My host is in London for the weekend, and instead of staying up on the mountain with no way down, she suggested I take a weekend trip to Viareggio. I researched the area online and called ahead to book my room at a bed and breakfast near the beach. Interestingly enough, in the USA, your rate depends on the size of your room. Here in italy, you can actually request a room with a queen-sized bed for single person (uso singolo) for a discounted rate (assuming availability). I was surprised… “Its about you being comfortable and enjoying your stay” Heather quipped “not money!”
Heather dropped me off at the Pisa train station on her way to the airport. I purchased my ticket using the automated bigletteria and it was almost tooo simple. Grabbed the next train out… only a 14 minute ride to Torre del Lago and it cost 3 Euro. Fares for trains are based off mileage between departure and destination locations. Shorter distance, cheaper fare.
Torre del Lago reminds me of what I envision Provincetown to be (never been there but heard stories and have seen pictures). The B&B host picked me up at the train station and was nice enough to give me a quick little tour to get me oriented. I soon realized that while it may be the closest b&b to the beach, it wasn’t close enough. My legs were just not going to make it, so I rented a bicycle and chain with lock for 5 Euro/day. Mind you, my ROBUST frame hasn’t been on a bike since I was probably 12 years old, but I’m all about new experiences and thought I’d give it a go. I made arrangements for the bike to be picked up at the b&b after I depart, which thankfully they were willing to do.
It was a beautiful sunny day, I put on my swim trunks, grabbed a towel and other beach stuff, put it in my bag and I headed to the beach! In the area around my b&b, there aren’t any bike paths, so I had to drive in the street. I was worried I would be honked at and yelled at because the bike only went so fast (old style bicycles)… they just drove around me. no problem. no yelling. When I saw an 80 year old man riding his bicycle in the street at a slightly slower speed, I was comforted. The ride was about 4-6 miles. There is a main street that you ride on that brings you through the long stretch of pinewood forest that separates the town of Torre del Lago from the beach. Once you get to the beach, there are lots of dunes. Mosquitos were horrible this year due to increased rain. It was even on the news. I had to pay 8 Euro for mosquito spray, they were eating me up…never seen anything like it. The beach was empty, and hadn’t been cleaned yet for tourist season. Locals tell me the beach season starts end of June, which is probably why I had no problem getting a room and at an inexpensive rate. Oh well, all I need is the sun, sand and water and I’m happy. Being a landlocked St. Louisan, I was happy to see this body of water and soaked up every minute of it.
Once you get to the beach, there are lots of restaurants and discos and a large area for pay parking. Plenty of restaurants rent beachfront and offer chairs and umbrella setups in their area. I, on the other hand, found my own spot, put down my towel, and enjoyed my slow burn. I tend to burn easily and yes, the sun is stronger here. I was nice and red in about an hour. I could hear the toaster ‘ding’ in my head… time to get out of the sun and get some food. PIZZA… yes! Haven’t had pizza yet this trip!
Here’s the pizzaiolo cooking the pizza. I ate two slices for about 5.50 Euro and a small tin of coke for 1.50 Euro. They then slice the two slices into smaller slices for you to handle. If you ever take the time to watch europeans eat, you will notice most of the food is served on some sort of paper product. Pizza on paper squares, sandwiches wrapped in a paper napkin. This is for sanitation. Most take-away places don’t offer a restroom where you can go wash your hands like in the US. Watch a european, and they will use that paper as a way of picking up the food product, thus keeping their dirty hands off of the food they are consuming.