Where Italians Go on Vacation

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!

14 thoughts on “Where Italians Go on Vacation

  1. kataroma

    I feel the same way about the Italian beach. I grew up in Sydney, Australia so Italian beaches just don’t seem either beautiful or relaxing to me. The first time I went to the Adriatic Coast the pollution actually made me throw up! 🙁

    I don’t get why Italians go to the beach when there are so many parts of Italy which are far more beautiful.

  2. Enrico

    HI Great post!

    Have you ever seen a typical Sicilian family beach vacations?

    Here the schedule:
    – Start 5:00 o’clock to prepare foods (cutuletti; parmiggiana; muluni; pasta o funni)
    – Departure at 7:00 o’clock
    – 3-4 hours in the freeway pollution
    – 12:00 arrive on the beach
    – 12:05 start eating
    – 20:00 finish eating
    – 20:01 go home

    🙂

    Best regards

  3. kath

    I actually love some of the pay beaches in Italy. It’s nice to have a place to change, store all the kids’ stuff, get an ice cream, play in the sand and the water and then spend some time in the shade of the umbrella.

    My husband and I were talking recently about our upcoming vacation, and started reminiscing about our own childhood experiences. I grew up in the US, he grew up in Italy. We would take a few weeks camping or playing at the beach. He would spend a month at the beach then a month in the mountains! Then we started talking about priorities, socio-economic issue, and global politics…

    Cheers!

  4. Kaz Chigita

    Folks in Tokyo is more or less the same, you have to take a train or car for couple of hours to go to the beach and it is packed with people! Not much people can afford a house near beach though.

  5. Chad

    I have always wanted to go to Italy and walk on the beaches, and after watching this video I want to all the more.

    Great Stuff.

  6. Reise Laender

    I have asked my sister about these beaches in Italy, as she’s living in Florence, and she said she still prefer to take on a vacation on tropical beach resorts than to hang around those beaches. But I wouldn’t mind especially if I would be going there on a romantic vacation.

  7. Ciovo

    Where italians go an vacation? I know the answer – Croatia. On ferragosto they come with ships, cars, aircrafts to dalmatia.

    We like the italiens very much – friendly and happy. 😉

    Greetings!

  8. Carola

    i agree italian beaches are far from anyones idea of a paradise beach but it is pretty comfortable to not have to pack an umbrella or a beach chair to be comfortable at the beach.

  9. Richard Davies

    I was in Malta recently & there were a lot of Italians there, especially on a boat tour around of the island I went on.

    We stopped off at the Blue Lagoon on the small island Comino, where the beach was more or less jam-backed.

    In the UK many people go to the same seaside resort & sometimes stay at the same hotel year after year. This is getting a bit rarer, though many more people have a holiday cottage or caravan rather that stay at the type of guest house Bill Bryson detailed in Notes From A Small Island. My Gran had a caravan in north Norfolk & I spent a week there almost every year she had it.

  10. Swansea Lad

    The beaches in Pescara are packed but if you follow the coast towards Vasto you will find the coastline more rugged and less populated , if you travel further towards Pulia you will find the beaches much quieter ,I visited all these areas whilst on a months vacation and made my base in a lovely village called Loreto Aprutino which i can recommend

  11. Pingback: Buon Viaggio! | Siena Blog Project

  12. Marco Matera

    I am from Italy I can say I dont like at all the Italian beaches, at least most of them. You just cant relax, I actually prefer beaches in Northern Finland, where I am living now. Too bad its too cold for sunbathing ahahah!

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