The Italian Beach (La Spiaggia Italiana) - A Short Guide

All Italian beaches are dreamy. All Italian beaches are picture perfect. 

Ok, this might be a slight generalization, but nonetheless, you’d be hard pressed to find a place on the Italian coast that didn’t give you that “wow, I’m lucky” feeling. That said, choosing the right beach can be tricky, and depends on what kind of atmosphere and experience you are looking for. This article is meant to be a quick guide to help you find “your” perfect spot in the sand (or rocks) for your next excursion to the sea (mare). 

The first question you should ask yourself is, “do I want amenities?” For example, do I want a designated sun lounger (lettini) and umbrella (ombrellone)? Do I want a full-service bar? Do I want access to bathrooms? Do I need an on-duty lifeguard for the kiddos? Personally, yes please! 

Italian beaches are split between private and public. Private beaches (called bagni) can be spotted by the rows of harmoniously striped umbrellas, and offer all the aforementioned amenities. They are a “pay to play” affair, where ten euros or so per head will grant you access. Just know that you will never be seated in the row closest to the sea - these seats are reserved for the locals who purchase annual passes. It should be noted, however, that the first 10 meters from the sea inland is considered public property all across Italy, no matter whether it’s in front of bagni. These are small points, but just good to be aware of. 

If you have opted for a public beach (called spiagge libere), the next question you need to ask yourself is, “what kind of beach do I want.” Like anywhere, Italian seaside real estate comes in many forms, the most common being sandy and rocky, but in Italy, there are no bad spots to enjoy the sea. The sandy public beaches will typically be along the same beachfront as the bagni and often get quite crowded. If you are after a more intimate or private experience, then rocky beaches can be the way to go. What they lack in comfort, they more than make up for in beauty and peacefulness. Just be sure to follow the locals to find the best access points. The choice is yours, it just depends on what kind of experience you are looking for. Sandy or rocky, be sure to pack all the necessities since once you arrive, you probably won’t leave for the day -  some towels, a cooler with food and drink (preferably vino bianco frizzante), and plenty of sunscreen. 


1 comment

Umm, amazing! Thank you for this – it will definitely come in handy next time I visit Italy.

Val September 13, 2021

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