My Italian Diary: Lido d'Ostia
The entrancing smell of the pignoli trees carried us through the windy streets of Tuscany. We entered into one of our listed destinations: Cala Piccola.
Through the quaint, decorated streets of Orbetello, and the hustle and bustle of the marina of Porto Santo Stefano, we found ourselves once again in a trance from the breathtaking beauty of the Maremma. There is one road that circulates the island. A road adorned with sharp turns that rest on the top of cliffs that cascade into the crystal clear water of the Mediterranean Sea. As we approached our destination of Cala Piccola, we realised we were entering private beach territory, but being only one road, we chose to continue on — and I’m glad we did.
We were both tired, dehydrated, and getting snappy with each other. We started bickering about silly things like where to stop and jump in the water. After a few minutes, we both were left speechless by the view of the sea that presented itself when the sharp turns came to a pause. And there we gazed at the water, splashing cinematically against the cliff side. We spotted a small beach, only a 15 minute walk down the cliffside. At this point, we fell in complete silence. The salt water brushed through my hair, and I watched as the rays from the sun perforated the water and danced on my skin.
Reluctantly, we dried off and hit the road to find something to eat before it was too late (again). After the first of many tastes of fresh fish, we set out for Rome.
With many Autogrill stops and sore muscles, we finally began to see signs for Fiumicino. Then arrived the palm trees, the sea air, and just a hint of mafia representation — clear indicators that we made it to Lido d’Ostia.
Davide’s sister fled to Ostia two years ago out of her love for the sea. She, like many of us, had been dealing with some very difficult times, so the last time I saw her wasn’t the most joyful. I remember being almost nervous what to expect for our visit. To my absolute surprise, she was as bright as the Italian sunshine. She greeted us with big, warm hugs and kisses, and genuine happiness. It was so incredible to see her so happy. “Maybe it’s the ocean air,” I thought to myself. Some people really are happier by the sea. I think I’m one of those people too, but I also need a taste of the mountains as well, which is one of the reasons I love Italy so much. Italy is the perfect matrimony of land and sea.
Tania and her loving, kind boyfriend Marco were so excited to have us. I left for the evening to meet with friends from Brooklyn who were traveling in Rome. I navigated the trains like a true New Yorker — so well that I’m sure I seemed like a local. Rome is not a place I’d like to stand out at all. After dinner I returned safely to Tania, Marco, and Davide. I was almost overwhelmed by their mindfulness of my endometriosis. The apartment was stocked with fresh fruits and veggies they knew that I would be able to eat, and that I loved. I always feel a little emotional (in a good way) when my friends and family show an effort to understand my disease. I feel so lucky to have people like them in my life all over the world.
The next day, we sprawled ourselves out onto the beautiful sandy beach near Tania’s apartment. I was especially excited by the amount of fresh fish I knew I was about to consume. We spent the day gliding through the waves, chatting about life, and digging for little clams. “It never rains here,” Tania said as the pitch black clouds were quickly approaching from the North. It seemed as if we brought the Tuscan rain with us. In an instant, everyone scattered from the beach to escape the torrential downpour that left us stuck in traffic for 30 minutes. It felt like people were sitting in their cars, as if they had just seen rain for the first time saying, “what is this stuff??”
We were having such a great time with Tania and Marco that we decided to stay another night. The next day, we spent the morning at Ostia’s glorious food market, gathering fresh fish, veggies, fruits, and breads. We stopped at a store where if you bring your own bottle, they will fill it with their homemade wine out of giant damigiane (see photo below). The rest of the day was spent at the beach to make up for lost time. As if the warmth of the water, the sea air, and great company weren’t enough to want to stay longer, we had an aperitivo at sunset on the beach. The sun dipped into the water, and enchanting colors of red and orange once again filled the sky. That evening, Tania and Marco gave us a tour of the town and we enjoyed a cup of some of my favorite gelato flavors — fig, and pistacchio.
The next morning, they sent us on our way with fresh fruits and big hugs. We headed for our new home in Emilia Romagna back through the Tuscan hillsides, making a few stops along the way. Next up: Montepulciano!