Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lido Life


Summer in southern Italy means beaches.  

But in this sprawling metropolis, it's hard to find a beach that's free and open to the public.  Instead, a private company owns a strip of beach.  Although the Lidos can be somewhat expensive and burgeon with people on the weekends, they can also feel luxurious.

Lidos line the shore from the seaside town of Castel Volturno all the way down to Lago Patria and beyond.  To name them all would take a decade.

Driving along the road, once you select a Lido (we do it randomly), a parking attendant directs you to a small lot.  The procedure for entering a Lido tends to be the same everywhere.  You pay an all-day fee at the front gate and then walk into an espresso bar replete with caffe, sodas, candy, and gelato.  They also have a cafeteria.  You forge ahead to the promenade and give a beach attendant your ticket.  He picks up an umbrella and chairs (which you pay for extra at the front gate) and you select a sandy plot.  He then sets you up.

To avoid the bumper to bumper Lido traffic, arrive close to 10am and leave at 2pm.  At those hours, you'll have your choice of parking and beach space.  If you head for the beach at noon and leave at 4pm, the traffic will be intense and the beach will be crowded.

Lidos often have playgrounds for kids and delicious cafeteria food with panini, spaghetti, mozzarella balls, and other hot primi, secondi, and contorni piatti.  It's delicious, though a bit pricey, but well worth the experience.

La Cucina Napoletana:  A panini is as simple as lying on the beach.  At the Lido cafeterias, I always order a Panini with Roasted Bell Peppers.  They simply stuff a french roll with bell peppers that have been roasted and then basted in olive oil.  You can try this at home by roasting some bell peppers of your choice in the oven, letting them cool and cutting them into slices.  Then add a generous amount of olive oil.  Next, stuff them into a sandwich and eat without condiments.

Happy Summer Fun!

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