Flying in to either of Rome’s main airports, you might notice the large body of water to your left (or right, depending on your direction of arrival). Yes, that is, in fact, the Mediterranean Sea, whose proximity to Rome is often forgotten upon entering the inland chaos of the city. And while I’m not about to call Rome a beach town, I am about to tell you how easy it is to escape the city for a day of seafood, sand, and sunsets.
There are quite a few little seaside towns dotting the coast around here, of which I’ll highlight a few over the course of the summer, but let’s kick things off with my favorite, and, in my opinion, the most convenient – Santa Marinella.
Your day begins at the train station – Termini, Trastevere, or San Pietro – depending on what’s closest to you. Check the TrenItalia site for times, but there’s generally at least one train per hour (Civitavecchia is the end of the line). Purchase your 7 euro roundtrip ticket, hop on board, and let yourself be whisked out of the city and to the coast. 30-40 minutes later, the train will pull into Santa Marinella, and you will disembark. There’s only one street leading out of the station, so take that. Several yards later, you will approach an intersection, and also your most significant decision of the day. Do you first want to encounter fish in the water or out of water? If you’re eager to get to the beach, then hang a right. You’ll walk down the street toward the water, hop down some stairs, and be there. I suggest packing a picnic ahead of time – there is a supermarket in Santa Marinella, but its stock is always, well, sparse, to say the least. However, if you want to indulge your taste buds in a marine menagerie, then by all means turn left. Presumably there’s a bus that will take you in the proper direction, but if you’re up for the walk, prepare yourself for a nice 25 minute stroll down the Via Aurelia.
Some time later, you will encounter a garage, that, for some reason, has a giant sign up top saying “Tavola Azzurra 2″. This is where you will stop. You will ask for a table. Outside, preferably. You will get a cold bottle of white wine. And an antipasto misto. And then you will sit back as plate after plate of Sardinian specialties are brought out to you. If the crudi, verdure, alici, sarde, polpette and more haven’t fully satiated you, then you might want to indulge in a plate of spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams), or steamed cozze (mussels). You will certainly want to indulge in an order of seadas - a cheese filled disk of fried dough that arrives drizzled with honey.
And then you will pay the rather small bill and amble back the way you came, towel in hand, ready to nap and swim until it’s time for the sun to set.
What: Beach day and/or fish feast
Where: Tavola Azzurra 2, Via Aurelia 111b, Santa Marinella (or just the beach!)
How: Hourly trains from Termini, Trastevere and San Pietro will drop you off at Stazione Santa Marinella, which is a 5 minute walk from the beach.
How much: Come high season, you will need to rent an umbrella for a spot on the beach. Just set up shop and someone will come over. Lunch runs about 20 euro each.
When: I much prefer Santa Marinella in the slightly off-season (basically up until everyone else realizes it’s beach season). For fish, however, go any time.