Emilia, a woman of the land borrowed by the sea

Emilia, whose real name was Giulia Palmina Gasparoni, was born in the hamlet Poggio di Ancona on August 30th 1899. She was a tiny woman, but as strong as an oak tree, and her name is indissolubly linked to the history of Portonovo bay. Together with her husband Emilio Dubbini, she started a simple wine bar activity in the hamlet of Poggio – which later on became today's Osteria del Poggio. A short time after that, in 1929, Emilia herself made up her mind to go down to the beach and organize lunches and refreshment moments for the first tourists – some rich people from Ancona who loved staying on the beach.

So, first at Poggio and then by the sea, next to the water source at Portonovo, she used to provide tourists with shade, water and, only later on, some sandwiches in a basket. It was exactly there, by the source, that she opened her first restaurant, where today stands Seebay Hotel. That was only a temporary setting that, nevertheless, immediately became a reference point for both the few inhabitants of the bay and the growing number of visitors. In 1950, following the compulsory moving out from that place, Emilia finally settled on the bay and the restaurant Emilia was created directly on the beach. But Emilia had always had the idea of a hotel in her mind, a hotel that had to be separated from the restaurant, a further proof of her enterprise capability and great intuition. The hotel Emilia was built between 1963 and 1964 on the hills overlooking the bay and today the hotel is run by Raffaella Fiorini, Emilia's grandchild (the daughter of Marisa's sister Elia).

The activity settled by Emilia at Portonovo did change the outlines of that inhospitable and marshy territory which then transformed itself into an area of natural value. Besides, and at the same time, it modified the life of Emilia's family and of the local people, too.

The restaurant at the bay naturally passed from mother's to daughter's hands. Maria Luisa, named Marisina, was Emilia's younger daughter and she was always side by side with her mother at the bay. Today, after her passing, the cooking tradition is in the hands of chef Lorenzo Focante, whereas her family receive guests and visitors: her daughter Federica runs the activity and takes care of the dining room. Marisina's husband, Franco, serves guests at the tables and entertains them with past memories, stories and little flowery or fruity gifts, and their son Edoardo, runs the beach activities.
Here, on the sea-shore, at the foot of the mountain, many well-known people from the world of culture, art, show business and jet set have come, both in past times and today: Ave Ninchi, Fausto Coppi and his White Lady, Walter Chiari, Rudolf Nurejev, Corrado, Mina and Nilde Jotti. And also the Prince Charles, the Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoia, Lech Walesa, Giorgio Panariello, Piero Pelù, Virna Lisi, Teo Teocoli, Mario Cipollini, Milly Carlucci and Lucio Dalla. and then Ricky Tognazzi and Simona Izzo, Aldo Montano, Flavio Insinna, Vittorio Sgarbi, Giorgio Albertazzi and Neffa.

At the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the restaurant, and following Marisina's desire to tell and transmit such an important and special story like hers, on September 13th 2009 the book "Il mestolo di Emilia" by Marco Giovagnoli was presented to the public, accompanied by some special live, touching and exciting testimonies.