Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay

Michael took a few days off after New Year’s Day. When he asked me what I wanted to do, I instantly replied, “Go to the beach!” I didn’t really mean go to the beach, because that would have been an impossible walk for me, but I wanted to see the sea, smell the salt air, and feel the sea breeze on my face. So Tuesday that’s what we did.

Rome sits right next to the Tyrrhenian Sea, so it doesn’t take too long to get to a beach. For this trip we chose Santa Marinella, a charming little village about 45 minutes northwest of Rome. The weather forecast was a bit iffy, but we hoped for the best and set off around 11.

Villa Bettina

Santa Marinella reminds me of so many small beach towns in the world—a mix of gorgeous homes and rundown shacks, a main drag with lots of small businesses (although I didn’t see any saltwater taffy vendors and the gelato vendor didn’t have any gelato Tuesday—I’m doomed to ever eat gelato again!), a small harbor full of small boats, fish restaurants overlooking the sea, several hotels, people fishing from the beach, people walking and jogging through the town, people “watching the tide roll away,” and people “wasting time.” My kind of place! Santa Marinella has some beautiful Art Nouveau buildings, including Villa Bettina, my favorite, with elegant swans under the eaves and fascinating, smoky, stained glass windows.

Our plan was to find a fish restaurant and have a good lunch, stroll a bit near the beach, drive along the sea, and then go home. If we hadn’t turned off the main drag onto a small street along the shore and seen an open restaurant, we might have tossed our first agenda item out the window. Santa Marinella is QUIET in January!

Deck at Ristorante Cavalluccio Marino

But find a restaurant we did—Ristorante Cavalluccio Marino, which had a wonderful deck right on the sea. It was a bit chilly but nice in the sun, so we chose to eat on the deck, as did two other couples. The highlight of my meal was a scrumptious warm salad of octopus and boiled potatoes in a mild vinaigrette. Unfortunately it was huge, and I couldn’t finish it all. Michael started with a delicious COLD (!) clam, mussel, and garbanzo bean soup. We then shared pasta with octopus in a tomato sauce. Michael finished with red shrimp, I ate grilled salmon for my main course, and we shared a bottle of local white wine, which was good but not fabulous. It was such a nice lunch, with such a nice view and the world’s best company!

Tyrrhenian Sea

After lunch we walked on The Walk above the short, sandy beach. The Tyrrhenian Sea was a lovely teal, and 20 or so windsurfers were soaring across the water. The beach was nearly empty except for a couple of fishermen. Clouds were rolling in, but it never rained, and it felt so good to just drink it all in.

We drove down the coast for a few minutes before hopping on the freeway back to Rome and saw an old castle sticking out into the sea. Michael found it on the web and learned that the Castle of Santa Severa was constructed in the 9th century and is now a museum.

Thanks, Michael and Santa Marinella, for a perfect day!


Warm octopus and potato salad

Swans under the eaves at Villa Bettina

Villa Bettina

Castle of Santa Severa

Santa Marinella

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2 Responses to Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay

  1. Charlie Gehringer says:

    Grreat you got to the beach, sounds like a great trip, and an interesting town. Again,. pictures teriffic. Your cold salad of octopus and boiled potatoes sounds interesting, I would like to try it – Trudy said no, but would like Michaels cold soup, everything she likes. Yes we are excited about being great grandparents. Just heard from Kathy, getting off the ship today from their family cruise, Sam did fine, no problems. Take care. Love Charlie

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