| Destination Central
Senigallia's Spiaggia di Velluto
Story and photos by Tom Weber
he tan lines are already fading, but I earned those "stripes"
during a relaxing week at the seaside resort and port city of Senigallia
in the Marche region along Italy's Adriatic coast. There, I enjoyed
seven laid-back days of early morning rises and late night turn-ins
with plenty of great food sandwiched in between.
Noted for its kilometers-long Spiaggia di Velluto
(Velvet Beach), sporting the Foundation for Environmental Education's
(FEE) coveted Blue
Flag certification, Senigallia was the perfect destination for me
to experience firsthand the joys of a true Italian seaside vacation
and the therapeutic values of saltwater, sun and la cucina Marchegiana
(regional cuisine of the Marche).
Granted, I spent the bulk of my settimana al mare
barefoot in the velvety sand, but, when not basting my body with SPF
50+, and, to my surprise, I discovered an entirely different view just
behind the boardwalk where ancient cobblestone transitions this popular
seaside resort back to its historical roots.
Founded around 385 BC as Sena Gallica (Old Gaul) by
the Senones, a Gallic tribe, the city fell under the Roman Republic
when sandal-clad legions marched in, defeated the grubby Gauls in 295
BC and established Senigallia as its first colony along the Adriatic
Over the ensuing centuries, Senigallia, where hillsides
covered in grapevines and sunflowers roll down to the Adriatic Sea,
was either conquered, destroyed or rebuilt by, among others, the Byzantines,
the Lombards and the Saracens before settling in as part of the Papal
States until Garibaldi's "land grab" united all of Italy in
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Around the centro storico (historic center),
Senigallia's rich past unfolds with expertly restored ancient structures,
like the Roca Roveresca Fortress and the ancient Roman Foro Annonario
and its oval piazza. Doubling as the city's daily open-air produce market,
the Foro is dotted with shops and under-the-colonnades restaurants.
The Port and Fish Market
On a bike or via flip-flops, take in the large port
of Senigallia, crossing over its small bridges to the breakwaters along
the seafront, meandering around the moored leisure craft in the front
harbor to a smaller harbor in the back where a fresh fish market unfolds
daily at the crack of dawn.
Rotonda a Mare
Back along the lungomare (boardwalk), continue
your walk/ride past numerous bagni (beach clubs) down to the impressive
Rotonda a Mare, a unique piece of 19th century architecture that was
uprooted once and completely renovated thrice. The rotunda fronts the
busy Piazza della Penna, where street artists perform nightly.
No matter where you turn in Senigallia, locals touch
glasses in Cin Cin fashion filled with chilled white Verdicchio,
THE wine of the Marche region. Nothing on earth compliments the tasty
and abundant regional cuisine like its revered grape. And the best place
to sample this vintage, in all its iterations, is at Enoteca Galli in
Senigallia's historic center.
No fees are charged for a descriptive and lengthy tasting
session, and you're under no obligation to purchase. Guido, the son
of owner Umberto, was the sommelier on duty and uncorked five bottles
for tasting before I finally waived a white hanky and pleaded BASTA!
Still upright when I left the enoteca,
I did purchase a carton each (6 bottles per) of the five Verdicchio
that I sampled, and they were delivered to my hotel the next morning
before I headed home. Now, that's service.
For more information on Enoteca Galli, visit its website
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Turistica Just a block over from
the hustle and bustle of the boardwalk and its velvety-sand beach sits
the second most popular family-friendly hotel in all of Senigallia.
According to TripAdvisor, actual vacationers who have made Senigallia
their summertime destination return to the Turistica again and again.
A comfortable establishment, the three-star rated, 59-room,
renovated mid-rise Turistica has a time-tested reputation of delivering
high-quality service at affordable rates. A seven-night, single-room
stay, with full board option (beverages not included), costs about 560€,
or just 80€ a day during the peak season.
For its highly competitive prices, the Turistica delivers
comfortable, squeaky-clean air-conditioned rooms in an array of single,
double and family-size layouts with balconies, private baths, flat-screen
satellite TVs and in-room safes.
There's also complimentary parking, WIFI access, use
of the hotel's stable of bicycles, and, a reciprocal arrangement with
one of the private bagni (beach clubs) for hotel guests and use
of all of its amenities.
And, I've saved the best reason of all for last: Turistica's
incredible three-course lunch and dinner menus part of the full-board
package prepared daily by executive chef, sommelier, professor
of culinary arts and author, Luca Santini. His creative Marchegiana-style
kitchen alone will have you booking the Turistica when you decide to
sample the Riviera Adriatica.
If you really want to go native and experience a true
Italian beach vacation just like gli italiani, then pick surprising
Senigallia and its Spiaggia di Velluto as your destination and
the Hotel Turistica to hang your hat, fork and wine glass.
For complete information on the Turistica, visit
the hotel's English language website.
For all-things Senigallia, visit
the city's official Office of Tourism site.
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