I remember the day like it was yesterday. With my passport in hand, I boarded the plane at Logan International Airport, anxious and excited all at the same time. I didn’t know what to expect when I landed, nor did I have the slightest inkling the deep impression studying abroad in Italy would leave on me.
When I landed in Rome at Fiumicino International Airport (FCO), it was the first time I can recall seeing a shuttle bus on the tarmac waiting for us to disembark the plane. After dealing with immigration and passport control, followed by customs, we made our way to the airport exit and boarded a coach bus (una corriera) heading to our final destination.
The ride from the airport to Lido was pretty uneventful – as I struggled to keep my eyes open, the only businesses I remember seeing along the way were the interspersed gas stations (i distributori di benzina) and rest stops. I had no knowledge of Italian at the time and since Agip was the name that appeared on all the gas stations we passed, I just assumed that may have been Italian for the gas station (it wasn’t of course). It became obvious to me during this ride that while there may have been nothing else around, you could always take comfort in finding somewhere to grab an espresso. Suffice to say no amount of caffeine that day could help me fight the jetlag, but the part of me that couldn’t bear missing the first glimpse of our final destination was determined to stay awake.
While the bus ride seemed almost as long as the flight, you can imagine the feeling of relief when I finally arrived in Lido di Camaiore – the place I would call home for my first 3 weeks in Italy.
Lido di Camaiore (or “Lido”) is a seaside resort town located along the Tuscan Mediterranean coast in the province of Lucca. The nearest metropolitan city – Florence, is approximately 100 km (or just over 1 hour’s drive away with little to no traffic and 2 hours by train). The nearest train station (Camaiore Lido Capezzano on the regional train line) is approximately 5 minutes drive (or 25 minutes walk) from Lido’s town center. Oh, and I almost failed to mention that both Pisa and Lucca are approximately 30 km (about 35 minutes) away by car or train. All this makes Lido an attractive destination for a day trip during the summer.
The town itself displays a neighborhood of villas, gardens and parks and there are tons of outdoor sports activities to partake in – such as sailing, tennis, renting a pedal boat for a relaxing ride on the water, and biking to name a few. You can actually bike anywhere fairly easily and safely and there is also a bike path that conveniently runs along the seaside boulevard (I’ve included some links at the end if you’d like to check out some of the local bike rental options).
On my first evening in Lido, the program arranged for a “practical tour”. This walking tour took us from our hotel in Lido to one of the neighboring towns – Viareggio and was about a 40-minute walk each way. It didn’t seem that long though – the time passed quickly as I was taking in the scenery, making a mental note of where the closest post office, bank, and bike rentals were, and also getting to know my classmates. I marveled at the sizes of automobiles as I walked by them. They seemed so much smaller in Italy than in the US. The one that fascinated me the most had only one seat, one center tire in front, and two tires in the rear (one on the right side and one on the left). I thought to myself what could this possibly transport? I soon realized the answer was pretty much any and everything that it could fit – from construction materials to fruits and vegetables, to farming tools, and sometimes another person.
We ended the evening with cocktails at the beach, a few blocks over from our hotel, and mingled with the locals. Most of my interactions with the locals usually involved motioning of hands in an attempt to explain what I wanted to say, but didn’t know how to say in Italian (at the time). Over the course of my stay in Lido, I replaced the motioning of hands with the words I learned in my Italian language class. By no means was it enough to carry on a full conversation, but at the very least I learned essentials such as – how to ask where the bathroom was located, how to order something to eat/drink, how to ask the price of something, how to tell someone my name, phrases like – good-morning, hello/good-bye, and thank you, and the two most essential phrases (in my book at least) – “Do you speak English?” and “I speak very little Italian!”
During the week, my mornings consisted of an intensive Italian language class at one of the local public-school buildings located within walking distance of our hotel. We walked everywhere, and for the most part, everything was within walking distance – which made moving around Lido and visiting the neighboring towns quite convenient. By noon, I was free to explore on my own or participate in one of the afternoon activities which were carefully chosen and thoughtfully organized by the program directors, and boy did I take full advantage…
Bike Rentals in Lido di Camaiore
Green Planet Bike (https://greenplanetbike.it/content/10-noleggio-biciclette-versilia-viareggio-lido-di-camaiore)
CCT Bike Rental (https://www.cctbikerental.com/rentals/lido-dei-camaiore/) – minimum rental is 3 days and they offer a drop off at your location.
Versilia eBike* (https://versiliaebike.business.site/)
Burlanolo Di Francesconi Massimiliano* (http://www.burlanolo.it/)
*Located in the neighboring town of Pietrasanta or Viareggio. One town over in Forte Dei Marmi, you will find an even larger selection of bike rentals.
3 thoughts on “How a seaside getaway became the perfect introduction to a new country – Part 1”
Okay let’s just say I was transported to Italy while reading. Everytime I would hear about Italy..I was only familiar with Florence. I know, I have to do better. However, as a biker myself Lido seems like the perfect place to visit or even live. 1. The convenience and 2.the activities that are a BIKE away. Sorry uber, I no longer need you lol. But honestly, Lido sounds great! To add, I think it’s so beneficial, like you stated to learn the basics of a language when visiting another country. In this case it was Italy, but im pretty sure it was so helpful during you stay. You mentioned that you were jet legged when you landed. As a New Yorker,what is the time difference?
Hi Jalyce! Thanks for sharing – sounds like you’re ready to explore Lido for yourself 🙂
Generally speaking, Italy is 6 hours ahead of New York. I say generally speaking because there are a few days around daylight savings time in the spring and fall when they are only 5 hours ahead of New York.