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There’s a Price to Pay for Saving Spots at Italian Beaches

Be careful where you lay your towel

A crowded beach in Cinque Terre, Italy (Gary Bembridge via Flickr)
smithsonian.com

Italy’s beaches are some of the most popular in Europe, and so it's not surprising that they can get quite crowded during the height of the summer season. However, the lure of a beautiful beach is no excuse not to play fair. Recently, reports of tourists trying to save prime seaside spots for themselves by setting up towels, chairs and umbrellas ahead of time have skyrocketed. Now, the Italian coast guard is taking action in the form of fines.

All along the Italian coast, officials have begun scoping out seat-savers and confiscating their setups, as well as handing out fines of €200 (about $220) for trying to claim good spots by leaving their stuff out overnight, Erik Shilling writes for Atlas Obscura.

According to a report in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, last weekend coast guard officers in Livorno confiscated 37 beach chairs and 30 umbrellas, not to mention plenty of towels and even bathing suits left on the beach overnight. If the antsy beachgoers want to get their stuff back, officials say they’ll have to pay a fine for being impatient.

This isn’t the first time Italian authorities have cracked down on beachside spot-savers. Using towels to claim spots has been a typical practice since the Italian seaside became a popular tourist destination after World War II. Officials up and down the shore have at times had to resort to stern measure to keep people from acting unfairly. Just a few years ago, officials at a beach resort in Liguria fined a group of six tourists tourists €1,000 for laying out towels before the beach opened for the day to try and save spots, Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports for The Guardian.

This activity isn't just limited to tourists. Crowded beaches have led some entrepreneurial people to save spots overnight before illegally renting them to beachgoers at a high price, Kirchgaessner reports. Considering that many of the beaches are public, local authorities are taking this as an affront, especially after receiving complaints from victims of these con artists.

While it might seem like an overreaction on the part of Italian authorities, the country is dealing with a massive influx of tourists this year. Because of recent terrorist attacks in France, many Europeans are opting to avoid cities like Nice and head to the Italian coast instead, Leslie Josephs reports for Quartz. Though it might be tempting when faced with packed shores to try and save a spot overnight, it might be best to reconsider, and maybe go for a dip in the pool instead.

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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