Sea swimming is popular in summer, when the water temperature can reach around 27C (81F) and a dip provides a welcome break from the blazing summer sun. However, although many Italians get into the water to cool off, this often has more to do with posing than swimming, evidenced by the number of people who take their mobile phones into the sea with them – held carefully above the water level, needless to say!
Most beaches are public, the best (white sand) beaches being on the Adriatic coast, where the Lido near Venice is Italy’s most fashionable bathing resort. Expect to pay around €1.50 for a beach chair, up to €6 per day to hire a basic lounger and up to €15 per day for an elaborate sun bed with an umbrella.
There are many open-air public pools, some of which are covered and heated in winter. Sometimes you must join a club to use a swimming pool, although there are also many public pools where you pay an entrance fee.
Hotel pools are sometimes open to non-residents, but these tend to be expensive. If you join a swimming club, you will find that there are numerous local and national competitions in which you can take part. Swimming lessons are widely available through clubs and at public pools.
In most pools you’re required to wear a swimming cap, irrespective of how much (or little) hair you have! The local tourist or information office can inform you about local swimming facilities. Private clubs with pools are listed under Impianti Sportivi e Ricreativi in the yellow pages.
There are a number of water parks ( parchi aquatici acquatici) throughout the country, offering pools, slides, wave machines and games, although these are usually outdoor facilities and therefore open only in summer. They tend to get very busy and aren’t ideal for serious swimming, but are good for a family day out.
For more information about swimming, contact the Italian Swimming Federation, Federazione Italiana Nuoto, Stadio Olimpico, Curva Nord, 00194 Rome (www.federnuoto.it).
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Italy. Click here to get a copy now.