Thursday, July 27, 2006

FANO (parts II & III): The Jersey Shore of the Le Marche region (and that's not necessarily a bad thing)

SCREAMING KIDS, NAGGING PEDDLERS, wafts of fried food and the obnoxious horn and calls advertising fresh cut coconut are all part of the experience at the Fano beach.

The shallow water that remains at knee level for about a quarter of a mile makes it an ideal beach for kids and people who fear the depths of unknown seawater.

For only 6 euros anyone can rent a lounge chair at one of the various beach sections. The adjustable sun shield on top of the chairs makes the fee seem worthwhile in the long run compared to the price of wrinkle reducing Botox.

To stock up on beach gear there are shops along the beach nestled among endless restaurants and gelaterias. Homesick American’s can find refuge at the Beach Burger, a fast food hamburger joint with a fluorescent and turquoise based décor reminiscent of The Max restaurant from Saved by the Bell.

You expect to see Zack, Slater, Kelly, Jessie, Lisa and Screech sitting at the next table.

A little farther off the main sidewalk is an excellent Spanish restaurant, Buena Siesta. They serve various salads and piadine – flat bread – sandwiches. A basket of chewy hot piadine is served with every salad and is tasty enough (to us at least) to motivate a return trip from the previous year.

If for no other reason, a visit to Fano is worthwhile for the people watching alone. We noted that Fano’s boardwalk was unlike the popular beach towns in Le Marche in that it’s as busy during the prime beach hours as it is at night.

Sitting at a café along the boardwalk is like watching a runway show. As the sun sets, men’s gold chains and Speedos are exchanged for wife beaters and skintight jeans. Scandalous bikinis are replaced with skanky mini skirts and midriff revealing tops.

I was only slightly skeeved out by the man who was hanging out his hotel window, paparazzi zoom lens camera in hand snapping away at the passing nightlife below.

Who could blame him?

Some of the outfits that we saw preteens wearing as they walked along the boardwalk would put Tara Reid to shame. The outrageous clothes, excessive makeup, gold jewelry made us all agree that Fano is essentially the “Jersey Shore” of Le Marche.

If you want to get away from the younger crowds, loud music and bars, follow the signs to “Centro.” This offers a more relaxing setting for a night with low-key bars and excellent restaurants with outdoor seating. During the day and early evening, there are a wide variety of clothing shops and cafes.

- Philly Petronis

THE BEACH AT FANO IS definitely good for people watching.

The first people I see are twin boys eating cherries on Lido Due, one of Fano’s three beaches. They look about eight and are full of energy. I watch as they toss cherries in their mouths and then spit the seeds into their very tolerant grandpa’s hand.

The two main beaches are called Lido Uno and Lido Due. The third, called Bagni Arzilla, is further down, away from the main boardwalk. Bagni Arzilla is a secret to me until I decide to walk down to the end of the beach, about a fifteen-minute walk.

It’s immediately obvious that this beach is where the young people go. The crowd seems to be mostly people in their 20’s or 30’s and the scene is very active. There are several people playing volleyball. Some people are having a water gun fight. Other boys are on a court that looks similar to a tennis court but they are playing a game that involves kicking a ball or heading it back and forth over a net.

Among the crowd are also several young men tanning their already quite dark and hairless bodies. Their hair is gelled and they sport trendy Speedos. They appear to be what we would call metrosexuals.

Fano is an experience so relaxing that you can lay down at this public beach wearing next to nothing and fall peacefully asleep as if in the comforts of your own home. I definitely recommend it.

Fano is a vacation spot for Europeans, especially Italians, and that adds to the character of the place.

There are several hotels along the beach too.

The hotel closest to the Bagni Arzilla is Hotel Excelsior with rooms as cheap as 45 Euro a night. It’s the cheapest of the three I investigate and the desk assistant at the Excelsior speaks English - which is not always common in Le Marche. If I visit Fano again, I’ll stay here because of it’s location, price and English-speaking employees. It reminds me of a hotel that you might find on the Jersey shore that caters to young people.

Right on the boardwalk, the Astoria Hotel is bigger, fancier and has balconies that look out to the beach. For this reason, the rates start at 65 Euro for a room. This hotel would be the ideal choice for a well-off family to spend a luxurious holiday at the beach.

There’s also a hotel called the Hotel Orfeo, located in a shopping strip. Their rooms are 60 Euro for a room - kind of pricey for a mediocre hotel that’s a good distance from the beach.

We stayed there out of fear that we wouldn’t find something closer to the beach. But it’s a tourist trap and should be utilized only as a last resort, in my opinion. It is empty and poorly decorated and the rates are too high for a hotel so far removed from the attractions.

There is a curfew at many of the hotels but the desk clerks are sometimes lenient, letting you take the key and coming home at any time you want. Remember to lock the door behind you though.

I can just see the desk clerk in the morning yelling at us, “Didn’t I tell you to turn off the lights when you get in?”

“It’s like being at home,” Ann says.

- Caitlyn Slivinski

EDITOR'S NOTE: The second image, the one of the guy in the Speedo, was not taken in Fano. We are short on Fano images. This gentleman was photographed in Portonovo.

But we had to find some way to get his picture online.

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