Why This Italian Town Banned Bikinis (And Other Surprising Laws In Italy)


The laws in Italy might surprise you. Abortion is legal in Italy (though it’s hard to get one). Guns are legal in Italy for anyone over the age of 18, so long as they meet certain criteria. But want to wear a bikini on your next Italian vacation? Depending on where you’re headed in Italy, it might be against the law.

Turns out skin is not in for the mayor of Sorrento, a glamorous resort town near the the Amalfi Coast. The town’s mayor, Massimo Coppola, has instituted a new dress code that bans travelers from walking around in a bikini or with a bare chest in the central areas of town. Offenders will be fined up to €500 ($509).

The reason? Coppola told The London Times that the skimpy attire was causing “discomfort and unease” among the locals who view it as “contrary to decorum and to the decency that characterizes civilized cohabitation.” He was concerned that these actions were impacting the town’s quality of life, “with consequences for its image and for tourism.”

Sorrento isn’t the only place in Italy that bans swimwear like this. The island of Lipari has a law against bikinis, thongs and other swimsuits in the town center. And in Venice, it’s not just the fashion police that will come after you for wearing a swimsuit while sightseeing: It’s prohibited by law.

And wearing a skimpy bikini isn’t the only thing that will get you in trouble in Italy. In recent years, a number of destinations in Italy have been cracking down on bad tourist behavior with hefty fines. In 2019, Rome started fining people for lingering on the Spanish Steps, while Florence penalized hungry travelers who snacked while walking on some of the city’s most historic streets.

Here are a few other surprising things that will get you in trouble in Italy.

• Taking sand from the beach. It’s illegal to take sand and shells from Sardinia’s beaches, and a number of tourists have been fined for the offense, including one French tourist who had to pay a €1,000 fine after trying to fly out of the island with more than four pounds of sand in his suitcase.

• Swimming in a fountain. In 2021, two U.S. tourists were fined €450 each for bathing in an historic fountain in Rome’s Piazza Farnese.

• Sitting on a fountain. And it’s not just swimming in a fountain. Travelers who have dared to sit on the edge of Rome’s Trevi Fountain have gotten fines, too.

• Wearing flip-flops. The seaside destination of Cinque Terre imposes fines for wearing flip-flops, with charges up to a staggering €2,500.

• Picnicking (and more!). Venice is cracking down on a number of bad behaviors with #EnjoyRespectVenezia, a campaign enacted to protect this World Heritage City. Travelers can be fined for picnicking, bathing in the canals, walking around with a bike, feeding pigeons and more.

• Singing. Keep it down in Rome, which doesn’t allow singing on the city’s buses, metro and trams.

• Wearing a miniskirt. Miniskirts are against the law (as well as low-cut jeans) in Castellammare di Stabia, a small town near Naples.

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