To The Sea!

For those of you who may have noticed I have not been posting as much recently, I decided to take a break from my blog while my family was visiting us here in Umbria the past couple of weeks. Sometimes stepping back from something can give you a new appreciation and perspective, and after 9 years online sharing my favorite Italian recipes, I just needed a brief break both from computer and the internet which has been extremely slow here recently. I had a lovely time with my family visiting some of my favorite Umbrian hill towns, working around the farmhouses, and creating new recipes in my kitchen to share with my family and I’m back, fresh from my holiday, and excited to share my recipes and adventures with you. We primarily restricted our travels to Umbria the past few weeks, but we did take one short trip with the family to visit the sea along the Adriatic coast in Le Marche.

Although we love our little piece of paradise here in the Umbrian countryside where the only thing we hear throughout the day are the clang of church bells, birds singing, or the occasional sound of a tractor in one of the adjoining fields, every once in awhile we feel the need to be by the sea. Umbria is the only landlocked region in Italy and although we do have a few beautiful lakes close by, the smell of the sea with the surf crashing along the shore, and of course the abundance of fresh seafood found along the coast is very enticing to us. We are very lucky here in Umbria being so centrally located that we can reach either coast in about a 2.5 hour drive. We have in recent years visited the beaches of Le Marche, particularly in the Fano area but this trip we decided to take the advice of Italian friends and headed to San Benedetto del Tronto in the province of Ascoli, also called Riviera dell Palme. The one difficulty I had when booking two nights along the coast was that during the summer season, most hotels required both a minimum three night stay, as well as board. Most hotels offer either half board (breakfast and lunch), or full board (breakfast, lunch & dinner) and you pay for the hotel per person/per night, which includes both your hotel stay as well as your meals in the hotel. After an extensive search, I finally found a fairly new hotel just a couple of streets off the beach that had no restaurant called Regent hotel where we were able to book rooms for two nights including breakfast.

San Benedetto Del Tronto is an active fishing port with an 8 kilometer stretch of sandy beach that is lined with palm trees, and has become one of the main seaside resorts on the central Adriatic coast partly due to it’s “blue flag” status. The Blue Flag is an exclusive eco-label awarded to beaches and marinas in 21 countries across Europe. The Blue Flag is a symbol of high environmental standards as well as good sanitary and safety facilities at the beach/marina. The beach at San Benedetto is quite shallow making it particularly safe for children. Like most seaside resort towns, the entire stretch of beach apart from a few public beaches found here and there is lined with beach clubs where folks pay a few to rent chairs, umbrellas, cabanas plus many other options. Many of these beach clubs, called chalets in San Benedetto also have snack bars and restaurants so you could spend your entire day there enjoying the sand, sun, and some very good seafood meals.

We arrived in San Benedetto on a cool, breezy Monday afternoon which in hindsight was not very good planning since we went there in part for the seafood. Everyone knows that there is no fresh seafood on Mondays! The beach was also quite deserted due to the cool temperatures and it seemed ironic that after a warmer than average month, we arrived at the sea on the the coldest day in months. We spent our first afternoon and evening exploring the town and walking everywhere, enjoying a delicious seafood lunch and dinner. Our second day we spent by the sea and were lucky enough to find a beach club that allowed us to bring in our little dog who happily curled up in an empty beach bag and enjoyed the sea breeze for the rest of the day. Our chairs were placed close to the water and we spent an enjoyable day relaxing by the surf and watching a continual procession of bronzed flesh barely covered in spandex as folks meandered up and down.

For lunch on our second day, we headed to a restaurant recommended to us in one of the other beach clubs or chalets called La Croisette. We were offered the seafood antipasti which we turned down as we wanted a light lunch of seafood pasta, but after seeing the myriad of amazing antipasti plates served to other tables, we decided we had to return to La Croisette for dinner. The restaurant is quite small and they were completely booked when we tried to make our dinner reservation, but agreed to squeeze us in as we would be dining early with little children. Our dinner at La Croisette was indeed as wonderful as we had anticipated it would be, with more delicious fresh seafood than we could even imagine. After being served plate after plate of various seafood appetizers we really thought none of us could eat another bite, but we did manage to enjoy a small portion of roasted white fish for our second course and afterwards headed back to our hotel completely satiated with seafood.

The following morning I talked everyone into driving up the coast to Pesaro before we headed back to Umbria, where one of my favorite seafood restaurants can be found. Once we arrived in Pesaro, we walked through town doing a little shopping before heading to the beach where my restaurant could be found. There are times when you end up disappointed when you try to revisit a restaurant where you were served a memorable meal a year or two later, but the tiny fried calamaretti, and vongole saute were as wonderful as I remembered from previous years! We headed back to Umbria after our quick trip to the sea, very happy to be back home in Umbria although we all thoroughly enjoyed the sun, sea, sand, and best of all the amazing seafood!

The palm tree lined walking streets of San Benedetto Del Tronto.


The downtown shopping area of San Benedetto which is bustling with folks when the
sun goes down.


The sandy beaches of San Benedetto which stretch for miles.


The colorful umbrella topped beaches in Pesaro.


Ristorant La Croisette
Viale Trieste 37,
San Benedetto Del Tronto, (AP) 63039

Hotel Regent
Viale Gramsci 31,
San Benedetto Del Tronto, (AP) 63039
Deborah Mele
August 2010

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