months and 10 days or so, to practise our favourite sport, it's beautiful, the feeling of freedom," said the kite school's co-owner Salvatore Flaccovio.

"They did well to restart individual sports because we're no harm to anybody, we are at a safe distance, we respect all the rules."

The local kitesurfers laugh and pose for photographs, finally on holiday from the biting coronavirus restrictions.

"I’ve missed sport, I've missed the sea, I've missed the closeness of friends, kiters, it's a big family," said Sergio Finocchiaro, before returning to the elegant freedom of flying over the waves.

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