Beach Town of the Month: Cupra MarittimaJonathan Zeiger
I remember the first time I saw the coast of the Marvelous Marche. It was June 2011, and I was on a bus from Rome to some place I’d never heard of before, to a world completely unknown. I didn’t speak a word of Italian, nor did I know anyone where I was going. No cell phone, only my wits about me. With me I had my laptop, a few books and some clothes, all stuffed into my dad’s old hiking pack. This was certainly the biggest leap I’d ever taken.
The bus was taking me to Cupra Marittima, where some Dutch guy named Hans was supposed to pick me up to go work on his farm, Lavanda Blu. The Italian countryside rolled out ahead of me like a fresh set of green waves. After 2 or 3 hours on the Roma Marche Linee bus line (only 14€, the best way to get there if you’re flying into Rome), the sea appeared, opening wide out of the valleys and foothills. The sun setting behind the mountains in the west gave a charming glow to the cities under the super strada, the Adriatic Sea just beyond. I had a good feeling about this place.
One thing I distinctly remember while on the bus ride up the coast, one of my first impressions of this new place- 2 Italian men arguing on the side of the road. Car trouble I assumed. I sat there trying to imagine just what the hell they were saying to each other- “Hey you fucking idiot are stupid or something”? “Ehh don’t give me that, you cut me off”! “Mehhhh” “Ehhhh” Vespucci! Bibbity Boppity! No idea. It was still another 2 years before I started my first Italian lessons. I’d have to keep imagining what people were saying. It was exciting, really, getting lost in this place without prior knowledge of, well, anything.
The bus finally made it to La Piazza della Liberta Cupra Marittima. As I hopped off into a courtyard surrounded by yellow buildings, I looked around and said to myself, “Well, I hope I get picked up”. I set my pack down and took a seat on a nearby bench, soaking in the scene around me- the courtyard with its little shops, people drinking coffee at the sidewalk cafe, stairs across the street leading up to a church. Italy suddenly became very real.
Enough about me. Cupra Marittima, a Blue Flag Beach, sits in Ascoli Piceno, the southernmost province of the Marche. The town is the first segment of the Palm Tree Riviera (Riviera delle Palme). Thousands of palms line the beachfront from here all the way south to San Benedetto del Tronto. The climate also gives rise to evergreen shrubs, pines and oleanders, a harmonious mixture of tropical & sub-tropical flora, lending scents of an exotic seaside. Small, sandy beaches and a peaceful atmosphere provide for a relaxing family holiday.
Of course, if you’re in a beach town, you’re gonna wanna see the beach. Cupra, like much of the Marche, has soft, sandy beaches. The water is nice and warm during the summer, and with the rock jetties about 30 yards out, its great for a mellow swim or even a hike through the shallows.
Up and down the coast, you’ll find i bagni, sections of the beach connected to the seaside restaurants and hotels. A spot with 2 chairs and an umbrella can be rented for only a few euros.
Many Marche beaches are host to thousands of unbroken seashells. For all you beach combers wanting to peruse the sands for new additions to your collections, this is the spot for you. I’ve collected a few of my own over the years. In Cupra, they take pride in their Museo Malacologico, a museum completely dedicated to a massive seashell collection. It holds over 900,000 pieces, all sorts of sea treasures from giant bivalve shells to fossils from ages long past.
If you’re looking to be a little more active on your trip, a wide bike path runs through the resort and takes you down the coast to Grottamare and San Benedetto. That stretch in particular is 7.5 km (4.6 mi), but there’s nothing to keep you from extending your ride as far as you please. I took this ride myself once,starting back at Lavanda Blu, 12 km inland. When I hit the coast, it felt like I was cruising the PCH between Dana and San Clemente. Awesome route, I can’t wait to do that one again. Just 1 km inland (.62 mi) is the ancient hilltop village Cupra Alta (also called Marano), Roman-built, filled with medieval churches and the charm of life long past. Walking through those quiet streets really makes you feel like you went back in time. From Cupra Alta, you can enjoy a peaceful view overlooking the Riviera, the modern town and its small harbor. One thing all you history buffs & castle enthusiasts won’t want to miss, the ruins of the 13th century castle of Sant’Andrea, telling the story of a medieval population who fled the sea to escape barbarian invasions.
If you want to go even further back in time, you can check out the Roman sites in the Area Archeologica del Ninfeo Romano. There’ll you’ll find the Archaeological Park, one of many across the region, giving a glimpse of ancient Rome’s influence on the area. Here you can see the site of the Roman town, with its forum, a temple of Venus, a villa with nymphaeum and baths with late-Imperial mosaics. These are but a small testament to the desirability of the fertile land throughout the ages.
Cupra is but one of many awesome little towns awaiting your discovery. Join me as I adventure through these wondrous lands, and find your perfect holiday in the Marvelous Marche! For more information, write me! email@example.com