Essentials for a Day at the Beach: Italian Style

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Summer is here!

Do you know what that means?  It’s time to escape from the hot stuffy city and head to the magnificent seaside to bask in the sun and cool off in the refreshing crystal blue waters that surround southern Italy!

If you’ve ever travelled to the southern regions of Italy, you know it gets hot…like really hot. And even if you just plan to spend a day lounging around on the beach, that’s no excuse for looking like a hot mess!!

If you want to make the best out of a day at the beach here in Italy, here are the essentials.

1. Beach Bag

First things first, you need a good-sized beach bag. When choosing a beach bag I recommend something that zips closed and has a waterproof lining. You’ll understand why, when as you’re sun tanning in complete and utter bliss you are interrupted by a runaway wave. Yes, it happens – it’s happened to me and on more than one occasion! Also, if you can find a beach bag with lots of pockets, it could definitely help organize all the essentials you will be toting along with you to the beach.

sunscreen beach essentials

2. Sunblock or Crema Solare

It’s probably one of the most important things to take with you. The sun here is no joke. You may not see many Italians lathering on heaps of sunblock on the beach, but most Italians don’t burn thanks to their deeper complexions. If and when Italians use sunblock, it’s usually at a much lower SPF (we’re talking SPF10 and sometimes even SPF4). If you aren’t already tanned or you’re someone that burns easily, you should definitely bring along a sunblock with SPF30 or higher. This is one of the few situations where you shouldn’t do as the Italians do. It’s not uncommon to see Italians using baby oil to deepen their tan color, but unless you want to leave the beach redder than a lobster (or possibly worse), bring proper sun protection!

3. Big Sun Hats or Hair Protectant Spray

Just like your skin needs protection from the sun, so does your hair. Sun and salt water can cause damage to your hair, making it drier and more prone to fading and breakage. You could choose to purchase a big sun hat that will allow you to protect your noggin’ while looking fashionable at the same time, but if head-wear isn’t your thing, there are many hair protectant sprays out there on the market. Read the labels carefully and be sure that they have a UV filter.

4. Lip balm with SPF

Unless it’s already happened to you, you may not believe how uncomfortable burnt lips can be. Be sure to always have a good lip balm (not lip gloss) with SPF nearby and apply it often! It may be small, but it’s a necessity for keeping your pucker hydrated and sunburn free.

beach towel essentials

5. Microfiber Beach Blanket

You will find all kinds of beach blankets here, but in recent years microfiber beach blankets are becoming more and more popular. They are thin, lightweight and most importantly they dry quicker than regular beach towels.   They also don’t take up a lot of room in your suitcase or beach bag.

6. Bikini

So you haven’t worn a two-piece since you were young, wild and free? In Italy, everyone, and I mean everyone, wears a two-piece regardless of age, shape or size. And by bikini, I’m not talking tankinis and bikini shorts. So, let yourself go, most people are too busy having fun and enjoying the good weather to care about that extra pound or two. Don’t forget to keep a spare bikini in your beach bag; you don’t want a bikini malfunction to cut your beach day short.

7. Bikini Cover-Up

What you choose to wear over your bikini will obviously depend on your age and personal style. For women, you can never go wrong with a simple lightweight sundress or, if you are more casual, a pair of shorts and a tank. Keep in mind though that if you choose to head to a restaurant or café in the local village or town, you will need to cover up. Most places outside of a resort or lido don’t allow patrons to enter without being properly covered up and for many wrapping a sarong around your waist isn’t enough. Most places will have a sign outside to let you know what their dress code expectations are or you can peak in and see what other customers are wearing.

sunglasses beach essentials

8. Sunglasses

Sunglasses are great for protecting your eyes from the incredibly bright sun that showers the coastline.  You probably don’t want to bring your expensive designer sunglasses to the beach though – sand and pebbles scratch! It’s a good idea to find an inexpensive (yet always fashionable) pair that you can use exclusively for days at the beach. Many markets and beach merchants sell inexpensive sunglasses.

9. Accessories

Italians and accessories go hand in hand, whether it’s vibrant nail polish, fun colorful friendship bracelets, low hanging earrings or even headbands for your hair. You can have a lot of fun mixing and matching colors that compliment your swimsuit.

10. Moist Wipes and Tissues

You can almost be certain that the washrooms you find on the lido won’t have toilet paper or perhaps even soap. So always be prepared with moist wipes and tissues, oh and a small bottle of your favourite hand sanitizer is a good idea too!

11. Change

Don’t forget to bring some loose coins so you can bite into a delicious ciambella (sugar coated donut) or bombolone (cream or chocolate filled donut) on the beach. These tasty treats are a great early evening pick me up.

Leave it at home:

If you are spending the day at the beach, it’s always a good idea to leave anything of value at home. Crowded beaches are sure to draw pickpockets and other dishonest types. You are best to leave your wallet and jewellery at home. We know it’s difficult to part with your cellphone. But if you must bring it along, I suggest bringing a small mini-bag (plastic if possible), that can hold some money, and your cell phone, and that you can quickly grab and take with you when you head to the beach bar for an ice cream or a cold drink.

Now that you’ve seen my list of essentials, I’m curious, what are some of yours?  Let me know in the comments below!

Image Credits: Mike Mozart, Barbara Abate, Fabrizio Sciami

  1. karenincalabria

    February 12, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Hi Lulu! Good post! I’m a little out of season but I just discovered your very nice blog and I read through a couple of posts and arrived at this one. I usually bring a bottle of water along and a book which I never end up reading. As it so happens, I also blogged about the beach this past summer – my reflection on the Italian beach experience: http://www.calabriatheotheritaly.com/reflection-the-italian-beach/
    Hopefully, the thoughts of summer will keep you warm up there in Canada!

    1. LuLu

      February 14, 2016 at 8:27 am

      Hi Karen! I’m so glad you stopped in. I look forward to reading more of your blog! Your post of the beach had me laughing (especially the pulley string of the sunbed). You do get the hang of it 🙂 Can’t wait for the warmer weather to spend some relaxing time on tje beach!

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