‘Bikini ban’: Why Italy’s Sorrento has outlawed swimwear

Fed up with ‘indecorous behaviour’, the mayor of summer hotspot Sorrento has become the latest to fine people for walking around town in swimsuits.

Aerial view of Sorrento, Campania (Italy)
Aerial view of Sorrento’s harbour. Photo by Nick Fewings via Unsplash.

Sorrento is one of Italy’s most famous tourist resorts, with both Italian and international visitors flocking to the area every summer to enjoy sun, sea, and the sights. 

But it seems one sight the local mayor no longer wants to see in his town is that of sunburned tourists traipsing through the streets and piazzas in revealing beachwear.

On Wednesday, July 6th, Mayor Massimo Coppola issued a ban on walking around in swimming costumes or going shirtless (and presumably, topless) in a crackdown on what he called “indecorous behaviour”.

Coppola told Italian media that the sight of skimpy swimsuits was causing “discomfort and unease” among local residents and some visitors.

He said walking around in swimwear was “contrary to decorum” and that such behaviour was impacting quality of life in the town, “with consequences for its image and for tourism”.

Overlooking the magnificent Gulf of Naples, Sorrento welcomed as many as three million visitors a year before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Local police will be tasked with enforcing the new ‘anti-bikini’ ordinance, as it has become known, with fines of up to 500 euros for those flouting the rules.

READ ALSO: How will Italy’s Amalfi Coast traffic limit for tourists work this summer?

While such a ban may sound unusual, Sorrento is not the first or only part of Italy to legally require people to cover up.

Lipari, the largest of Sicily’s Aeolian islands, introduced a similar rule back in 2013, after residents kicked up a fuss about tourists wearing skimpy swimwear in the city centre.

Tropea, one of Calabria’s most popular seaside resorts, followed suit in July 2019, when Mayor Giovanni Macrì forbade residents and visitors from wearing swimwear far from the local beaches, as well as strolling around town barefoot.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on wild camping in Italy?

Finally, Venice has long been known for enforcing an array of rather peculiar pro-decorum measures. 

Besides the Venetian anti-beachwear ban, visitors of the ‘Floating City’ are banned from eating or drinking while sitting on the ground, bathing in the lagoon’s waters, riding bikes and even feeding the local birds, with the latter offence leading to fines of up to 500 euros.

Member comments

  1. It should be simply common courtesy to dress appropriately for urban habituation. How would English people feel if tourists strolling along Oxford Street or any where else in a city in swim wear. I have not seen this kind of behaviour in Brighton, Eastbourne or any other British seaside town. Sad really that it has to be legislated

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Italy approves Holocaust museum for Rome after 20-year wait

Italy's government has approved funding for a long-awaited Holocaust museum in Rome, where nearly 2,000 Jewish people were rounded up during World War II and sent to concentration camps.

Italy approves Holocaust museum for Rome after 20-year wait

A national museum in the capital would “contribute to keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive,” read a statement from the government after ministers agreed to fund the project late on Thursday.

The announcement came on the heels of an official visit to Rome last week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said 10 million euros had been allocated to begin construction of the museum, a long-delayed project first proposed in the 1990s.

Ruth Dureghello, head of Rome’s Jewish community, welcomed the news but called for “definite timeframes and choices that can be made quickly to guarantee the capital of Italy a museum like all the great European capitals”.

READ ALSO: Stumble stones: How Rome’s smallest monuments honour Holocaust victims

The architect in charge of the project, Luca Zevi, told AFP the museum should be completed in three years.

Symbolically, the museum will be built on land adjacent to the park of Villa Torlonia, the residence of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who was in power from 1922 to 1943.

Mussolini introduced racial laws in 1938 that began stripping civil rights from Jews in Italy and culminating in their deportation. 

On October 16, 1943, German troops supported by Italian Fascist officials raided Rome’s ancient Ghetto, rounding up and deporting about 1,000 Jewish people.

READ ALSO: Four places to remember the Holocaust in Italy

Subsequent roundups captured another 800 people, and nearly all were killed in the concentration camp of Auschwitz.

The Holocaust saw the genocide of six million European Jews between 1939 and 1945 by the Nazis and their supporters.