Italy is bordered on three sides by the sea so there are plenty of good beaches and places to swim in Italy. Italians often head to the beach on summer weekends and August vacations so you can expect crowds during those periods but Italian beaches can be a good place to experience a bit of Italian culture while you swim in the sea and escape the summer heat.
What to Expect at a Private Italian Beach
When you’re visiting Italy you probably won’t have your own beach towel, chair, or sun umbrella so you may want to take advantage of private beaches, called stabilimenti or bagni, where you pay an entrance fee for the day that includes some amenities, such as bathrooms and showers. Other items, such as a lounge chair, can be rented for an additional fee. Many private beaches also have a bar where you can get refreshments and sometimes even a pizzeria or restaurant. Locals often get a season pass that entitles them to a prime lounge chair location so you probably won’t get a spot right by the water. You’ll recognize beach establishments by a group of umbrellas that are all the same color.
2020 Note: Most private beaches will allow fewer guests and have lounge chairs farther apart to comply with social distancing as well as following other safety measures.
Free beaches generally do not have lifeguards on duty and usually do not have public restrooms but if you’re just going for a short time you may be satisfied with a public beach. If you see a red flag on the beach it means no swimming.
Some hotels also have their own private beach and if the hotel is not right by the beach they may include a shuttle during summer season.
Blue Flag Beaches
Beaches awarded the Blue Flag are rated the cleanest and most environmentally friendly so choosing a blue flag beach is usually a good way to go. They are inspected and the list updated yearly. In 2016, 293 beaches and 66 marinas were awarded the Blue Flag. Although every region with coast access has blue flag beaches, regions that usually have the highest number are Liguria (Italian Riviera), Le Marche, Tuscany and Campania. A few blue flag beaches are on lakes, too.
Beaches Near Rome and Venice
A common question in summer is, where can I go to the beach from Rome? The closest beach and probably the easiest to get to from Rome is Ostia Lido, on the same train line as Ostia Antica. Take the Rome Metro Line B to the Piramide stop, then from the Porto San Paolo station, take the Ostia-Lido train toward the Lido (the seaside), using the same ticket.
For those visiting Venice who wish to swim in the sea, there are beaches on Venice Lido. Take the vaporetto from Saint Mark’s Square. If you’d like a hotel on the Lido, Hotel Excelsior Venice is right on the beach and has a swimming pool and shuttle service to Saint Mark’s Square.
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