Italian Beach Culture

Surrounded by sea, Italy boasts nearly 5,000 miles of beautiful coastline, which means you are never more than two hours from the seaside. So, it may not surprise you that, when it comes to the beach, Italians are very serious about their Beach time. Summer leisure is a national pastime, If you have ever been to Italy in mid-July the towns on the coast are deserted; everyone is at the beach. The coastline along Italys premier “Riviera” location on the Cinque Terre is no exception.


From Levanto through to Portovenere in the south, the beaches are scattered with Beach umbrella’s and sun lounges. This is where the Italians gather to get serious beach time over the summer months.

The beaches In Italy are dotted with rows of Bech umbrellas and sun lounges and belong to what’s called a “bagno.” or beach club.  A bagno is usually a small family owned business that offers facilities which has a lifeguard on duty and also offers a bathroom, a changing room, and a cold and/or hot shower.

Because the bagni are quite a hit with Italian families, and they are booked in months in advanced, it can be hard to find a place with space available during the high season. July and August is the busiest time of the year and it’s possible that you have to resign going to the public beach because all the bagni are full.

Each of these spaces along the Italian coast are highly coveted and once it’s in the family, they won’t want to give it up so easily. It is an important investment and source of income that is passed down through the family for years, apart from losing the tradition, the family would be at odds on trying to find other employment .

A law was passed by the European Union in 2006 (Bolkestein) to try to avoid discrimination and competition across the EU and wanted to put these bagni up for public auction. This of course would mean that bidder with the most money (a large corporate multinational enterprise) would purchase the land, taking away the original, authentic, custom-made, tailored, and curated family-owned bagni that is so unique to Italy.

Italy fervently worked on extending the date that this law would have to go into effect  until 2020 knowing vey well that it would be over 30,000 small to medium sized beached resorts at risk of losing their business. It now seems that these cultural beach establishments might be saved from this law.

The Italian beach resort is a great place to spend a few days if you’re traveling around Italy during the Summer months, people are friendly and the Mediterranean Sea is nice place to while away a few hours watching Italian culture at work.

Mike Briggs, Cinque Terre Italy 2017

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