Italy's beach clubs welcome the return of summer tourists
Hermione Kitson in Pescara

Italy's beach clubs have opened for what authorities believe will be a successful summer after the government waived the quarantine for visitors from the rest of the EU as well as the UK and Israel.

After months of preparations, socially-distanced beach umbrellas and outdoor dining tables are ready to welcome both Italian and international visitors.

Riccardo Padovano is from the Italian Federation of Beach Clubs and said there is a much-needed dose of "Vitamin Sea" after months of lockdown: "There is a desire to return to the sea, to stay in the open air and to socialize after all these months inside."

But for many business owners along the Adriatic Coast, it was an uncertain wait.

Giovanni Posa's Pescara beach club has been in the family for more than three decades. "It was terrible, at a psychological level especially, so now we really hope that the worst has passed, and we can return to normal life," he said. 

For siblings Germana and Mauro Cioffi, the beach club is their livelihood. "We are a family – my parents and my brother work here and we must work to live. The entire tourism sector is crucial. We will respect the rules, but we have to be able to work," Cioffi said.

Preparations have been months in the making. "Under the bigger beach palms, no more than eight people can stay together – and under the umbrellas no more than four people. The rows of palms must be at least four meters apart," explained Padovano.

People sunbathing on a beach southwest of Rome. /AFP/ Vincenzo Pinto

People sunbathing on a beach southwest of Rome. /AFP/ Vincenzo Pinto

It comes as Italy's infection rate starts to decline. On Friday there were 7,567 new cases and 182 deaths, a significant reduction since the peak of the country's third wave of infection.

Next week all but one of the country's regions will be classified as low-risk yellow zones. "We have to stop talking about the virus and start to live again, in serenity," Cioffi said.

From Sunday, a negative test on arrival is sufficient for travelers from the selected countries.

Another beach club owner, Alessio Carrozza, says it is a crucial change that will boost tourism: "We are very happy for these new rules because we have many direct flights from the UK and other European countries to Pescara."

Carrozza added that slowly but surely, 'la bella vita' (in English 'the good life') will return.

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