In theory, come August, Italian beaches should become the textbook backdrop for a bit of what us locals call il dolce far niente: the “sweet doing nothing”. But this most chilled-out of settings has proved far from drama-free this summer. For starters, business hasn’t been buoyant over the past few months: be it the country’s looming economic crisis or a few instances of freakishly bad weather, the number of tourists on Italian shores has decreased by a hefty 25 per cent compared to last year. Then came the news last week that swimming was temporarily forbidden on a number of beaches on the Adriatic Riviera. The reason? A very unappealing above-the-limit level of bacteria in the water.
However, perhaps the biggest beachy kerfuffle of the summer came courtesy of ever-controversial deputy PM Matteo Salvini. While on holiday in Adriatic resort Milano Marittima he was spotted getting a policeman to give his son a joy ride on a jet ski – while in service patrolling the coast. Endless debates about misuse of police-force equipment ensued. Gone are the days when politics went on summer break: Salvini’s rebuke came via a press conference organised at the beach club. It seems things are heating up at the bagni this year – and not for the right reasons.