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La spiaggia

The Beach

Doran Beach, practically in my backyard (praticamente dietro casa), curves from the northern California coast to the harbor entrance of Bodega Bay and beyond to the wind-blown cliff known as “Bodega Head.” As much as I love walking and running on our hometown beach, it doesn’t compare with una spiaggia italiana. The chilly water is too cold for a swim (una nuotata), even in the summer. The sea can be rough (mosso), with rip-tides and strong currents. And there are none of the bathing facilities known as bagni or stabilimenti balneari.

If you’re going to the beach (andare in spiaggia) in Italy this summer, be sure to bring sunglasses (gli occhiali da sole), sunscreen (la crema/protezione solare), flip-flops (le infradito) and, if you’re a woman, a cover-up (il pareo o il copricostume) to wear over your swimsuit (il costume da bagno).

You also may want to brush up on some words and phrases that are sure to come in handy:

*Bagnino –- beach attendant, lifeguard

*Sdraio –- beach chair

*Lettino — beach lounger

*Ombrellone –- big (beach) umbrella

*In prima fila –- in the first row, closest to the water

*In riva al mare -– another way of saying close to the shore

*Locale sulla spiaggia -– beach club

*Lungomare –- boardwalk

*Sabbia – sand

*Telo da spiaggia — beach towel

Once you’ve settled in, you can choose your favorite ways to pass the day. You may just want to relax (rilassarsi) and get a sun tan (abbronzarsi). Or you might consider other options: 

IMG_0651*Fare un bagno, nuotare –- take a swim

*Noleggiare una barca –-  rent a boat, perhaps a pedalò (paddle boat) or a motoscafo (speedboat)

*Schiacciare un pisolino – take a nap 

*Costruire un castello di sabbia — build a sand castle

*Leggere un bel libro –- read a good book

*Passare il tempo con gli amici -– pass time with friends

You’ll find the most amenities at a private beach (spiaggia privata), where gli stabilimenti balneari offer changing rooms, concessions and wi-fi. A sign saying “spiaggia libera” indicates a free or public beach.

The best beaches, as judged by more than 30 criteria, such as water quality, available services and safety, earn designations as “Blue Flag” beaches. Click here for a list by regions. 

Enjoy your day at the sea (al mare)! But  remember: Non dimenticate la crema solare!

Words and Expressions

Spiaggia sabbiosa –- sandy beach

Marea –- tide (alta—high, bassa–low)

Acqua di mare –- sea water

Conchiglia – seashell

Salvagente – float, life preserver  

Canotto –- inflatable boat, rubber dinghy

Dianne Hales is the author of MONA LISA: A Life Discovered and LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.