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La Dolce Vita - George Keeling

Blog post   •   Jul 06, 2013 10:11 BST

La Dolce Vita

As we sat with our gelati under the logia on the Piazza del Comune we agreed how different the town was from what we expected. When Mussolini succeeded, where emperors and popes had failed, in draining the Pontine marshes he left little on the edge of his new town to remind us of his achievement. As we walked through the peaceful path of what is now a nature reserve we anticipated that there’d be a military ring to the march of our boots as we made our way into Sabaudia.

Instead we found a 1930’s town built on a humane and generous scale, beside a large lake, which in turn borders onto the sea. The beach is easily reached across the modern bridge close to the sanctuary which was built in the 6th century on the remains of a Roman Villa.

It was so like a Fellini film set that I half expected to see Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni come and sit at the table next to ours.

From where we were we could see the travertine and brick faced town hall which closes the square. Lightly attached to it is the tower complete with a balcony from which rallies could be addressed. From its eighth floor terrace there are magnificent views of the town and its setting. When later we walked up to the town hall we discovered a broad street, practically a square, leading to the church of the Annunciation. Above its door is a mosaic with Mary and the Angel set against a background of the town of Sabaudia complete with Il Duce helping with the harvesting of crops from the newly reclaimed fields.

It had been a full day. That morning we’d walked on Monte Circeo with broad views of sea and plains before pausing for lunch in the delightful old town of San Felice. Pictures of the strikingly modernist Post Office show a lively bright blue walled building with an amazing external staircase. I could regret that we had no time to find it, but to eat ice cream in such a setting is a joy to be savoured.


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