A little wind and a wave or two was enough to make both amateur and professional Italian surfers quickly forget two months of anti-virus lockdown.
The beaches of Ladispoli, northeast of Rome, have opened after being off-limits since March, and despite mediocre conditions, the surfers showed up to ride the waves.
"The best feeling was putting my feet back in the sand again, even before getting into the water," said local surfer Piero Capannini. "Then, the fact of being able to immerse yourself and be in the waves felt like I was doing it for the first time."
The waves weren't great, he added, "but still it was maybe one of the most beautiful sessions in my life."
With a setting sun, a steady wind stirring the palm trees and a crumbling medieval tower in the background, these surfers said they wouldn't miss this opportunity for the world.
"You can see that the waves aren't amazing but we're all in the water so that shows how important it is for us to be able to get back in the water, put on the wetsuit even if it's cold," said surf instructor Fabrizio Cimini.
Another surfer, Giorgio Fiorilli, said he surfed every day before the coronavirus emergency struck. But what he also missed, he said, was the tight-knit surfing community.
"You see all these people with you, close to you, you feel home, with your family. It's really nice," Fiorilli said.
Also in the water was professional surfer Roberto D'Amico, who lives in Ladispoli. When the town reopened its beaches on May 4, D'Amico appealed on his Facebook page for beach lovers to respect social distancing, as the beach risked being closed again over any irresponsible behavior.
Most beaches remain closed throughout Italy although local officials have the authority to reopen them.
"Surely times have not been easy for anyone. I knew that surfing wasn't a priority right now," D'Amico told AFP. "We respected the rules, we were really barricaded at home for two months."
"The pandemic is not over, but nevertheless we've been given the freedom to come back and breathe some quality sea air, which makes us really happy and gives us the strength to face this difficult period for everyone."