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Blue Flags in Italy

June 27th 2011

Every year an increasing number of countries and seaside resorts submit their applications to gain this award. Termoli, in Molise (featured in the picture) has been awarded his first blue flag this year.

As every year this time all the major tourist hotspots compete to grab the highest number of blue flags they can to increase the popularity and certify the services they offer.

The Blue Flag is an award given by the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education ), which assesses the best beaches and marinas through strict criteria such as water quality, environmental management, safety and services provided close to or within the beach area. To the Blue Flag Programme participate about 3650 beaches and marinas in 41 countries.

Italy has always played a major role in this competition with the number of blue flags increasing every year with 233 blue flags assigned in 2011.

The Italian region with the highest number of blue flags is Liguria with 17 beaches awarded, followed by Marche and Tuscany with 16 each and Abruzzo with 14 and Puglia with 8. Other regions, which may not boast crystal clear water but an excellent range of services are Emilia Romagna which reaches 9. Veneto has 6 flags and Lazio goes down to 4, overcome by Sicily with 6 and Calabria with 5. Also Sardinia has 5 flags, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Piedmont confirm 2 flags, Molise has its only flag with the picturesque beach of Termoli, and there is a new entry assigned to Lombardy with the beach of Gardone Riviera, on the beautiful shores of Lake Garda.

Along with the celebrations about the awards come the controversies. In fact there are lots of complains and criticisms every year after the list of the awarded resorts comes out. In fact, it seems off that regions such as Sardinia or Sicily which have some of the best beaches and Caribbean blue sea water, have so few blue flags (for instance Sardinia had just 2 blue flags last year).

One of the reasons is that the assignment of the award comes under application of the municipality to the programme and the fact that a place doesn't have the blue flag it does not mean that it doesn't deserve it but probably it just means that it didn't apply for it.

Another issue often highlighted rests upon the method of valuation. It seems in fact that FEE does not have any laboratories or instrument to conduct the analysis, leaving all the analysis process to the applying municipalities together with the production of self-certificates. This procedure gives to the sceptics of the programme even stronger suspects.

Nevertheless, the blue flag award is only a minor aspect and criteria to choose your next holiday destination. Italy boasts so many beautiful places besides the 233 places which gained a blue flag. In addition to this there's more to Italy than the beaches such as the amazing countryside of Tuscany or Le Marche, or the stunning mountain resorts of Trentino Alto Adige, Piedmont and Abruzzo or Spa resorts in Lazio or Emilia Romagna, without mentioning all the historical cities and towns. All of this is more than enough to make Italy the perfect destination where to spend our holidays and, why not, considering of buying a second home.



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