Winter beach

December 12, 2012 / Food & Wine
Fregene, Lazio
No takers. Given the freezing northerly wind, no friends were interested in coming along. “With the Tramontana blowing, why go? what for?” they must have thought.

Sure enough, the beach was in deep freeze, literally and figuratively. December through February is when most beach station owners go on vacation. Yet you’re so used to experiencing the place in all its summer, sun oil, ice cream and screaming kid splendor that you can almost hear the cabana boys beaching the patrons and see the bathing suited back and forth. The colors were right, (Tramontana days are sunny as can be), the setting was right, except all the people were missing.

Granted, it really was cold. Scarved and hooded up, there wasn’t anything else to do after barely managing a walk on the beach, gotta give it to the friends. Except for one thing…

The villaggio dei pescatori (fisherman’s village) just outside of Fregene, was for many years a non-zoned strip of sand sandwiched between a dead-end and an estuary of no note. Basically a no man’s land upon which migrant fishermen in the ’50s through the ’70s built their seasonal shacks out of corrugated tin and sea-drifted rot wood. Nowadays, the shacks are gone, replaced by not much nicer concrete cottages used by Romans when the place fills up in summer and its beach stations are full-steam.

Sure enough, the owners of one of these stations was at his place doing some off-season maintenance. He also happened to have his kitchen open.

Left to ourselves while he checked on our food between hammer banging sorties outside, the meal was memorable given the context, yet the food (spigola ai ferri and mazzancolle) was only just ok. Except for the moscardini

…oh my the moscardini.

Silly, silly friends.


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

13 Responses to “Winter beach”

  1. good for you! i would have joined you ! even w/o moscardini !
    but today is guadalupe dance at Jaimez (pron. hamez) indian pueblo in the mountains an hour (and 1000 feet above) albuquerque (5400 ft.) . i dont expect moscardini but green chile will be abundant and heart warming !

  2. Pat Carney Ceccarelli
    Pat Carney Ceccarelli

    Hi Mott! Hi GB, I would have joined either one of you! Beach combing is great and I hardly ever miss a day at Baattibay or Rimigliano in the winter when I am in Tuscany and I would love to be in Alburquerque dancing! Greetings to all!

  3. trionfale

    for sure! our favorite nearby haunt in the off-off-season. winter picnics on the beach are grand and the cottage we park ourselves at in the summer is hardly “not much nicer concrete” but rather white-washed, tiled, mediterranean airy and cool,with a roof terrace perfect for those aperitivi while the sun sets into the sea….and there are many like it for lease.

  4. GB thanks for sharing this piece.
    The beach,the ocean never sleep. Lovers,dreamers eternal wanderers seeking adventure have no doubt strolled just as curiously these spots. For the many who dared not wind to brave, staying at home they saw nothing more than the same.

    Your memories, photos and meal could not be found on TV but only here in Italian Notebook. They are eternal.

    Thanks for the gift.

  5. Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    So perhaps I’m not alone in preferring a winter beach to a summer one… at least sometimes. Thanks GB for bringing a little sand and salt air into our lives with this note.

  6. Beaches in the winter months can be magical and more so without the masses of people. I will be spending Christmas with 2 daughters at the beach! Unique and a first.

  7. Colleen Simpson

    GB: Thanks so much for this great note! I would have been with you in a minute. I love the Italian beaches in winter with their very special charm and magic. When we are visiting in the Pacific Northwest near Seattle, our favorite place to be is at the beach during a winter storm! Again, thanks for bringing the sand, the sea and best of all the moscardini to us this day.

  8. Aaaah. The winter beach. I remember them so well in Naples when they were abandoned and to walk alone as a woman through the Lido’s wasn’t particularly safe.

    But I’m in San Diego right now and I just took a nice stroll along La Jolla Cove where all the beaches and oceans are unzoned and in the middle of December it’s a breezy 23C. Sometimes…. but ONLY sometimes, Italy’s charm may be surpassed. :)

  9. francesco costa

    stupidi davvero questi amici a perdersi l’occasione di una cos√¨ suggestiva passeggiata! io ci sarei venuto molto volentieri per godermi quella luce magica, da inizio del mondo, e l’invitante frittura che vedo nel piatto, ma in questi giorni di gelo sono impigliato come un pesce in una rete dentro l’ultimo capitolo del mio romanzo! che pezzo fantastico hai scritto, caro gb, e le tue fotografie mi hanno fatto sognare! vivissimi complimenti, da scrittore a scrittore, e un caldo abbraccio dal tuo vicino di casa, f.

  10. Anita

    GB_ Nice that your bravery in facing the winter wind was rewarded with great moscardini complemented by a satisfied feeling of smugness towards those silly friends… I prefer winter at a deserted beach to summer crowds anytime!

  11. hi pat !
    wonderful day at jemez pueblo, and wonderful people!
    no moscardini but great dancing and friends!
    happy winter!

  12. David Bridges

    The best seafood my wife and I have ever had was on a windy day in late December many years ago in that very same region of beach! Wow! We were not aware of the great seafood of Italians and that experience has stayed with us over the years. Bravo!


Leave a Reply