Citizens in Italy are fighting for free beach access. In Naples, resistance is forming against online reservations.

There is unrest in Italian coastal communities – citizens are opposing a practice that increasingly denies them free access to the sea. In Naples’ chic Posillipo district, resistance to a new online reservation system for beach spots is particularly strong. The residents of the picturesque coastal regions are increasingly confronted with privatized stretches of beach, where a simple lounger or parasol have become a luxury item.

An initiative called “Free Sea” in particular is vehemently committed to unhindered access to the waves. “We want to give the sea back to the Neapolitans without restrictions,” stressed Giuliano Esposito, an activist in this group, according to ORF.

The controversial booking system that is causing a stir in coastal towns requires that you have made a prior online reservation to access the beaches. This procedure limits the number of people who can use the public beaches.

Anyone who does not reserve a place by 1 p.m. the day before will not be allowed in. In addition, reservations that are not used automatically expire. Activists like Esposito see these measures as an unacceptable barrier and an unfair restriction that needs to be removed.

The discontent over these access restrictions is not limited to Naples, but is also spreading to other places. Resistance is forming from Tuscany to the Emilia Romagna Riviera and Liguria, as Rai News reports.

The fear is that if the trend continues, free beach visits will soon be a thing of the past. In some areas, including the popular holiday town of Lignano Sabbiadoro, almost all beaches have already been privatized. This means that holidaymakers and locals have to pay high prices to use them – a development that is hardly sustainable for many, especially families.

According to the ORF, the privatization of beaches is widespread in Italy and is progressing at a worrying pace. For example, in Lignano Sabbiadoro, over 80 percent of the beach areas are in private hands.

In Tuscany, too, privatization has had an impact, with almost 100 percent coverage. The cost of a beach lounger, which has already risen noticeably in 2024, represents a significant financial hurdle for many.

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