A towel ban is just one of several measures proposed to protect La Pelosa beach, which in at the height of summer can attract several thousand visitors each day.
In a plan presented this week, Stintino's Mayor Antonio Diana said beachgoers may also be forbidden from bringing large bags, as part of the efforts to prevent them – accidentally or on purpose – picking up sand and taking it home.
Instead, he proposed, folding chairs, mats and reusable see-through bags would be made available for visitors to rent.
The proposals have been met with anger by locals, according to La Nuova Sardegna, which says that many accuse the mayor of trying to turn Stintino into a resort for wealthy tourists.
"People can say what they like," Diana told La Repubblica. "The important thing is to save La Pelosa.
"We didn't come up with the idea of banning towels. The entire plan is based on scientific studies that indicate towels as one of the biggest dangers, since when they're damp they retain a lot of sand. This isn't some airy-fairy idea."
Photo: Tommie Hansen/Flickr
Diana has already signed off on measures to limit access to the beach by car, notably by removing the road that currently leads right to within a few dozen metres of the sea and replacing it with pedestrian paths and cycle lanes. The beach itself will get a new raised walkway to help keep foot traffic off the fragile sand dunes.
The renovations are due to begin after summer 2019. In the meantime the mayor, who insists that he wants to keep the beach accessible to everyone who's willing to look after it, said that he was also considering hiring security guards to enforce basic rules like picking up rubbish and not parking on the dunes.
Once considered a hidden gem, La Pelosa has seen its popularity climb among locals and tourists alike. Last year it was ranked one of the top ten beaches in Italy by TripAdvisor users, albeit with the caveat: "Most crowded beautiful beach".
One means of protecting its pristine sands would be to restrict the number of people allowed on it. While that is not being considering at the moment, the mayor said that he was not ruling anything out that could help preserve La Pelosa.