Portonovo, Happy 63rd Will!January 20, 2017 in Italy
It was Will's 63rd birthday today. We'd decided to do a few nice things but leave presents and the birthday meal to another day when Vicky's neck was better and she could look after him instead of it needing to be the other way round.
We'd read about the Conero Riviera, a particularly beautiful stretch of coast backed by towering white cliffs. The plan was to stay somewhere along there and go for a walk on a beach. Unfortunately, in order to reach it we needed to pass through the busy port town of Ancona; the source of pollution we'd seen yesterday. As we approached, the film of dirt on everything thickened, dampening colours and the light. We passed through a tunnel and it was only once we were half way through that we realised there were supposed to be cats eyes marking out the lanes. It caught in our throats while we tried to navigate through the narrow streets, inconsiderate parking and one way systems, dodging potholes, cracks in the concrete and having no choice but to roll with the undulating road surface.
It was a breath of fresh air for our lungs and eyes when we emerged the other side, climbing above most of the smog on a road that ran between open fields and had glimpses of coves bordering the vast blue ocean below. We climbed, descended, climbed then descended the 200m high cliff, through woodland to the small resort of Portonovo. Finding a light yellow gravel car park in a quiet woodland clearing, we checked whether we could stay and found again that it was free this time of year (it would have been €18 in high season!). Leaving the van and winding our way down single track roads framed by forest, we found the rocky shore. The sound of the waves crashing on the shingle and the seaside smell made us smile. The hotel, campsite, most restaurants, canoe hire, cafes and beach side bars were closed and there was hardly anyone in sight. The peace was wonderful! After walking along the pebble beach for a while we found a restaurant that opened on Fridays and weekends. We had a glass of wine and decided to return later when they'd be cooking pizza in the authentic woodfired oven!Read more