Lonely Planet Writer

Italian coast guard begins crackdown on tourists leaving towels on beaches overnight

The Italian coast guard has started a crackdown on tourists leaving their belongings on beaches overnight to reserve the best spots for themselves the next day.

Marina di Cecina, Tuscany.
Marina di Cecina, Tuscany. Image by Ian McKellar / CC BY-SA 2.0

On Saturday night, the Livorno coast guard removed 37 chairs, 30 parasols, a cot and several towels and bathing suits from a 100-metre stretch of public beach near the resort town of Cecina in Tuscany. They had been monitoring the beach for several days before they made their strike. In April, authorities had made it a crime to leave unattended items on the beach before it opens at 8.30am. If the people who left their belongings on the beach want them back, they will have to pay a fine of €200.

But the crackdown wasn’t limited to Cecina, with similar raids taking place across the country, including in the regions of Abruzzo in central Italy and Salerno in the south.

The Italian coast guard is attempting to make going to the beach a fairer and more enjoyable experience for everyone, as Coast Guard Commander Cosimo Nicastro explains: ‘We are being pretty severe about this because we believe the public areas need to remain accessible to all, not just those who want to be first in line or try to make money from something that is open to everybody.’

Livorno authorities confiscating beach chairs and parasols.
Look out! Livorno coast guard is confiscating beach chairs and parasols. Image by Sharon Mollerus / CC BY 2.0

As well as overly eager tourists, the crackdown is intended to target illegal operators who set up chairs and umbrellas on public beaches that are supposed to be free, and charge tourists to use them.

The Italian coast guard is also targetting sailing vessels that stray too close to swimming zones and making sure that fishers, divers and snorkelers follow the rules in protected marine reserve areas.