When you arrive you might get disappointed or disorientated as you don’t immediately see the sea, instead a long seafront walk (passeggiata) full of stores, bars and restaurants and in between there are the so called bagno or stabilimento balneare which means a sea club/resort. Not exactly a private beach, but you have to pay a fee to get in. The ones in Viareggio, Lido di Camaiore, Forte dei Marmi and Marina di Pietrasanta have beautiful historical signs when I was a kid I have always enjoyed to read their names, some of them are so evocative or exotic: Aloha, Teresa, Martinelli, Nettuno, Balena, Aretusa, Florida, Gioia, Argo, Rossella etc…
What does it include? What do you get? It may vary from place to place, in general you will always have an umbrella, a couple of sunchairs, a sunbed. A clean sand beach and the lifeguard. Facilities as: free toilets, changing rooms with hot shower, wifi, a swimming pool, a spa center, kids entertaiment, more outdoor showers to rinse off and obviously somewhere where you can eat and drink: a bar or even better a restaurant.
Once you will enter in a seaclub you will find a reception or you will have to go all the way down up to the lifeguard place and ask to be given a spot. Do not walk in and lay down your towels and stuff! You will be asked maybe what do you prefer a sun lounge or just sunchairs? A tent? If it is the weekend, it is very likely you will get a quite far location and you wonder why I can not stay in pole position? Locals usually reserve and pay their equipped position in the winter or in early spring for the entire summer or for a month or a couple of weeks but anyway you won’t be allowed to occupy it. It does not matter if the people won’t show up and leave the umbrella empty all day. It is their spot.
Perhaps they have been going to that bagno for many years, generations and generations… and they have finally reached the front row! Nothing you will do even pay extra can convince the attendant to give you the top line!
As you can imagine, each seaclub is more suitable for a certain kind of customer: young people, families, seniors, budget, sportive people, vip, etc…
Your whole day from morning till night can be easily spent at the bagno: reading, sunbathing, swimming, sleeping, walking up and down the sea water’s edge (bagnoasciuga) for some people watching, chatting, playing cards or doing crosswords… Ball games (soccer, tennis, beach volley) are not allowed everywhere…so ask the staff. Surfing?
You might be surprised that some people leave around midday: they return to their house or hotel for lunch, especially families with kids and old people. It is too hot and if you are staying here not just for the day, you do not feel the need to stay everyday all day at the beach. So they will return late in the afternoon, when the sun is not so strong and after the 2/3hours recommended waiting time for the digestion kids can dive in to the waters!
Anyway, it won’t be totally empty. The locals will come to spend their lunch break from work, or the young people who have been partying the night before. You can bring your own lunch and eat it at the umbrella or in some specific areas, not at the bar/restaurant or you can go out somewhere else, even in another sea club. You don’t have to be necessarily an “umbrella” customer to have a meal in these restaurants/bars.
Around 7 o’clock you will see the lifeguard getting ready to close the day: raking the beach, tidying the sunchairs, closing the umbrellas etc…
Some seaclubs have become part of the nightlife and they are opened to everybody with no entrance fee for the aperitivo time or for a special dinner, they become a club for a party with disco or live music or to watch a movie thanks to cinemamareversilia