The beach life in Italy is simple. It is the answer to all our stress. It requires very little organizing. And, that is what makes it fantastic.
Writing my tips & tricks post made me think about how beach life, or ‘lettino life’ as I like to call it, needs its own spotlight. It is something pretty commonplace for Italians and they would probably laugh at my own marvel at it. But, you rarely find a beach setting like this in the States, unless you are paying high prices for a beach club (we already have to pay to enter lots of regular U.S. beaches, and we schlepp our own stuff there too!)
Beach bars in Italy are ubiquitous. They are scattered along the coastlines, many bunched together. It is always helpful to seek out a few recommendations, especially in more touristic areas. Either way, a beach bar’s rhythm is almost always the same. The Italian beach bar is composed of a few parts:
- Beach bar
- beach chairs (lettini) and umbrellas (umbrellone)
- the sea!
Within this you have everything you need. You stay there practically all day. Italians are competitive beach goers. Many show up early to get some waterfront seats, and will leave around or even after golden hour… Trust me, you will be doing the same, possibly with a spritz or three on the side…
Let’s go through this cool lifestyle, concisely. It is a simple way to beach it up and I do not want to draw this out into some grandiose happening of life.
First things first, you rent your lettini/ beach chairs. Usually they are pretty affordable, particularly in smaller towns less frequented by international crowds. Personally, I have seen a price per chair range from 5 euro to 40 euro (40 being a chic beach club in Positano.) It does vary. It is best to rent a chair per person, children are a bit of an exception. The umbrella comes with it too, making your beach schlepping a lot easier!
After you rent, the beach life is all yours. You absolutely must venture to the beach bar to settle in…if you know what I mean. It is humble as hell, sandy as hell, and awesome as hell. You will notice around 1 pm, the beach itself is vacated. It is like mass is being held at the beach bar. It kind of is – lunch is certainly a religious service in my book. Below, I listed my food & beverage recommendations for Italian beach bars.
Food & Drink:
A few things to savor and sip while you are on an Italian beach.
Panini! It sounds overly simple, but panini at beach bars are usually quite scrumptious. Look for a good panino with tonno e pomodoro (tuna and tomato,) with even mozzarella sometimes! Jazz it up!
Pizzetta! The god sent beach bar snack. This little pizza (pizza + etta = lil pizza) is solely spread with tomato passata and baked until lightly crisp and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. It is the easiest lunch, especially for kids.
Menu of the Day! Some beach bars have incredible (usually mini) kitchens. If they do, the menu is concise and there are usually fresh seafood specials! Go for something new. Local fish can be found and will taste delightful with a liter of local wine…
Vino! Birra! Beach bars nearly always have alcohol. Lots of it. Beer wise, a peroni or Nastro azzurro is a safe bet especially when you are on the Roman coast. If in Sardegna, try an Ichnusa,the national lager. There is typically a local wine served by the quarter, half, or whole liter. If they have a wine list, entertain it! Go local always! If on the Amalfi Coast, try falanghina (which is usually what comprises the house local wine) or fiano! Also try percoca – sort of the Italian answer to sangria. It’s peaches soaked in local white wine served in a pitcher. Need I convince you further? Mixed drinks can also be found and are super common! Mojito! Gin e tonic!
Gelato! This will be more like ice cream in comparison do your initial thoughts. You will always find a board with a list of different packaged brand named ice creams at any basic beach bar. These boards are almost always identical and have photos included. As a child, I ate a Magnum classico maybe everyday… also try a cucciolone classico. It was my second favorite. It is an ice cream sandwich packed with chocolate, vanilla, and fresh milk gelato on the inside. That is a beach party in your mouth.
Coco! coco! If you are at the beach and you see gentleman (probably with a walnut leather tan) screaming these words, wave your hands in the air. Nothing is more refreshing than chewing on some fresh coconut while you sweat your bum off on the beach.
I cannot give an extensive guide to Italian beach bars in every region YET. But, I will start a shortlist of one’s I adore and are featured in this post. The list will hopefully expand over time and I plan on adding in some of my friend’s recommendations as well.
Casual family run joint that serves all the essentials. They serve daily specials cooked right in their tiny kitchen. Chairs are priced per row and can be rented on-site without a reservation.
Spiaggia di, Via Fornillo, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
Possibly the busiest beach bar restaurant in Positano. You must call ahead to get a chair and a table for lunch. I suggest asking your hotel/Airbnb host if they can do it for you, as this place is infamous for not picking up the phone. They serve the best zuppa di cozze/ mussel ‘soup’ around. This beach is accessed by a free boat shuttle at the Positano port.
Via Laurito, 40, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
Treville Beach Club
Located right next to Da Adolfo, Treville is a super duper chic beach club with an excellent restaurant. Their pizza is phenomenal. Warning: their beach chairs should be reserved ahead and are at a going price of around 40 euro per chair (as of summer 2019.)
Tip!: If you want to get a reservation at Da Adolfo, it is a great idea to hang or have lunch one day at Treville, then waltz over to Da Adolfo to make a reservation there for another day. Da Adolfo sometimes avoids phone calls.
Via Laurito, 24, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
Bagni D’Arienzo Beach Club
This lovely and orange splattered beach club is also accessed by boat at the port. Chairs and tables should be reserved ahead. This, although, is very casual and an incredible place to spend the day sunbathing.
Via Arienzo, 16, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
The next time you hit up the Italian peninsula, whether north, south, east, or west, go live your best lettino life!!! It is the ideal answer to all relaxation prayers.