With most of us having to postpone our 2020 summer holidays, I know I’m not alone in developing a potentially unhealthy fixation on a getaway to Italy. I’ve been dreaming of spending warm days at a lido, the Italian word for beach club. Laying out on the beach, sipping an Aperol spritz or two, listening to the waves crash and watching the sunset with a little salt on your skin is certainly part of la dolce vita.
If you’ve ever been to the coast in Italy, you’ve probably noticed the iconic beaches studded with striped umbrellas and loungers. Some lidos have umbrellas meticulously lined up, while other spots are more casual with sun beds rotated in varying degrees designed to ensure optimal UV exposure throughout the day. Sun-beds complete with a shade you can pull over your face are quite possibly the most genius invention to hit the beach since the bikini.
When I first moved to Italy, I wasn’t quite sure how a lido worked. I’ll give you the gist so you’ll know what to expect. Chairs, umbrellas and loungers are rented for the day with the row closest to the water usually being the most expensive. Beach clubs also offer amenities like changing rooms, showers and restrooms. While costs at each beach club will vary, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Food is never excluded from any event in Italy. No one is going hungry with beach club restaurants serving fresh fish and local specialities. There’s usually caffè too. Even on the hottest day in August in Puglia, men in their speedos will drink hot caffè from tiny white plastic espresso cups.
A lido’s appeal is also practical in places like Positano that have uncomfortable pebble beaches. If you want the unforgettable view of Positano’s cliff, settle in on the unmistakable orange loungers on the main beach. Alternatively, take a short walk to Da Ferdinando tucked away on Fornillo beach. After a swim, you’ll want to order the mozzarella di bufala and a spritz.
Arienzo Beach Club is accessed by boat from the main pier in Positano. The ride to get there is half the fun. Be sure to order a sgroppino, a creamy blended lemon cocktail that’s Italy’s answer to the piña colada. When it’s time for lunch, settle in under the shade and order white wine; it’s served with chilled peaches. Knowing you’ve got a wonderful view of Positano ahead of you on the boat ride back makes it only slightly easier to leave.
Want to reenact the glamorous life of Dickie and Marge in The Talented Mr. Ripley (minus the encounter with the murderous title character, of course)? The scene where the bronzed couple are tanning and first meet Tom is filmed at Bagno Antonio in Ischia. With a sandy beach and views of the castle in the distance, this area of Ischia is a prime location.
While sandy beaches can be found in Sorrento, the docks jetting out into the ocean are what makes the lido experience unique. Lidos have extended their square footage by building piers out onto the water. You can rent a sunbed and umbrella on the large platforms, making it even easier to dive into the ocean and tie up your raft.
With its blue and white umbrellas, the rocky setting of La Fontelina in Capri is synonymous with timeless glamour. The wooden sling chairs have been filled by countless stars such as Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot to name a few. Between the elite clientele and view of the Faraglioni, you’ll feel like you just stepped into a Dolce and Gabbana advertisement.
Monterosso al Mare is the last of the five small towns that comprise Cinque Terre. It’s most known for its large beach where you’ll find lido after lido. Don’t forget to order farinata with pesto.
No summer holiday in Italy is complete without a day at a lido.
Photos by Scarlett James at Petite Suitcase
Scarlett James at Petite Suitcase is a Californian living in Europe. She is a photographer and travel writer, focusing on Italy.