Italy's number of Blue Flag beaches continues to rise

The coveted Bandiera Blu status is awarded to Italian beaches with excellent water quality and high environmental standards.

A total of 416 beaches across Italy have been awarded the 2021 bandiera blu (Blue flag) status for high water quality standards.

The prestigious recognition, up from 407 last year and 215 more than a decade ago, comes from the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), which assigns the flags to beaches with "excellent" water quality.

The regions with the highest number of bandiera blu beaches are Liguria, once again in the top spot with 32 beaches; followed in second place by Campania, up one place from last year with 19; and Tuscany and Puglia in joint third place with 17 blue flag beaches each.

The Blue Flag beaches in the Lazio region around Rome are: Anzio, Trevignano Romano (Lake Bracciano), Latina, Sabaudia, San Felice Circeo, Terracina, Sperlonga, Gaeta, and Ventotene.

The FEE agency also takes into consideration the beach’s waste management, recycling, the extent of its pedestrian and bicycle paths and green areas, and the presence of lifeguards.

The annual awards come as Italy's beaches prepare to open up later this week, with covid-19 protocols in place, in time for the summer season.

Last week Italian premier Mario Draghi announced that from mid-May Italy will reopen to international tourists, provided they are vaccinated, recovered or covid-negative, and carry a covid 'green' travel pass.

"The time has come to book your holidays in Italy," Draghi said: “Our mountains, our beaches, our cities are reopening.”