Thursday, July 07, 2005

Italian Beaches are...Different

June 16, 2005, 10:12 AM, Marina di Pietrasanta, Italy

Ahhhh, the beach! Now, this is a vacation! What a difference from Sestriere. I know when I watch the Winter Olympics next year, I’ll feel a little nostalgia, and wonder how it would be to be there with all the activity going on, but…I’m just so glad we decided to leave there and come to the coast.

I’m sitting here in a beach chair, soaking in the sun and listening to the soft roar of the ocean. Soft, because the waves in the Mediterranean aren’t that big. But the water is blue, and there’s not a cloud in the sky, except for the ones over the mountains to the east. We’re here for the day, having paid (or will pay) 20 Euros for the rental of chairs and an umbrella. That’s the discounted price because we’re staying at Hotel Lombardi. Trouble is, the front desk told us that the beach rental people accept credit cards and…surprise! They don’t. The girl was nice enough, though, to allow us to pay her later.

Anyway, it’s gorgeous here. Not too hot, with a nice, fresh breeze. I wonder if I’ll actually get hot enough to go into the water. It would be a shame to be on the Mediterranean, and not go in the water. Of course, I’m sure it’s not as warm here as it was in Crete.

So…last night. We were on a quest to find our first real Italian meal—something besides pizza. We headed south down the Oceanside sidewalk because we recalled seeing more restaurants that way. I stopped at a phone booth and called Frank; got right through. In the room earlier, I tried unsuccessfully three times before giving up. Frank said everything is fine at home except that he almost killed Ruby last night. (Ruby is our neurotic cat who is always a pain in the ass when I’m gone; well, she’s a pain in the ass when I’m there, too, but I love her dearly.) Frank told me how she woke him up at three in the morning, but didn’t go into any more detail. Bottom line—she’s still alive, which makes me very happy. He also told me that Leah has three phone interviews from Atlanta, so hopefully, she’ll get a job she likes, maybe loves, soon after she gets there.

We chose a ristorante called D’ Michele—a rather French name for an Italian restaurant—and because it was a bit cool, we opted to sit inside. We ordered salad, pasta and wine—red for Kathy, white for me. I had penne pomodoro and it was exquisite—the best pasta and sauce I’ve ever had in my life. I ate every bite. Everything was perfect until we paid our bill. We’d asked for separate checks so we could both charge, and that was no problem. He took our credit cards and disappeared. He was gone for some time, and once we saw him looking over at us strangely, and we wondered if there was a problem. Next thing you know, he’s back with my credit slip, but he tells Kathy that her card doesn’t work. So, I had to put her dinner tab on my card. When we got back to the hotel, Kathy went to the desk to see if they could help her call the credit card company. The girl tested her card, and guess what? It worked! So, we have no idea what the problem was. It didn’t seem like a scam because the waiter went to all the trouble to give us separate checks and to run our cards through.

After the full meal and wine, we were ready for bed, even though it was early. And really, there was nothing else to do. It was too cool to sit outside on the terrace and watch the people—not that there were any people to watch. It’s just the beginning of the season here, and apparently, the place doesn’t really start hopping until July and August.

Okay, we’ve been sitting here on the beach for about forty minutes, and we’ve discovered another unpleasant fact about Italy. The beach is swarming with cockroaches. No, not the disgusting bug kind of cockroach, but human ones—people selling beach towels, Louie Vuitton purse knock-offs and God knows what else. And they are persistent. And annoying. Very annoying. I need to learn how to say “go away” in Italian. But watching how the other sunbathers handle it, we’ve discovered that the best way to respond is to simply ignore them. But it’s very irritating to constantly be interrupted from our reading (or in my case, my typing) by these bloodsuckers. That’s one thing we never had to put up with in Greece. Not once did anyone come up to us and try to sell us something. There was that donut seller walking around, but we called him over to buy one. So if anyone ever asks me what country I like better, Greece or Italy, hands down, it’s Greece.

Okay, that’s it for now. I’m going to get out my book and read. Even though I’m sitting under an umbrella, I can already feel my thighs starting to burn, and that’s after slathering on SPF 20 sunscreen.


Post a Comment

<< Home