Tuesday

26th Sep 2023

Italian beach rules rankle Germans

Italian and German newspapers have exchanged broadsides over beach etiquette in a storm-in-a-teacup spat with shades of the diplomatic row provoked by Italian tourism minister Stefano Stefani in 2003.

The latest argument broke out following the publication of a beach behaviour manual by Italy's Union of Bathing Establishments (SIB), which advised holiday makers to cover up their bodies, avoid excessive drinking and forego hanging up their clothes from parasols, the UK's Independent reports.

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Germany's mass-selling Bild newspaper interpreted the move as an attack on northern European holiday habits, saying "Germans are unable to enjoy themselves" in Italy.

And Turin-based La Stampa fired back saying that to criticise beer-drinking "is a heresy for Germans, not unlike outlawing pizza in Italy".

Some Italian seaside towns already display signs forbidding bikini-wearing outside the beach, with police ordering visitors to cloak flesh.

History repeating itself

The newspaper debate has not attracted any comments from Italy or Germany's political classes so far, but is reminiscent of Mr Stefani's withering criticisms of German behaviour two years ago.

The former tourism minister said that "[Germans] rowdily invade our beaches but in their most widely read daily, Bild, right on cue before the beginning of every season, with a precision that is punctilious to say the least, they never omit to report the number of car thefts in Rimini or even the latest statistics for Mafia victims in Sicily".

The tourism minister also lashed out at socialist German MEP Martin Schulz saying that he "probably grew up amid noisy belching contests after gargantuan beer drinking sessions and huge helpings of fried potatoes".

His words led German chancellor Gerhard Schroder to cancel his holiday plans to Italy at the time, with the Independent noting that the Italian recession is hurting domestic travel within the country in 2005.

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