Someone asked on Frommer’s: “Where do Italians go on vacation?”
The majority go to the beach. For at least a century, a seaside vacation has been considered healthful: during the Fascist period, ocean front “colonies” were built, where urban children could be sent to escape the grime of the cities.
The month-long summer vacation is still a reality for many Italians, who transfer their families (often including one or more grandparents) to a seaside hotel, apartment, or a trailer and tent in a campground. Even if Dad’s working, Mom and the kids will be there, with Dad perhaps driving down at weekends. Many families own second homes at or near the seaside, so take their vacations in the same place, year after year. It seems to be part of Italian culture to crave the comfort of familiarity and routine, even when you’re away from home.
Italy is a long peninsula, and also owns a lot of islands in a range of sizes, so there are plenty of beaches to go to, depending on your tastes and the size of your wallet. Choices range from the upscale, such as Portofino, Sardegna’s “Emerald Coast”, and Capri to… places that normal people can afford.
For family reasons, most of my Italian beach experiences to date have been very much in the affordable category, in Abruzzo on Italy’s central Adriatic coast. Having grown up in Thailand when it was still an unspoiled tropical paradise, I was astonished the first time I saw the Italian idea of a holiday beach: row after row of umbrellas, so close together that you could barely see the sand between them. I never have learned to see the charm of this.
(^ The photo at top shows a relatively roomy beach, by some Italian standards!)
Far from being relaxing, Italian resort towns are usually buzzing with activity: from early morning until late at night, you see (and hear) everyone (old and young) out and about, swimming, sunning (yes, tanning is still considered healthy here), strolling, chatting, eating gelato, being “animated“, until late at night. At least the afternoon siesta is held sacred!