TOWEL WARS

Italy will now fine those obnoxious tourists who save spots on the beach with their towels

Obsession
Getting There
Obsession
Getting There

Italian authorities are cracking down on a seaside menace: beach seat-savers.

The country’s coastguard in Livorno in Tuscany is stepping up seizures of umbrellas, towels, and other beach gear that visitors throw down to claim a prime spot on the sand ahead of time. It says it will charge them €200 ($222) to reclaim the items.

Over the weekend, the coastguard said it confiscated 37 beach chairs, 30 umbrellas, a cot, and assorted towels and swimsuits, La Repubblica reported (story in Italian). Other beach-gear seizures were reported, from Calabria to Sardinia.

Officials argue it isn’t fair to visitors who are following the rules of public beaches. And hoarding prime beach spots could be a ploy to rent them to tourists later, which isn’t allowed.

As many a frustrated vacationer knows, the battle for a choice patch of sand or a chair by the pool is a competitive summertime sporting event for some. Germans and the British have a longstanding rivalry over loungers (dubbed the “war of the beach towels” by some British newspapers), with Brits complaining that Germans tend to get up earlier to save all the best spots. When Britain faced its Brexit vote, Germany’s Bild newspaper even pledged that Germans would concede the best sunbathing spots to Brits if they voted to stay in the EU. (They did not.)

Italy’s crackdown may seem heavy-handed, but Italy is facing a deluge of tourists this year, as some travelers avoid other European destinations that have been hit by terror attacks, such as France.

Other countries are taking their own measures against the onslaught of tourists. Barcelona recently said it would ban Segways from the city’s crowded waterfront. Prague took a similar measure against the electric scooters earlier this year. Amsterdam banned beer bikes (but no one can really fault them for that).

The fines probably won’t be enough to end the towel wars, as competition for prized spots on the beach intensifies this summer. How anyone can relax in those conditions is the real mystery.

home our picks popular latest obsessions search