Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beach Club Basics of Lerici

Between too much work and the poopy weather, I haven’t been very inspired to write as of lately. It’s amazing how much the weather affects me! Usually this time of year I am full of observances and funny anecdotes (or so I like to think!), but with the past two weeks of fall temperatures (and rain), had me in a bit of a lull. So, waking up this morning to summer weather was really a treat!

Lucy and I made our way down into the village early with camera in tow to finally get in some good shots of the local beach clubs. I figured after my blog about the downside of July and my insistence of paying for a beach club, I ought to back it up with some information on those here in Lerici.

At the public beach, Venere Azzura, there are also two beach clubs at each end of the cove. While in my opinion, you are still pretty packed in, you do have your own chair and they are less expensive than the other beach clubs (about €8 for a lounge char and €4 for a chair).

There is also a small Beach Club at San Terenzo, but you are basically smashed in with the public beach so I would not consider paying for this!

To the south you have Locanda del Lido, one of the two best in town. Here you have a fine sand beach, a decent amount of space between rows of umbrellas and lovely water in which you can walk out a good 100 meters and still be only up to your waist. They have a couple of snacks bars serving decent food as well. Be prepared for the price though at about €32 for entrance, two lounge chairs and an umbrella.

Toward San Terenzo you will find Colombo Beach Club, recently refurbished with a fabulous jetty and a (not so deserved) 4-star hotel right on the sea. Here there is only a small patch of sand. The rest is terraced stone and the exclusive wood jetty. NOTE: The hotel itself is a fabulous location and you would think at over €200/night you would have a “beachy” chic room, but no. The rooms leave lots of to be desired with modular, wood furniture and ugly decor and the restaurant is so-so with astronoimcal prices.

But back to the beach club which is really nice. Again, not an inexpensive place at €38 for entrance, two lounge chairs and an umbrella on the terrace and €40 for the same on the jetty; yet the space and ambience, gorgeous water and constant breeze makes this the other best of Lerici.

There are also several nice beaches, public and private, to the south of Lerici heading to Tellaro, including the uber-chic Eco del Mare (bit more n that another time!). You can also rent small dinghy boats in town that can fit up to 6 people and are fun for putting around the coves versus feeling like a sardine!

In any case, you are better off arriving before 10AM on a weekday and more like 9AM on the weekend in order to nab a good spot. If driving, you can park at the Vallata parking lot which is conveniently located smack between the two villages of Lerici and San Terenzo (about €9 for the day). Again, get there early!

Anyway, welcome back summer!

Hope you stick around for a while...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Megan’s Berry Buckle

Before moving to Italy, I used to “host” Sunday night dinners at my house for my beach volleyball crew. I was famous for my sautéed clams, sangria and berry buckle. Oddly enough until last night, the only one I had ever made here was the clams. I got the baking buzz and decided to treat Lui and Simona (aka our “rent-a-kid”) to my dessert concoction (loosely based on the one made at the old restaurant Cynthia’s on Melrose for you LA friends)...


* 1 cup of flour

* 1/2 cup of sugar

* 1/2 cup of brown sugar

* 1/2 stick of butter (at room temperature)

* pinch of salt

* 2 cups of blueberries

* 1 cup of raspberries (Although any berry or even peaches work too)

* Vanilla ice cream (or in our Italian case, fior di latte)

Mix the dry ingredients together making a choppy mixture. You can add more butter if it doesn’t look choppy enough.

Take half the mixture and mix it up with the berries, then fill 4 small ramekins with it. Take the other half of the mixture and pat it on top of the berries. Set in frig for a 1/2 hour or more.

Heat oven at 400 degrees. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet with wax paper underneath. Cook for 20 minutes or until it’s bubbling over. Place each hot ramekin on a small dish and plop a large dollop of ice cream on top. Serve hot.


Monday, July 11, 2011

The Downside of July on the Italian Riviera

The beautiful beach in quieter times...

I grew up on a pristine, private cove in southern California with 350 days of sunshine a year. It was paradise to me. My husband grew up going to an exclusive “stablimento balneare” where his perfect lounge chair and ample space to play awaited him every day of the summer. Together we are 100% bonafide beach snobs. I admit it and with good reason.

By the end of June the public beaches of Italy begin to fill up with locals and tourists alike. It’s a methodic, seasonal thing that never changes, and goes until just after Ferragosto, when just like the clock striking midnight for CInderella, it’s time for everyone to go home and prepare for autumn. So why would be even attempt to go to the public beach on a Sunday in mid-summer? We only wanted a couple hours of morning sun and Lui wanted to take a good swim (aka more like a work out). We knew our beaches in Lerici would already be packed, so we thought that at 9AM we’d find some space and peace at the large, long open beaches of Marinella, just a 15 minute drive from home. Wrong.

The first sign should have been the effort it took to find a parking space (at 8:50AM). But we were determined for that swim! Upon arriving at the beach, this is what it looked like:

9AM on a Sunday in July

Peace and space went on vacation about last June 1.

Mid-morning traffic jam

Within the first 1/2 hour, we watched two women get into a fight (almost physically) because one of their kids splashed the other one; a man in a g-string and nothing more almost knocked me over with his morning jog through the masses (I was too in shock to take a photo, what a shame); a family of 5 literally placed their towels on top of about 1/3 of ours to claim their territory for the day; a baby made a “bella cacca” (as the mother cooed) in its diaper about 10 feet away and then the mamma decided to clean off his little bottom in the fresh sea water just in front of us.

With that, we got up, took our belongings, got back in the car and sat in the garden for the rest of the afternoon.

Word from the not-so-wise:

If you don’t have a boat and you can’t find the perfect rock to lie on, pay the cold hard cash for a nice lounge chair and umbrella at a private beach club. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Where I would have been had I been thinking clearly!