I grew up going to beaches along Florida's Panhandle. They are free, beautiful, and clean. We lived in San Diego. Lots of free, beautiful, clean beaches. Mississippi - close enough, Key West, yep. When we moved to D.C. and started going to the Chesapeake Bay, we noticed some towns had small beaches on the bay for which they charged a fee for non-residents. That was weird. Then we moved here. In Naples, there are only a few free beaches. One of them happens to be a block from my house. I thought this was fabulous until I realized just what paying for a beach spot gets me. For somewhere between 10-20 euros (roughly, $13-25), I get a clean beach, a toilet that may or may not be clean and may or may not have toilet paper/soap, a chair, an umbrella, a beach cafe for lunch, and in some cases, a shower or access to a pay shower...and men to walk around the beach, approaching my chair approximately 20 times in four hours to see if I want to buy a watch, sunglasses, sarong, jewelry, or tablecloth. Here is what you get at the free beach:
|I think it's clear which side is free and which side is pay.|
I took this picture on my phone while having maternity photos taken by Renee Williams. She has a much better shot of it done with her camera (and her photography skills!). I think it goes without saying that beach maternity shots are done on the pay beach (called a lido or beach club) side of the fence!
In this blog, I try to be really honest about my feelings on living in Italy, and in Naples especially. There are highs and lows. There are things I like and things I don't like...like everywhere and every aspect of life. I try very hard not to let the negatives outweigh the positives and affect my attitude. That said, Naples does not have nice beaches. We've spent this summer visiting beaches in every direction radiating out, from south to Sicily (and to the Cilento area last summer) to east to the Adriatic side of Italy to the islands off the coast of Naples and up the coast to an area called Gaeta. In every direction, one can find clean, gorgeous water and beaches. While Naples has some excellent lidos that keep their beaches raked of trash, you can't change the water quality. That takes a massive change by the entire Neapolitan society, who to this point, has not realized on a large scale that throwing garbage out of cars means garbage in the waterways, that sewage leaks can and should be controlled rather than just clucked over with a shoulder shrug (that's just how it is), and that if you are a free beach goer, you should still take your trash with you at the end of the day...because the next time you come to the free beach, you don't want to have to rake a spot just to put your towel. I love sitting on the beach, and I've done it here in Naples...I especially love being able to snorkel over Roman ruins, which is such a unique occurrence. BUT...here is why I prefer beach trips out of town:
|In Formia, about 1.5-2 hrs in traffic from our house. Clean, clear water.|
|Vieste, on the Gargano Peninsula (east coast of Italy). Even cleaner, clearer water.|
|Taormina, Sicily. The cleanest and clearest of all, like swimming in a salty water bottle.|