It was my last day in Rome and, after three full days of walking around possibly every well-known area, I was in desperate need of some relaxation. During my dinner on Day 3, my new friends provided me with ideas of how to spend my day: renting a car and driving to a nearby town, taking a train ride up to Cinque Terre, or even heading to the spa. While all of these options definitely sounded great, several setbacks got in the way. If I wanted to rent a car, I would have to both reserve a car on the same day, as well as get to the airport to retrieve it. It didn't help that the majority of the cars available were stick shift. Traveling up to Cinque Terre wouldn't work given the three hours I'd need both ways to get there and back. And I'd reached the point of giving up by the time I thought about finding a spa.
After weighing these options for the better part of my morning, I settled on a beach destination that was suggested to me, Singita Miracle Beach. I'm never one to turn down warm sands and relaxing along a coast, so after mapping out my route to get there, I set out for a relaxing day at the beach. Getting there required me to take a bus through Trastevere to a nearby train station where I would then take a train to Fregenae ("Fregene" in Italian), a remote beach town just outside of Rome. I had to be resourceful and go to the information booth on the main road for a bus ticket, figuring out which bus would take me west towards the train station, then figuring out which train to take to get there (at least an hour's time), and by the time I'd arrived at the right platform, I learned that my train wouldn't be arriving for another two hours!! But I wanted this day to be relaxing, so I quietly read a book as several trains arrived and departed with passengers taking them to distant towns whose names I struggled to pronounce.
Many pages and snacks later, I was finally able to board my train and arrived at the Fregenae train station 30 minutes later. My journey still wasn't complete, as I had to take a shuttle to a stop that was near the beach. But I needed a different kind of bus ticket in order to ride the shuttle. Seeing that I was in this predicament, one of the passengers was kind enough to let me use one of his compatible shuttle tickets. With that out of the way, we set off for the beach!
Fregenae is a quiet, mostly residential beach town on the west side of the Italian coast. After being dropped off at the bus stop, I had to walk an additional 15 minutes to my destination. I walked the residential streets, taking time to fully immerse myself in the moment sans photos (surprisingly easy to accomplish). Once arriving at the main road towards the beach, the quiet environment slowly increased in volume as luxury cars filled with young Italians passed by anticipating their beach destination.
After arriving to the beach, it became apparent that I was no longer in an environment that catered to my needs. The need to communicate in my native language. The need to feel included while visiting a place others call home. The need to have everything my way - a stereotype most people from the Western hemisphere have upheld. And I was perfectly fine with that. The beach was a posh paradise. When entering the beach area, there was a bar directly ahead serving every kind of cocktail imaginable. Tanned and slender men and women traipsed around in their best swimwear, laughing and carrying on. Electronic music pumped loud from a nearby speaker system. A group of friends brought their personal cooler and set up a volleyball net as the sun beamed down on the seaside paradise. After picking out my spot on the sand and finally exposing my skin to pure Vitamin D, the entire journey to Singita felt well worth it.
I'd only been lounging for about an hour when I realized the sun's rays would no longer serve their purpose in helping me complete my summer tan. Plus, I was long past due for a meal. Since the beach bar only served drinks, I decided to pack up my things and visit a nearby restaurant for dinner. After receiving the menu, I realized how much I'd relied on English translations to describe what foods were offered. Even the 10 Italian words I knew to use at restaurants weren't helping me now. I managed to struggle through a conversation with my waitress before ordering the familiar spaghetti with mussels.
After such a long day, I knew getting home by following my route back to the bus stop and train station wouldn't ease my nerves any, so I ordered a taxi through the My Taxi app. I'm still so thankful that there happened to be a 50% off discount that night! Eventually I made it back home, where I was able to pack and get ready for the final part of my Italian adventure...FLORENCE.