Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Beach Day at Castiglioncello (Part I)

As the faithful Beautiful Florence reader may know, Italian newspaper headlines are focusing on two things.  No, neither the economy nor politics.  The first is the fact that Italy unexpectedly beat Germany in a soccer semifinal and will face Spain in the final tomorrow.  The other is the country is in the midst of a severe heat wave, resulting in June weather with August temperatures.   Much like the snow
red alert (bollino rosso) in February, there is another bollino rosso issued for tomorrow
when it it predicted that it will reach--according to my I phone--37° Celsius in the shade
(98.6 Farhenheit).
Add the legendary Florence humidity and the result is a steam bath.

So, on the weekend, there is nowhere cooler than to head to the sea.
A personal favorite of mine is the beach town of  Castiglioncello (pictured above),
 1 1/2 hours from Florence.

One and a half hours from Florence?!!--you might ask.
The closest beach to Florence is Viareggio, about an hour away.
Having experience the beach scene and the Ionian sea in the Italian region of Puglia in the '80s,
Viareggio is not an option, at least for me.

Above is one of the many reasons I am fond of Castiglioncello--this public park
greets visitors immediately upon arrival.  With its shrubs, flowers, trees and flowers--
not to mention the sprouting fountain--I feel immediately cooler upon first glimpse.

As I am known to arrive at the beach no later than 9 am--before temperatures are scorching--
first things first:  colazione (breakfast).

On and off, I have gone to the beach in Castiglioncello since my arrival in Florence in the '80s.
I have made many discoveries.  One thing, however, has basically remained the same:
breakfast at Caffè Ginori.

The caffé is family owned and run, and the delicious pastries are made in house.

Another cool sight.  These, however are pastries that Italian bring as dessert when invited to
 Sunday lunch.

Colazione is another matter.  My choice may not have been traditional, but delicious.

A caffé macchiato (a shot of espresso coffee with steamed milk, in this case enough to make it look like a mini-cappucino) and a pastry filled with ricotta cheese and sultanas.

Unfortunately, the last several years, Caffé Ginori has instituted wait service ($$$) at the outdoor tables.
Up to now, however, for a faithful customer like me who arrives at the unheard hour of 9 am from Florence, they close an eye (chiudono un'occhio) when I discreetly sit at at one of the first outdoor tables for a few minutes during colazione.
Now, it's off to more important things in Castiglioncello--the sea.

Despite the fact that there are very few native English-speaking visitors to Castiglioncello,
the beach sign is bilingual.

Now, this a sight that needs no translation.  And as hot as it is at the moment,
it is refreshing just to look at--as well as to experience.  More to follow....

1 comment: