A town in central Italy located on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Primarily a resort/fishing town it was captured by the Romans in 341 bc and became a favorite spa. Both Nero and Caligula were born there...maybe it was something in the water.

During World War II, Allied troops landed (Jan. 1944) at Anzio and nearby Nettuno to draw German forces from Cassino, thus effecting a breakthrough (May 1944) to Rome.

see When The Tigers Broke Free

Apartment bookings are down 50% on the Lazio coast this year, apparently. The Guardia di Finanza have been raiding the private beaches for tax evasion, too. But the bagnino seems cheerful enough as he warns us where the currents are.

The best bakery is down the alley to the right of the church. Take a ticket, and you probably have time to get a coffee at the cafe next door before you get served, where there's always a Le Monde on the table if you want to try and find out stuff that the locked-down media of Berlusconi's Italy isn't talking about.

It's not a resort for foreigners; they came through 70 years ago and not many came back. Send the family to the apartment for the whole of August, or commute back and forwards from Rome, however you work it. See the bagnino, rent a beach umbrella and a couple of deckchairs. Say hallo to the neighbours. The sempiternal Italian seaside summer settles into a rhythm that has a melancholy all its own. Moravia wrote it in Agostino. Fabrizio de André sang it in Rimini:

Teresa ha gli occhi secchi
guarda verso il mare
per lei figlia di pirati
penso che sia normale.

Teresa parla poco
ha labbra screpolate
mi indica un amore perso
a Rimini d'estate.

At the end of the street there is a statue, erected by municipal decree, to a little girl who, it appears, existed only in the imagination of an old soldier. But the civilian victims of war do not get many memorials, so it would be churlish to complain.


Lei dice bruciato in piazza
dalla santa inquisizione
forse perduto a Cuba
nella rivoluzione

o nel porto di New York
nella caccia alle streghe
oppure in nessun posto
ma nessuno le crede.

The battlefield barely exists any longer, overwhelmed by the economic miracle, jobs and the sprawl of villeggiatura. There is a story of compromise, inadequate resources, bad planning, the vainglory of Mark Clark placing a photo-opportunity in Rome ahead of a chance to close the Valmontone Gap and perhaps end the Italian campaign a year earlier. For four months it was an artillery battle, sitzkrieg, a return to the patterns of an earlier war. A bloody awful place to die, in the cold wet spring of 1944. Now it is in the high thirties Celsius, and the train to Rome takes an hour and costs €3.20. The station at Campo di Carne is at the heart of where the fighting on the left flank was, in front of the Flyover and east of the gullies. You can overlay the maps in the histories onto the place, but you can see nothing that makes any sense of them. And it is right that it should be so. A few rooms in the Villa Adele, the town museum shared unevenly between antique Roman and modern soldiery, are packed with relics collected from the fields and from the wrecks outside the harbour, donated by survivors and widows and the armies of today, the walls covered floor to ceiling with propaganda and letters home.

E Colombo la chiama
dalla sua portantina
lei gli toglie le manette ai polsi
gli rimbocca le lenzuola.

"Per un triste Re Cattolico - le dice -
ho inventato un regno
e lui lo ha macellato
su di una croce di legno.

The local police are not empowered to take reports of missing documents, and the carabinieri barracks is a way out of town, in the drab sprawl up the coast road towards Ardea, rather optimistically labelled Lido delle Sirene on the map. The officer on the front desk assumes I'm German, which turns the start of my interview into a mildly comic affair, but by the time the amiable cop gets me figured out as British - have you heard about the riots over there? They'll be happening here soon - it's a pretty quick procedure. We joke about how there's always someone in every office who borrows a pen each time they come in and never returns them, and I'm away with a few copies of my bilingual denuncia di smarrimento (could have done a better translation myself, but, chi se ne frega?), once again able legitimately to drive even without the licence that I thought I left at a French hotel but which is in fact on my desk at home.


E due errori ho commesso
due errori di saggezza
abortire l'America
e poi guardarla con dolcezza

ma voi che siete uomini
sotto il vento e le vele
non regalate terre promesse
a chi non le mantiene ".

If you don't eat fish, you may have trouble with restaurants. On busy nights the pizza a taglio places are heaving. Da Peppino, a sit down pizzeria, on via Roma (every town has a via Roma, and they mostly point in the right general direction) is empty at 7.30 and every table packed by 8, the waiting staff marshalled by a man who is the spitting image of Paolo Bettini, the operation a marvel of WLAN-based order-handling. Don't wave for the bill, pay at the desk.

Ora Teresa è all'Harrys' Bar
guarda verso il mare
per lei figlia di droghieri
penso che sia normale

porta una lametta al collo
è vecchia di cent'anni
di lei ho saputo poco
ma sembra non inganni.

"E un errore ho commesso - dice -
un errore di saggezza
abortire il figlio del bagnino
e poi guardarlo con dolcezza

ma voi che siete a Rimini
tra i gelati e le bandiere
non fate più scommesse
sulla figlia del droghiere".

Nero's statue stands on the point, close to the lighthouse, south of where his villa stood right behind his private harbour (now its ruins are the fenced off backdrop to the public section of the beach). His reign was, the inscription tells us, a time of relative peace and expansion of the Empire. Caligula is not commemorated.

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