Monday, June 25, 2012

Introducing Zita the Vespa

We now have a Vespa! We’ve named her after Saint Zita, the patron saint of maids and domestic service, as we all know she has her work cut out for her lugging us around! Saint Zita is also a local saint; her mummified body is on display in the Basilica di San Frediano here in Lucca. I also thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a saint with us on those narrow and winding roads!

Back to Zita the Vespa. Until now we’ve been reliant on our push bikes and our feet, which whilst they’re getting a good workout – only get us so far. Lucca is surrounded by hills on all sides so it will be great to get a little further into them, especially as it heats up so we can escape to the cooler hills.

Speaking of heat! We are in the grips of a heat wave; today we’re expecting 33 degrees, our 10th consecutive day in the 30’s! Thankfully we’ve had Zita to get us out of town and over to the coast to check out the local beach scene. A friend we met in Florence recommended we must experience the Italian Bagnos (beach clubs) as it’s very different from any beach experience in Australia.

 So we head on over to Lido di Camaiore, our nearest beach.  It's a 45min Vespa ride from home, on a pleasant secondary road through the hills and over to the coast. A Lido is a long stretch of beach with 100s of beach clubs (or bagnos as they are called) side by side, the only difference being the name and change in colour of the many umbrellas and deck chairs. Lido di Camaiore is just north of Viareggio the Surfers Paradise of the Tuscan coast. 

Here’s a little of what we found ........

On the first of our 2 beach days, we select Bagno 'Moby Dick' as they have a restaurant overlooking the beach, well, overlooks the mass of umbrellas and beach chairs on the beach, more to the point! They also have Spaghetti Vongole on the menu which we’ve been hanging out for. Disappointingly, the Spaghetti Vongole was nothing to write home about!

We head home, pleased that Zita has performed admirably on her first outing.

On the next day, we hunt down Bagno Cavallone (thanks Trip Advisor) which recommends this family run establishment and restaurant where you can eat with your feet in the sand – yay! Thankfully, it's a better choice than our previous day’s adventure. Bagno Cavallone is a little more refined, more our ‘cup of tea’ or glass of wine which we enjoy with our second attempt at Spaghetti Vongole! We negotiate a deal on our umbrella and 2 sun lounges, €25 for the day, and here we prop from 10am till after 6pm (got to get your monies worth). A most pleasant day was had by all, except for the man that dropped dead at the water’s edge of our Bagno. The poor guy was just strolling the beach on his own and literally dropped dead. We wondered what all the fuss was about and wandered down for swim and look. The Croce Rosse (Italian Red Cross) just had him lying there on the sand covered with a sheet! So obviously a dead body!

 We stop by a church on the way home, Zita has a few quiet moments, Marino and I head next door to the winery and order 2 dozen bottles for home. Lucky for us (and Zita) they offer home delivery to Lucca. We are all happy!

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