Thirty odd minutes from Rimini, less if you're traveling with a South African driver, is the small medieval village of Fiorenzuola di Focara. Perched on a cliff about 200 meters above sea level, in the San Bartolo Park, Fiorenzuola was originally a Roman settlement – a strategic outpost along the Adriatic coast. The name was changed to Fiorenzuola di Focara in 1889, possibly something to do with the furnaces for baking bricks or fires used for beacon signalling.
The town is also famous for being mentioned by Dante in his journey to Hell. I suspect the poor fool walked down to the beach in heavy robes, in the middle of summer and nearly expired on the climb back to the top. In fact, it was probably that climb which inspired his writing. Dante's hellish trip aside, our plan, in brief, was a simple one; fill a cooler box with food and drink, take it down the hill, find a suitable campsite, have a swim, light a fire, eat some food, sleep, watch the sun rise and climb back up Dante's bloody hill.
First, you might be asking yourself why on earth these crazy bastards are lugging a whole pile of crap down to the beach for just one night. Especially when they live ten minutes walk from the beach anyway.
Well, here's the answer:
During summer, Italian beaches become a mathematicians wet dream. Here beach keepers are required to have advanced degrees in applied mathematics and are issued with rakes and rulers. When the rubbish is raked in the morning, umbrellas and deck chairs must also be arranged in geometric perfection for the tourist hordes – that way they can charge you to sit on the beach and also sell you ridiculosly expensive drinks.
Spiaggia di Fiorenzuola, however, looks somewhat different:
The Italians describe this as an 'unequipped' beach. That is except for the stinky porter potties (just ask the girls), running water and lifeguards.
We arrived late in the afternoon and while Chris waited for parking close, I piloted our cooler box down the 200m, zig-zagging road. I was without breaks, and narrowly missed a couple of rogue toddlers on the way to the bottom. The little creatures seemed to appear out of nowhere, and mostly on tight bends. Forcing me to swerve widely toward the edge of the cliff, narrowly escaping grievous bodily harm myself.
At the bottom, I waited with the cooler while the girls found a suitable place to camp:
The beach is wonderful and unspoilt, and the lack of geometry replaced by the wild beauty of the coast –– there are no umbrellas, no beds, no bars, no tourists. We played frisbee for a while, although anybody watching would have thought we were a troop of butterfingered monkeys.
Just as well the place was near deserted by the time we started launching our disc in all directions!
Having survived a round of crazy frisbee, Chris and I set about gathering driftwood to make a fire. We figured getting the fire going early would scare off the giant tiger mosquitos the locals were complaining had migrated here from Africa. Yes, even the mosquitos are claiming refugee status here on the Boot.
While the fire burned to make coals for toast and macaroni cheez (the vegan barbecue alternative), the monkeys pulled faces: Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Do No Evil.
We heated vegan mac and cheese with toast - nothing Italian or African about this meal.
Fortunately, Chris had brought along vegan salami, which unfortunately turned out to be a meat alternative created by the people at NASA. It tasted like artificial tomatoes and if solar radiation doesn't kill the poor bastard on the Mars mission, this 'meat' certainly will. At least that was The Daughters opinion. The rest of us devoured it with salad and Tahini.
Ever the creative camper, The Daughter created melted chocolate toast for the Mars mission.
Dawn Patrol - Courtney making our morning fire, too bad we forgot the coffee.
Five thirty, sunrise over the Adriatic Sea.
Around 7.30 am, just about where Chris and I slept the night before.
Morning beachercise routine, Human Xs.
Sometime around 9 am, hot, sticky and exhausted, we climbed Dante's Hell hill in search of coffee.