Sunday, 24 May 2015


Marina Lobra
Last week I was asked by the local town council of Massa Lubrense to take part in a TV programme which the  RAI (Italian national TV) was filming in this area.
The producers had specifically asked for the participation of a long-standing or should I say "long in the tooth" expat, and it seems that the natural choice was me.
Had I known what it would have entailed, I might not have been so willing...
Vervece Rock
As my friends all know, I am not the best of sailors. Infact I only have to look at a boat bobbing up and down on the sea to feel queasy. That is probably why I am such a keen hiker. I like to keep my feet on the ground. 
I had mistakenly presumed that they would want me to walk a few trails and expound on the delights of this area. Wrong! The first 3 hours plus were on a boat. 
rounding Punta Campanella
We set off from Marina Lobra, Massa's harbour, aiming for the Vervece rock with its underwater shrine. An awful lot of time  was spent here filming some scuba divers from the local marine reserve. Luckily the captain of our boat kept it moving round and round the rock since it is at anchor that I have very little resistance. We then proceeeded to sail round Punta Campanella to the fantastically beautiful Bay of Jeranto and on to Marina del Cantone where we arrived mid-afternoon and famished.
Bay of Jeranto from above
Off the boat I felt a lot sicker than I had on it (unbeknown to me I was coming down with a virus). It was also very hot and after a quick lunch, we (the ex-pat, a student and a journalist) were positioned on the beach under the sun to be introduced to the future viewers of the programme. We then hung around for a while whilst the presenter interviewed a few of the sunbathers  and one of the local restaurants prepared a plate of our  famous local dish, spaghetti with zucchini. This was placed artistically on a table at the water's edge for us to admire and taste. At that point I was really not feeling very well at all and it took a super-human effort to force the pasta down and look appreciative.
Marina del Cantone
Back to the boat, back to Marina Lobra, into the cars and off to a local agriturismo for....cheese making and tasting. By then I was feeling so bad that the last thing I wanted to do was taste or smell anything, let alone cheese. First though we had to stroll through a lemon grove admiring the lemons hanging in their dozens from the branches. Jugs of freshly squeezed lemon juice in chilled water appeared as if by magic before we watched the cheese making. And of course then we had to taste it. At this point all I could do was pretend and pray that I didn't disgrace myself.
Meantime it was almost dark and time for us to  decide which aspect of Massa Lubrense was its main selling point: the territory, the food and local produce or the hospitality.
This for me was a no-brainer.  Its territory is what makes it unique. The fact that there are many excellent restaurants, ranging from the well-known Michelin-starred to the more humble trattorias, delicious home-grown  produce and a vast variety of hotels, B&Bs and agriturismi is of course a plus. For me however it is Massa's perfect combination of sea and countryside, blues and greens, combined with its profound historical origins that make it what it is: an ideal place for nature lovers and sea lovers alike, for those who are happy on boats and for those who, like me, prefer to keep  their feet firmly on the ground.

For anyone interested, the programme "Sereno Variabile" will be on air on RAI2 on 14th June at lunchtime. If I look a little jaded by the end, you now know why!

photo of the Vervece by courtesy of


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