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Mamma explains why Italians will pay to enjoy the beaches


Just a few days ago mamma was walking us and telling us how happy she was that l’estate (lay-sta-tay) summer is finally here. Nonna was with us, and they started reminiscing about all the times they went to the beaches in Italy. Most of the time they went to “free” beaches where they did not have to pay to access the sea but there were usually no bagnini (ban-ye-knee) lifeguards and no amenities. Then one beautiful day, when they wanted to spend the entire day at the beach, they decided to splurge and paid to use the Lido di Naxos in Giardini Naxos Sicily.

Nonna was happy she had a lettino (leh-tea-no) a chaise lounge while mamma used a sedia a sdraio (said-e-ah ah str-yo) deck chair. Both of them had ombrelloni
(ome-bra-low-knee) beach umbrellas. They had both brought their own telo da spiaggia (tell-o da spee-ah-ja) or beach towel, but they did have to buy la crema solare (cray-ma so-lar-a) sunscreen. They spent all day at the beach and ate pranzo (pran-zo) lunch at the restaurant and later ordered some gelato!

Nonna explained that the Italian word lido means “shore” or “bank. Many Italians and visitors prefer to go to a lido because they have many things to do there that you wouldn’t find at a spiaggia libera (spee-ah-ja lee-bear-ah) a free beach. Sometimes the name of the lido is associated with the city where it is located. For example, the Lido di Venezia is a seven-mile-long barrier island in the Venetian lagoon where there is swimming and other water activities.

A lido is a bathing beach under the management of a private company or individual. The lido usually provides umbrellas, loungers, bathrooms, showers, and a place to eat. They may also have cabins to get changed, a shop which sells items to use at the beach and playgrounds and sports areas. They might also offer swimming lessons and boat rentals and they will have lifeguards.

Some of them allow dogs and provide areas for us if we have to go potty and places to drink water. They would call that a bau beach or spiaggia per cani.

The Italian government offers the management of specific areas along Italy’s coastlines to individuals and companies who then manage the facilities and accessibility of the area. They are charged a huge fee and in return pass this cost onto beachgoers. You can rent a spot for a day, a week or even longer.

If we ever get to Italy, we would love to visit a dog-friendly lido! But for now, we love our backyard pool and trips to a nearby lago (la-go) lake where we can splash and play in the water.

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