Spending a day at the beach on the Italian coast in August is pretty much what I imagine hell would look like. Tanned bodies, lined side by side down the beach as far as the eye can see – all glistening from Bain de Soleil SPF4. Remember that smell?
But visit that same coast one month later and all of a sudden hell is transformed into heaven, with only the odd white Speedo clad professional tanner in sight. This is a road much less travelled in September, so the miles of uninhabited beach also come at a fraction of the cost.
Welcome to Senigallia, on the Adriatic Coast in Le Marche province. It’s about 35 minutes north of Ancona, the biggest city in the region. Sun-drenched hotels, most of them shuttered up for the season, line the beachfront boulevard. You can walk for hours, stop and take a dip in water that’s warmer than Maine in the heat of the summer, or just settle on the sand with a picnic and a good book.
Or you can venture further south and hit the jackpot.
Our little convoy headed towards Parco Conero, a massive national park on the coast. None of us had ever been there, but nothing ventured……We made our way up steep twisty roads, passing cyclists with thighs the size of giant Redwoods, to a little coastal town called Porto Nuovo which is hugged by some of the bluest water I have ever seen. The beach was covered with small smooth stones, the water perfect for an afternoon dip to chase the clouds away.
The only restaurant still open for the season welcomed us warmly. They brought plates of local mussels and clams pulled from the sea that very morning. Our gracious waiter suggested a red and white from the region. The red, a Lacrimo de Moro d’Alba, although distinctive, did not get many takers. It smells strongly of roses, and has a very intense taste of prunes. But the white, Mama Mia, La Vigne – a Verdicchio Di Jesi …well we ordered six more, cleaning them out.
On a wine note, if you are bored by your Pinto Grigio, give a Verdicchio a try.
We sat for hours contemplating life over wine and a beautiful view, took a swim in water so clear you could see the fish swim by and sunned ourselves on the rocks.
To quote Mungo Jerry, In the Summertime when the weather is fine, you can stretch right up and touch the sky”.
What a way to extend the summer!