We went to the sea only twice in 2012: once in January to Santa Marinella and once in September to Sabaudia. The good thing about going to the sea in January and September is that you have the beach to yourself, because for Italians, beach season is June, July, and August. The rest of the year is way too cold for the sea. The bad thing about going to the sea in January and September or any other months outside beach season is that many restaurants are closed and beach hotels are eerily quiet.
We both love the sea and cannot figure out why we don’t spend more time there. This year we decided to change our ways and visit the sea during beach season. Yet this year we once again went to the sea only twice (we returned to Sabaudia in September). What is wrong with us!
Some of Michael’s colleagues and my hair stylist recommended that we go to Sperlonga, and we drove there in June. Located about halfway between Rome and Naples, Sperlonga boasts beautiful sandy beaches with clean azure water. The village is divided into two parts: an old town on the top of a rocky promontory (originally built as a fortress) and a new town along the seaside immediately to the north. We stayed in a hotel just a short walk from the long beach to the south of town.
Sperlonga reminds us of Sidi Bou Said, a suburb of Tunis. Sidi Bou Said has sparkling white buildings trimmed in brilliant blue, and the village sits on a cliff above the Mediterranean Sea. Sperlonga also gleams in the sun and looks out on the Mediterranean. Although its buildings are not quite so white as those in Sidi Bou Said and only some are trimmed in blue, Sperlonga, too, is striking and beautiful.
The old town of Sperlonga does not allow automobiles. A small parking lot sits just off the highway, but on Friday afternoon we elected to make the long walk from our hotel up, up, up to the old town. I lost count of the number of stairs to the top, but we must have climbed 300 or so (and descended them late in the evening, aided by a full moon). After an Aperol Spritz in a piazza at the top of the hill, we climbed up and down and up and down through the old town with its beautiful views of the sea and the mountains to the north. During our walk, we noticed a pretty restaurant, Gli Archi, near the top of the hill. Although it didn’t have a sea view, it had tables on a beautiful terrace, and we wandered back there and made a reservation for dinner. We enjoyed a wonderful meal, and the terrace was magical.
The new town is much more modern and less quaint than the old town. We ate dinner there Saturday night in a restaurant next to the main drag. The restaurant was so close to the road that if drivers had turned their car even a smidgen too sharply to the right as they rounded the corner, I would have been flattened! Thankfully, I wasn’t, but the food was just okay, and we wished that we’d eaten in the old town again.
The beach south of Sperlonga was glorious, and we spent all day there Saturday. Like most Italian beaches (at least along the west side of the Mediterranean), if you want a beach chair and umbrella and you haven’t brought your own, you must rent them in one of several private areas. Once you do, the chair and umbrella are yours for the day. Our hotel recommended one of the private areas, and it was fine, but the chairs were quite close together, and we would have preferred the private area at the far north, which was a bit roomier and which was close to a good buffet restaurant.
Sperlonga isn’t fancy or elegant, but it’s charming and relaxing. It’s a perfect beach town and a great place to just chill.