Italy wages war against beach-hogging tourists

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Be careful not to leave your beach equipment unattended on Italy's beaches overnight...Photo: David Schiano
12:28 CEST+02:00
From Tuscany to Calabria, coastguards up and down the country are waging a war against beachgoers who stake their claim on a coveted patch of sand by leaving towels and umbrellas out overnight.

In April, authorities in the Tuscan town of Cecina introduced a law prohibiting anyone from leaving their beach equipment unattended overnight or strategically placing it there before 8.30am in an attempt to reserve the best spot.

But fearless beachgoers have flouted the law, leading the coastguard to seize dozens of deckchairs, towels and umbrellas in a crackdown over the weekend.

And reclaiming those belongings is costly – the culprits must present themselves at the local maritime office and cough-up a fine of €200.

In an operation called “Safe Sea”, coastguards up and down the country are doing the same thing.

A spokesperson at Livorno’s maritime office, which on Saturday seized 37 chairs, 30 umbrellas, towels and even swimming costumes, told The Local that while rescues at sea remain their priority, the “beach maintenance” system is also in place, “as a way of ensuring peoples’ safety”.

But it is also intended to ensure people are aware of the law and show respect for those who comply with it, he said.

In an article by La Repubblica on Monday, the practise of reserving your spot under the sun was described as “an ancient and ingrained habit” that was born during the tourism boom years after the Second World War.

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Coastguards in Sardinia, Calabria, Campania and Abruzzo have adopted a similar initiative.

The aim is to also crackdown on those who scam tourists by setting up loungers and umbrellas on areas of public beach that are supposed to be free of charge. 

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