Beaches and Sea Safety in Italy

Information on the beaches of Italy, including water quality, beach safety, access for people with disabilities and the risks related to swimming...

Supervised beaches in Italy have a system of coloured flags to let the public know about the swimming conditions. The code is:

Safety in the Water
Green Safe to swim
Yellow Caution
Red Danger
Double Red Flag Double Red Flag Swimming forbidden
Purple Marine pest present (jelly fish etc.)

Beaches in Italy

Italy has 7,600 Km of coastline. Most beaches in Italy are private, though there are free beaches (spiaggia libera) as well. These are normally signposted. Some of them are equipped with showers and public toilets. Private beaches rent out sunbeds (lettino) and parasols (ombrellone) and they tend to be cleaner than free beaches.

Italy lies in the Mediterranean Sea, however, the waters of the Adriatic Sea (part of the Mediterranean) run the length of the east coast.

Blue Flag Beaches

The Blue Flag (Bandiera Blu) is an eco label award for beaches with good practices in terms of water quality, environmental management, safety & services and environmental education. It was introduced in France in 1985 under the name "Pavillon Bleu" and is now used in 41 countries across the world.

Italian beaches with access for people with difficult mobility

Italy has a number of beaches with dedicated to people in wheelchairs or with disabilities and impaired mobility. The facilities and services vary from beach to beach.

Safety in the Sun and Sea

Being aware of the dangers related to swimming in the sea can help to avoid accidents. Children must be supervised at all times. Most frequent dangers include:

  • Water current can be really strong
  • Wind movements causing big waves. Waves normally move from sea to land during the day and from land to sea during the night
  • Choose to swim where other people are swimming


In some cases - when the temperature difference between the water and the air is great - jumping quickly into the sea can cause hypothermia. The symptoms include shivering, dizziness and sight problems, a sensation of ringing ears, a sudden sensation of fever, itching, cramp, and head ache.

If this happens, get out of the water quickly, dry off, wrap up in clothes or dry towels and rest in the shade until the symptoms pass.


Sunstroke can occur if exposed to the sun and the heat for too long. Children are particularly sensitive. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, stiff neck, fever. In a severe case, vomiting and unconsciousness can occur. Treatment involves rehydration with water and salts, and cooling the body gently. Lie down in a well ventilated place in the shade, ideally covered by a damp sheet, drink water without ice and take an aspirin.

Wearing a hat and drinking water regularly can prevent sunstroke.


If stung by a jellyfish (Medusa), rinse the sting with sea water, not fresh water. Vinegar, wine, alcohol or human male urine deactivates the nematocysts (stinging units). Tentacles should be removed, preferably lifted off the skin with, for example, a credit card. If stung in the face, rinse the eyes immediately and contact a doctor.


The spines of a sea-urchin (Riccio di Mare) can puncture the skin and go into the foot. This can cause swelling and infection. The spines break easily and are difficult to remove. To relieve pain, soak in very hot water, then visit a doctor to have the needles removed.

Rays, weaver fish and scorpionfish

Shallow sandy sea beds can hide rays and weaver fish. If distressed, a ray can lash out with its sting-laden tail. The strike of a ray on flesh can cause skin irritation or infection.

The weaver fish (Trachinidae)  has poisonous spines on its dorsal fin. It rests buried in the sand, with the dorsal sticking up which, if stepped on, causes intense pain. Soak the foot in hot water.

The scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae) often lies concealed in rocky places. It also has poisonous spines which can give painful stings.

Further Information