Preserving Italy’s Pristine Beaches: Visitor Limits and Sustainability Measures

Italy's popular coastal destinations, Sicily and Sardinia, are facing environmental challenges due to the influx of tourists.

Italy’s coastal destinations, Sicily and Sardinia, are grappling with environmental issues caused by the surge in tourism. As a result, local authorities are implementing stringent measures to preserve the natural beauty of these regions. The focus is on limiting daily visitor numbers at some of the most stunning beaches, aiming to strike a balance between tourism and environmental sustainability.

In the small village of Baunei, situated in a remote area of eastern Sardinia, efforts to control visitor numbers have been ongoing for several years. However, this summer restrictions are being tightened even further along the coastline overlooking the Gulf of Orosei. Four beaches in Baunei, including Cala dei Gabbiani, Cala Biriala, Cala Goloritze, and Cala Mariolu, have implemented daily caps on the number of visitors. The limits range from 250 to 700 people per day, depending on the beach. To manage the influx, visitors must book their spots at least 72 hours in advance through an app called Cuore di Sardegna (Heart of Sardinia) and pay an entrance fee, which varies from one to six euros. These fees will be used to fund surveillance, parking areas, and the maintenance of paths and toilets on the beaches. 

Stintino, a charming fishing village on the northern coast of Sardinia, is also taking strict measures to protect its most prized possession- the exquisite pinkish coral beach of La Pelosa. This beach, known for its scenic views of Isola Piana and its stone lookout tower, has often been touted as one of Italy’s most beautiful and, consequently draws massive crowds during the peak season. To curb the environmental impact and preserve the beach’s ecosystem, Stinito’s mayor, Rita Limbania Vallebella, has imposed a daily visitor cap of 1,500 people. Visitors must pay a ticket fee of 3.50 euros and make bookings through an authorized website. Moreover, beach patrols are being conducted, and several activities, including dogs, smoking, sand stealing, and the use of beach towels, have been strictly prohibited, with fines ranging from 100 euros.  

Lampeysa, one of the Pelagie Islands in Sicily, is renowned for its crystal-clear blue waters and the stunning Isola dei Conigli beach, which has repeatedly been recognized as one of the world’s best beaches. To manage the high number of visitors and protect the nesting grounds of loggerhead turtles, an entrance fee of two euros has been introduced, and the daily number of visitors has been halved to 350 per time slot. Visitors are required to a specific “beach code,” which encourages them to remain in their designated sunbathing areas unless they are swimming. Sun beds and floating water mats are prohibited, and noise must be kept to a minimum. Plans are underway to ban cars and scooters of non-residents during the peak summer season, and efforts are being made to designate Isola dei Conigli as a protected marine park. 

Other Italian destinations are also adopting similar measures to manage tourism and protect their fragile environment. The island of Giglio, located off the coast of Tuscany, has implemented a three euros landing fee, and cars are only allowed for stays exceeding four days in August. Procida, one of Italy’s car-free islands, is combating the issue of “hit-and-run” day trippers by implementing measures to control visitor numbers.

These initiatives highlighted the commitment of local authorities to strike a balance between promoting tourism and preserving the natural beauty of Italy’s coastal regions. By enforcing visitor limits, implementing entrance fees, and introducing strict regulations, these destinations aim to protect their fragile ecosystems, ensure a sustainable future, and provide visitors with an enjoyable and responsible travel experience. 


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