Small Town Feeling

By / Food / August 30th, 2013 / 2

When I visited Italy a few years ago, I spent a few days at a small beach town called Giulianova in Abruzzo, with a population of just over 23000. Exploring the town on foot one day, I passed restaurants, hotels and stores selling beach toys. All the usual beach town trappings. What I didn’t expect to see was a Dolce & Gabbana boutique, and other stores selling the top designer fashions, or beachside eateries selling the freshest-tasting grilled seafood and a variety of great food you’d expect at an upscale restaurant. Leave it to the Italians, I thought. You see, I guess I’m a city girl at heart. I like to see all the nice stuff and great food anywhere I go. I don’t think those things should be limited to large urban centres. People who live in small towns shouldn’t have to travel to a big city to find that kind of thing. Granted, I know people who live in small towns who couldn’t care less about Dolce & Gabbana.

A couple of days ago, my family and I took a day to go to the beach. Not in Italy, but right here in Southern Ontario. We went to Turkey Point to dig our toes into the hot sand off Lake Erie. But, before that, we stopped into another beach town – Port Dover. If you own a motorcycle, you’ve no doubt heard of Port Dover. It’s the destination for thousands of bikers on every Friday 13th throughout the year. People of all stripes hop on their bikes and ride there to enjoy the local flavour and each others’ company.

Speaking of flavour, we came across a new bakery while there. (New to me; they’ve been open for three years.) The Urban Parisian Pâtisserie and Boulangerie wasn’t too busy when we pushed through the doors at 9 am. They had lots of fresh baguettes, French loaves and cheese bread ready to go. I couldn’t resist the fresh sour dough buns, so I bought some. Mmmm, it isn’t often that I’ve had sour dough bread that really showcases the sourness.

Up the street from the Urban Parisian was a store called the Robot Café. The open doors gave us a clear view into the store, and the geek in me rejoiced at the sight. This store was actually two stores separated by a half wall. On the one side were Marvel comic books, record albums, vintage candy and, of course, robots of every size and shape. The other part carried vintage guitars, framed posters and lots of other fun things.

Lots of other boutique-like stores populated the rest of the street – pottery, clothes, you name it. It was nice to see Port Dover looking better than it ever did, and offering visitors much more than the usual stores selling beach toys and burger-and-hot-dog-only kiosks.

When was the last time you drove out to visit a small town? Maybe you live in one. Tell me what you like best about it.

Photo Credit: JasonParis


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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