As a native Floridian, I've been to a lot of beaches. It's just what us Floridians do.
If we're from the East coast of the state, we'll drive all the way to the West coast to compare and contrast the sand, the water temperature, the ambiance. It's a way of life, really.
Today, I'm sad to say, I visited the ugliest beach I've ever come across.
I went to Viareggio on the West coast, which is a 90-minute train ride from Florence. Ged and I tried to spend a day on this beach about three weeks ago but it ended up raining so we left.
Italian Beaches Are Greedy
Of the three beaches I've been to in Italy so far, all have had "private" sections that are reserved for paying customers.
That's something I'm not used to. The only private beach I've been to was a tiny, secluded spot in a very wealthy area in Palm Beach. And the stretch of beach wasn't long at all.
In Italy, however, these private beaches take up a majority of the shore. There are ropes, fences and signs telling you where you can and can't lay, not to mention the pesky lifeguards who tell you to move or just flirt with you for 10 minutes because they can't take a hint...
Today, I simply walked out to the first bit of beach I saw and set my towel down where other people were laying. It looked pretty public to me. This part of the beach was nice enough. The water looked a little polluted, but the sand was fairly clean and there were no creepers.
Here's a couple of shots I took of that part of the beach:
About an hour and a half later, one of the lifeguards came up to me and told me I had to leave. I complied and he pointed down the beach where the public part was.
After I walked a .25-mile stretch of beach, I arrived to a 50-foot stretch of beach that was packed from end to end with people. This tiny, overcrowded bit was where I was allowed to sunbathe.
I searched for a clean patch of sand but couldn't find one. Cigarette butts, candy wrappers and what looked like a used diaper littered the beach.
I wanted to take a picture as evidence of this sad sight but I was honestly scared to take my camera out because there were lots of shady characters lurking about and the last thing I want is a stolen camera.
I told Ged about this crappy beach, but he couldn't attest to such a thing. He said he usually goes in February when the big carnival happens and in April when the private beaches aren't set up yet.
But in July, it's gross. And I will stand behind that criticism.