Beach life Italian-style: find out the do's and don'ts of life on la spiaggia
Italy’s sizzling at the moment with temperatures hitting 40⁰ in Sicily and families the length and breadth of the country preparing for a month on the beach, with numbers set to peak in mid-August over the Ferragosto break.
There are nearly 5,000 miles of Italian coastline, offering a choice of public (free) or perfectly-groomed private beaches where you can rent a deckchair, beach umbrella and, if you really want to splash out, a cabina to leave your belongings in.
But like most things in Italy, beach life has its own inimitable style so here’s our guide to blending in with the crowds.
1. Irrespective of shapes and sizes, beachwear should be minimal. For ladies, wearing a one-piece costume, or worse still, a tankini, is tantamount to draping yourself in a Union Jack flag.
2. Bad luck if you’re a family of five. Most private beaches will only allow you to rent four deckchairs per umbrella. If you need a fifth sunbed, factor in a second umbrella.
3. Don’t bother stressing over which umbrella and sun beds to choose. The front row is out of bounds (snapped up by the family who have been coming here for 30 years) and if you’re only there for a week, or worse still, a day, the chances are you’ll be allocated an ombrellone towards the back of the beach.
4. The sand in Italy is there to be walked on, not dug up. Sandcastle building is rare on private beaches unless there’s a competition underway.
5. People-watching rules supreme. By the end of your holiday, you’ll be amazed at how long you can just sit and observe the comings and goings of your neighbours – even when you don’t understand what they’re saying.
More information? Author Tim Park’s insight into beach life in Pescara in ‘An Italian Education’ is a must for any Italophile.