In Italy, summer means one thing – the beach. This year, it will be even a bigger focus after our COVID lockdown. Here we will give you an update on beaches in Italy.
Italians take their summer holidays very seriously. After months at home during the national quarantine, beach towns became one of the first destinations to start to “bounce back”. We mean both economically and in the tourism sector. While cities are empty (and quite hot) in these last 7 weeks after the Italian lockdown, beach towns, restaurants and hotels have become very much in demand.
Post-COVID, there are many things that have changed for those who wish to visit the Mediterranean coast. We’ve discussed this month some of the changes and procedures set forth by the government to keep us all safe. As we reopened to international tourism there will be new rules specifically concerning restaurants, hotels, museums and public transportation. This month, we continue with our beautiful beaches in Italy!
Here on the Italian Riviera, we are lucky to live on the sea and the beach is our backyard. The change from previous years, in terms of tourism and new safety measures, it’s notable.
In Italy, we have two main types of beaches. The first would be public, free stretches of beach and rocks. The other are private beach “clubs” where you can rent a sun bed, umbrella, changing cabin for the day, week or even the whole summer.
One of the biggest post-COVID differences is the distance! In the pictures above, you can see the difference from 2019 to 2020 of the beautiful stretch of beach in Lerici. Beach umbrellas at private beach clubs in the Ligurian riviera are notoriously close to one another. This year each umbrella legally needs to stay in a 10 square meter area (about a 107 square feet rectangle or square). Therefore, it’s up to the club to move their umbrella around. Many lost 30-40% of their umbrellas to make sure there is enough space between one and the other.
Free beaches in Italy are a little more tricky. For example, in the past, there were no stewards or attendants. It was a “seat yourself” policy. Now, towns that get more crowded, like in Monterosso al Mare in the Cinque Terre, have set up an online booking system. Here you can book your spot in advance to make sure the beach doesn’t get too crowded. You pick your spot online and the time you want to go. When you show up, you find your assigned, numbered 10 square meter area, as seen in the below picture.
The other reason behind reservations for the free beach in Italy is to take a list of everyone’s first name, last name and phone number. This way if there is any outbreak or contagion anyone on the beach can be contacted and advised. (This fortunately hasn’t happened!) Those who have booked an umbrella at the private beach club have to sign a “self declaration” of health along with their contact information for the same reasons. Here is an example at the Stella Marina beach club here in Monterosso, Cinque Terre:
Like almost everywhere in the country, masks are required even at the beaches in Italy. There are also required anywhere indoors, like the bathroom or if there is a bar. Of course, when you are swimming or in the water, masks are not required. The only mask you might need is a snorkel mask!
As Italy moves into a new, post-COVID period, things certainly have changed. The simple pleasure of going to the beach has taken on even more significance to us after so many months in a national lockdown. Following these measures ensures the safety of all of us, locals and tourists. It also ensures that a day at the beach is still the perfect way to spend a summer holiday here in Italy.