Viva Italia! Part III: Ostia Lido

It’s been so abnormally hot in Sackville for the past few days, and I am thoroughly enjoying the late summer vibes this year – although it definitely has me wanting to escape to frolic in the York Street cemetery instead of working all day! To go along with the summer that is so graciously lingering into the end of September, this is a story about the day Mink and I went to the beach in Rome.

Here’s a little beach music (not about a beach in Rome, but still very chill) to set the tone
“Venice Beach” by The Egg.

After two intense days of sight-seeing and walking for kilometers around the city, Mink and I were feeling the need to have a relaxed day. And what better way is there than stretching out on the beach for the day under the hot Italian sun? We looked up the options for beaches in the area, and although there were a few nice-looking resort towns a little ways outside of the city, we decided to opt for a beach located on the outskirts of Rome itself called Ostia Lido. Reviews said that this was a favourite haunt of the locals themselves all summer long (which is more like eight months a year instead of our piddly two-month ones in Canada).

Ostia is a neighbourhood of Rome, and the “Lido” in the name is simply a term for a public beach. Mink and I hopped on the metro to get out there that morning, and just hoped that the beach would be close to the station when we got there. Luckily, we found some girls in beach garb to surreptitiously follow for a few blocks, and eventually we came to a boardwalk with cheap clothes and trinkets and, oddly enough, a huge book store. After taking photos of the boardwalk and the hundreds of brightly-coloured umbrellas, we randomly chose a site to put our towels, which we had borrowed for the day from our B&B. A mere four euros later, we were stretched out on the beach, with (naturally) some rather warm red wine, the Italian answer to keeping hydrated.

The beach looks chaotic and crowded here, but it didn’t feel overwhelming. It was just us among a bunch of enthusiastic Italians enjoying the sun, and we appreciated the curvy aesthetic that is favoured there for women’s bodies. Our beach neighbours mostly looked amazing, but they clearly know how to enjoy delicious food and wine and don’t sacrifice that pleasure to have ‘perfect’ beach bodies. Looking sexy is all about the confidence, anyway. Those leather-handbag tans on a lot of them, though, are a recipe for crazy skin cancer down the road.

Our day was very relaxed, and I didn’t take too many photos. The ones I did take are hazy and lazy, and the cerulean blues of sky and sea captures how perfect the entire day was. We took turns going swimming in the water, which is so much warmer than the Atlantic Ocean beaches in the Maritimes.

The best random happening of the day: we had somehow set up our stuff in the middle of a huge Italian family – but to be fair, they were spread out and there were a lot of them. The best part of the day was when one of the guys, who was eating a giant piece of watermelon, randomly went up to a woman (I’m assuming it was his girlfriend or something) and, creeping up behind her, smashed the watermelon rind into her face. He proceeded to mash the rind into her hair and all over her body while she could merely scream, she was so shocked. Everyone around her thought it was hilarious, including us, and she was crying with laughter by the end of her ordeal.

A few loungers in front of us:

After a long and productive day of napping on the beach and sipping wine, we decided to stop in the neighbourhood for dinner before heading back to the city. We chose what looked like an adorable little restaurant, complete with greenery around the entrance and an intimate eating space. It was really early for dinner, so the place was almost empty, but the one table of Italian customers in there gave it a huge thumbs up and we decided to stay. There was an equally adorable old man who was the host and waiter, and he spoke English pretty well. We ordered what we thought would be two awesome pizzas, since we were starving and the restaurant touted itself as a “pizzeria.”

Unfortunately, I guess he reserves the exquisite service and delicious food for the true Italians, and the tourists get the pleasure of trying to eat terrible frozen cardboard pizzas that have been warmed up in the oven. Full disclosure: it was pretty gross. It was so sad, too, because the old man was so cute but he clearly doesn’t think tourists have any concept of what real food should taste like. We were disappointed in Ostia Lido after that, but it was the one unpalatable moment in an otherwise wonderful day. And we still tipped him, because we are so Canadian like that.

We went to bed early that night, since we were kind of sunburned… and also we’d decided to take a 5 a.m. train the next morning for a day trip to Naples and Pompeii!

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