Sperlonga, Italy – it is said that this small town on the coast of Italy is a mini-Almalfi Coast. Sperlonga is, even for Italians, a place of serendipity and relaxation. The town is not as big as some of the other towns I’ve been to, but it packs a punch.
The coast is beautiful in Sperlonga. My friends and I went when it was cloudy, but still managed to snap some terrific pictures. We traversed the hill, climbed to different heights, and explored ancient caves.
We saw restaurants that wanted to charge us an arm and a leg for seafood, even during the off-season. After deciding the price was too steep, we stopped at a local market for food. The day trip only cost 40 Euro, most of which went to Trenitalia.
When I say the beginning of the day set the tone for the day, I’m not kidding either.
Apartments and hotels crowd the shore, stray cats run free, and the beaches are littered with trash. Its low tide and I’m walking along the shore looking for a shell, a souvenir, to remember the trip. In my search for that perfect shell, I ran into the beach, just a little too far.
At first I didn’t understand the damage done to my shoes and pants. I looked down to find that my shoes were submerged in three inches of water, my socks were soaked to the bone, and my pants had collected enough sand and water to crown it a beach.
I stripped off my socks and shoes to shake everything free. When this happened, it was only 12:30 p.m. I handed the shell I had been trying to wash off in warm, salty, Mediterranean Sea to my friend, who said the shell I picked up was fake, Plastic in fact. Go figure.
Despite the horrible start, I trudged on. We picked the most sour oranges I’d had in my life from this orange tree on the side of the road. The three of us grabbed an orange and peeled it. Expecting the sweet, acidic orange we’d normally find at the Emme Più here, we took a big bite. Boy was that a mistake. It tasted like I was drinking lemon and lime juice only rancid and bitter.
We walked around the edge of the coast and to this single, faceless concrete building at the very tip of the rocky coast. For a moment, my mind tricked me into thinking that I was on the coast of Cape Cod. Warm, radiant, and beautiful with a brisk cold wind is how I’d describe the atmosphere on the coast.
Later I found another shell I could claim as my prize, and so I went to the water to wash this one off. Only, I got too close again! This time, my sockless shoes got even wetter and my pants were soaked up to my knees. I decided to roll up my pants, and ditch the shoes all together, walking barefoot along this trash-laden beach. There were bottles, Styrofoam containers, shoes, sandals, beer bottles, and even a dead bird on the beach.
Once we got to the end of the beach, we started up on this granite pathway, which lead to the museum where the Grotta di Tiberio was. To get to the cave of Tiberio, we had to buy these tickets for five Euro. For that, we had access to a museum featuring granite statues of Poseidon and Ulysses and his crew stabbing out the eye of the Cyclops. It was graphic, but I wasn’t sure if these statues were real.
I walked maybe two and half miles over the course of two hours on pavement, grass, and gravel. The sticks cut up my feet and the gravel had me walking like I was balancing on a tightrope a hundred feet in the air
We made it to the cave and did a lot of exploring. We took pictures, fed the fish, and even got splashed by a wave that crashed into the stonewall. It reminded me of being splashed by a wave at Six Flags or Canobie Lake Park after getting off the Log Mountain ride. I always used that ride to cool off on a hot summer day. Anyway, that’s what it reminded me of.
So if you ever go to Sperlonga, please, please don’t do what I did. Do not try to wash your clamshell off in your regular shoes and socks. Take them off if you must clean the shell before you put it in your backpack or else you’ll wind up with wet shoes for ten miserable hours.