How Not to Look Like a Tourist on an Italian Beach
With nearly 5,000 miles of coastline, Italy has the most beaches in continental Europe. Nowhere in the peninsula is more than a two-hour drive from a beach, and as summer temperatures climb ever higher, it makes perfect sense to take a break by the sea, enjoying the crash of the waves and sea breeze. And Italians love beach life: The long lines of vehicles heading to the shore on weekends and during the Italian holidays (watch out for Ferragosto break around August 15) are proof of their dedication to this annual summer tradition.
As in other walks of life, Italians have a set way of doing things. If you’re planning to join the coastal pilgrimage, there are some unspoken rules that are worth knowing ahead of your trip.
What to wear
Beachwear should be minimal in size, if not style. Undressing to show off your latest bikini or swimming trunks goes without saying; other than that, shorts and a T-shirt or a short dress are fine. Leave your sneakers at your hotel: All you need is flip-flops to protect your feet from the scalding sand when midday approaches. Even if the beach is rocky, flip-flops are still generally relied upon, although you could wear some water shoes if the terrain might be challenging to your feet. On sandy beaches, don’t walk around in your flip-flops unless strictly necessary, lest you accidentally kick sand on to your neighbor.
It’s perfectly fine to walk around in your bathing suit (women generally wear bikinis, and men wear swim trunks). Wearing a one-piece bathing suit (women) or anything other than trunks (men) will lead to you being perceived as much older than your age. Sunglasses are always fashionable, and a hat is perfectly acceptable. A beach towel and a bag to store your belongings are also essential; Italians tend not to bring their nicer bags, as sun and sea salt might damage it forever.
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