It is natural that beaches are important in a country where almost all of its territory is water. This is what Italy is. There are beautiful beaches on both sides of The Boot. The vast majority of Italians grew up knowing that the beach is a part of every summer.
It sounds idyllic doesn’t it?
Summer in Italy is the best time to enjoy the Italian beach culture. It can get very hot in the cities. However, spontaneity is not a good idea when planning a summer vacation to the Italian beach. This is where the real rewards are for those who plan ahead.
That’s why you’re here, clever planner.
Before you head to the sand, here are some facts about Italy’s beaches.
Italy’s “Private” beaches
Oregon is where I have spent the majority of my life. All beaches are open to public. This is what I find most surprising about Italian beach culture.
Although the beaches are technically public (and there is a strip of land at the water’s edge), there are concessions or “stabilimenti” at almost every stretch of sand. These permit holders have purchased permits to place rows upon rows of beach chairs (“lettini,” beds, or umbrellas”), which they rent out. Technically, anyone should be allowed to walk to the water’s edge from the beach. However, bagni are often set up so close together that one group of umbrellas is abutting another, making it difficult to pass between them. The concession owners won’t allow you to walk through any of them without having to pay.
Protestors may be heard requesting more beach access, but this doesn’t change the status quo.
What do you get for your money if you pay for the privilege to lounge on an Italian beach? It’s quite a lot. You can have a comfortable lounge chair and a shade-providing umbrella for your comfort (without having to carry one around), and you also have access to the facilities at stabilimento. These include changing rooms, showers and toilets, as well as places to store clothes and get food and drinks. Lifeguards are usually on duty.
For different fees, you can either rent a single chair or an umbrella-equipped chair. If you plan to stay in the area for a while, you can purchase a pass that is good for a longer time. Italians often rent a bagni for an annual rental. This allows them to access the best spots and also gives them a monthly pass. Yes, you will be directed to a chair when you pay for private beach access. You don’t have the option to choose.
Italy’s Public Beaches
All other beaches in Italy can be accessed free of charge by the public. Unsurprisingly, these beaches are not as clean or maintained as “private”. Look for signs that indicate which beaches or areas of the beach are “spiaggia libre”; however, it is a good indication that public beaches are those without a lot of loungers and umbrellas.
There are many public beaches that offer different amenities. Some beaches have public restrooms and showers. Even if they are temporary, there are often kiosks or restaurants on the beach. Sometimes there’s just a small area of sand or pebbles. Access to the public beach can be accessed via a long staircase that leads up from a parking lot. This is a common situation. Be prepared for a steep climb. It’s a good idea, if you are unfamiliar with the area to ask about the facilities before heading out.
It is a good idea, especially at busy beaches, to keep an eye on your belongings. They are not monitored by the authorities so pickpockets or petty thieves may wander around looking for easy targets. You must ensure it isn’t you.
Learn more about safety travel in Italy
Italian Beach Wear
Perhaps you’re familiar with the often-comically-portrayed stereotype of old Italian men at the beach in Speedos, letting a lifetime’s worth of pasta gut all hang out. Stereotypes are usually based on some factual basis, and yes, those guys do exist. The Speedo-type suit remains a popular choice for older Italian (and European!) men. Swim trunks are becoming more popular, particularly for younger men.
A bikini or two piece is the best choice for women of any age. No matter your age or body type, one-piece suits are rare on Italian beaches. Italian women believe that “bikini body”, which means “anybody on which you place a bikini,” is an Italian term. This is amazing, I have to say.
Topless sunbathing can be found in some areas of Italy. It is not limited to specific beaches or areas. The naked breasts are not considered taboo in the United States. However, nude sunbathing is restricted to specific areas, which may or not be designated as nude beaches. This is because locals know exactly where the boundary is. Ask around if you are looking for (or trying not to find) a nude beaches. It’s a good idea not to remove your shirt on any beach. Like in many other situations it is best to follow the example of the locals.
It is fashionable and trendy, which extends to vacations in Italy. You won’t find people walking into shops or restaurants in flip-flops. Beachwear is only for the beach. You can dress up your stylish and dry swim trunks by adding a stylish t-shirt. You can also wear a beautiful sundress or beach cover up dress to go with your swimsuit. Everyone, get something nicer than the cheap beach sandals.
Learn more about What to Pack for an Italy Trip
August at an Italian Beach
Many Europeans, including Italians, get around a month of vacation each summer. This is often in August. If you have ever been to an Italian beach in August you might believe that every last person on the island spends their vacation there.
Yes, August is crowded on the beaches of Italy.
Remember how I said earlier that a day trip to an Italian beach in August is not always a good idea, no matter how fun it may sound? This is why. This is why so many people spend weeks at the beach every summer.
It’s not to say you shouldn’t visit the beach in summer if your vacation is in Italy. You’ll be happier planning ahead. You can book lodging well in advance and, if possible, arrange for spots at a stabilization. With a little planning ahead, you can make your beach time as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.
Blue Flag Beaches
Blue Flag is a global environmental program that awards Blue Flag Awards to beaches and marinas that have met its more than 30 criteria. These include water quality, availability of services, overall safety, and overall safety. Blue Flag beaches are found all over the globe, including in Italy.
It is possible to find new Blue Flag beaches in Italy, but the list changes frequently as existing beaches are removed or updated by the organization. You can find the Blue Flag beaches in Italy by looking at the map. Scroll down the map and zoom in on the areas you want to visit. Click on the blue dots.
Not all dots are located on the coast. Blue Flag also inspects lakeside beaches.