Summer in Italy
AT least half our readers will expect to read under this title about the Italian Lakes, or the Dolomites. Instead, I propose to write of bathing, for it is a subject that will more than fill my limited space.*
Mediterranean bathing is the best in the world : I can say that with some confidence, for I have tried Norwegian, French, Baltic, Japanese, Indian and Florida beaches. At Miami the sea is as lovely as the Mediterranean, but the water is so hot that it makes the eyes smart and stings the skin. The Baltic is green and brackish. France and Norway and England are too cold for those who have once tasted the glories of long hours in the sea and sunlight of Liguria or the Adriatic. and nowhere else is there quite the same combination of mountains, blue sea and shady forests. Bathing does not merely consist in plunging into the sea or sitting in the sun. There is the view, the climate, the food, the people to be considered—all the natural as well as the artificial amenities. Nowhere do so many factors combine to give the bather his' pleasure.
As to the cost : Italian seaside hotels are cheap. True, if you choose the Excelsior at the Lido you will probably have to pay about £2 a day, but it is perfectly possible, and indeed extremely wise to live for 12s. a day, all found, at even the most fashionable beaches in Italy. Anyone who 13ays more is seeing not Italy but Cosmopolis. At smaller places the cost is less than that at Venice, Viareggio, 13rioni, &c. At Portofino, Lerici, Fonte dei Marmi, or the smaller hotels and pensions round Santa Margherita or Rapallo, for instance, it is perfectly possible to live for from 8s. to 10s. a day had enjoy well-cooked if simple fare.
In Florence, from which I have just returned, I have been living at a pension where the cooking was as good: as any I have eaten anywhere in the world, for 35 lire or 7's. 6d. a day. At Vallombrosa I paid 8s. a day, and was also thoroughly satisfied. Of course, if one does not like Italian food and insists on an English breakfast; afternoon tea and a French dinner, both one's purse and one's digestion must pay the price. It is stupid not to live as- the Italians do, especially during the summer in Italy. One must get up early, have a light breakfast of coffee and rolls, lie .down after lunch for an hour, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. And where are salads better dressed, or wild-strawberries more delicious, or the dawns and evenings more enchanting ?
I think there is little doubt that there is an increasing tendency to seek Alpine snows in winter and Southern Seas in summer. From Alassio to Spezzia, every fishing village now caters for its regular summer visitors : few and precious are the places and beaches as yet undiscovered by the herd. Portofino, which was unknown except to the elect twenty years ago, now supports a large hotel (the Splendide) and several smaller ones (I can recommend- the Piccolo). Even Rapallo was little more than a village then. Now it is known all over the world (very rightly, although I cannot be expected to be glad of it myself) and I am told that last year there were far more English than any other nationality (even Italians) at the Excelsior Hotel there.
Summer bathing in Liguria, if one is careful about the sun at first, mixes water with one's Chianti, and takes reasonable quantities of food and exercise—is probably cheaper and more amusing, and certainly more instructive, than a holiday at home.
The journey from London to Rapallo is an easy one, although not as easy as it would be if there were a train from London to connect with the 3 p.m. from Paris, which lands you at Rapallo at 10.48 next morning. That train can only be reached by aeroplane or the overnight Havre route, unless of course a night is spent in Paris. Otherwise the best train leaves Victoria at 4 p.m. From Calais there are through coaches (first and second class) to Milan. Genoa is reached at 8 p.m., and Rapallo by dinner time. The return fares are £15 Os. 5d. first class and .11013s. 7d. second ; as compared with £23 10s. 5d. return by the luxe, which leaves London
at 9 a.m. and reaches Rapallo at 11.87 next morning. I travelled by the train de luxe last month, and it is of course delightful to have a compartment to oneself. But the Milan route is far more popular : I have been that way too, and can recommend it. The carriages are not at all crowded, except from Milan to Genoa, so that a comfortable night can be expected. F. Y.-B.
The Italian State Railways, 16 Waterloo Place, S.W. 1, publish an excellent brochure, Summer in Italy, giving full information about the Lakes and Alpine reports, as well as the sca-coast towns suitable for holidays.