We set off today for the seaside – without a map. How hard can it be to head east until you come to the ocean? Our map is limited to the province of Umbria, and today’s exploration took us to Le Marche, the neighbouring province.
Well we did get lost, but that is all part of the adventure. All new visitors to Umbria should plan on getting lost on purpose.
We struck out for Ancona, a major sea and ferry connection port – for example – Minoan Lines ferries to Greece call here. On the way, we found ourselves cutting across a mountain range, on a recently upgraded main road. We cannot imagine how much money has been spent on this road, tunnel after tunnel cut through the mountain, and where there was not a tunnel, there was a bridge. Each tunnel and bridge had a name, and each had a sign showing its length – several tunnels were around a kilometre long.
We drove right into Ancona, a dirty, grimy port city of railway lines, graffiti and traffic lights. We could see container ships out to sea. We thought if we headed north from there we would hug the coastline, only to discover that it is the railway line that hugs the coast. A funeral cortege came toward us from the opposite direction, a line of around thirty cars following the hearse. Everything of this area is quite different to Umbria, the house are painted cement rendered square blocks, and we could see many modern homes and apartment blocks hugging the ocean, but could not work out how to get across to there, until finally, a few kilometres north, we came to a promenade called “lungo di mare” (along the sea).
We had found the place Italians come to holiday – Senigallia. Along the length of this promenade, some many kilometres, there are hotels and apartments and campsites on one side, and on the sea side, there is beach for hire. At first we saw only stones, smooth shiny stones such as we would use to decorate a garden, but as we went a little further, we saw the first “beach”.
We were both very taken with this. Each square of land is operated by a separate business identity. They offer a bar and restaurant, change rooms, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, children’s play equipment – sand. The day was warm, but there were few tourists about – many of the umbrellas were still furled and chairs closed up. We had no trouble getting attentive service at the place we chose for lunch and we made a feast of it.
Bill ordered a seafood antipasto, which came in two serves, one cold and one hot, and we nibbled on grissini (bread sticks) and watched the view while we waited for our meal.
A bobcat was putting sand back on the beach. It isn’t clear to us whether this part of the beach is naturally sand, especially given the amount of pebble nearby.
At close hand, a man was “ironing” the beach – at least that is how it appeared, pushing a compression machine around and around in decreasing squares, smoothing the sand under a volley ball net.
Two mature aged ladies came running up the beach. Boobs and fat wobbled in their two piece costumes as they flung themselves at a table and called for coffee. Let’s raise a cheer for fat bellied women with back fat who could not give a fig about how they look at the beach. (Note to self: I have plenty of the fat – just missing the two piece).
Our meals came along – mine a mixed platter of lightly fried seafood such as calamari and octopus mixed with fried zucchini and carrot. Bill’s was the choice of the day – a cold platter of mixed delicacies including a salad of squid, chick peas, green beans and potato, and a bruschetta of fresh sardines. The second platter was a bowl of mussels and cockles, and a side platter of cubes of squid cooked with peas and tomato.
As we left the restaurant, after an animated discussion with the waiters and owner, and much shaking of hands all around – I noticed a young man passing by on a bicycle. He was talking on the mobile with one hand, and “talking” as well with his free hand. The handlebars on the bicycle were surplus to requirement. Some say that the Italians of the north are more reserved than in the south, but that has not been our experience so far. Quite the opposite!