Italy has opened its first women-only beach, away from the prying eyes and wandering hands of the country’s notoriously lascivious men.
The beach at the resort of Riccione, on the Adriatic coast, is also closed to children, with mothers encouraged to leave their offspring with their father or grandparents.
Signs at the entrance to Beach 134 say “No Men”. One sign depicts a macho-looking man in a bathing costume apparently ready with his next chat-up line. But he has a diagonal line across his torso, in a manner similar to signs saying “No Dogs”. Ironically, dogs are allowed on the “Pink Beach”.
“This is not a lesbian beach,” Fausto Ravaglia, the businessman behind the idea to ban men, said. “It is simply for women to be themselves.”
Cinzia Donati, 43, a housewife from Milan, agreed. “I’ve left my husband and son behind — and I feel I’ve arrived in paradise,” she said. The beach was “a really classy place, beautifully clean and well organised. It’s perfect for us women. We are so much better off on our own.”
Mrs Donati said that it was “wonderful to relax, read or doze without hearing some child shouting ‘Mamma, Mamma’ six hundred times — and without men ogling you all the time. Men think they are indispensable, but they are not”.
Mr Ravaglia’s daughter, Francesca, 22, who runs the Pink Beach, said: “Life is still quite tough for women in Italy. Men give us no peace.” She said that at Riccione, “no one stares at you to see if you’ve got cellulite. You don’t have to tie yourself up in a beach sarong to disguise your imperfections. Men are so critical. We can’t all be Miss Italy”.
There is a beauty queen on the beach. Marta Magnani, the winner of the Miss Muretto pageant at Alassio in Liguria, offers beauty tips. The beach also offers lessons in deportment, keep-fit classes, manicures, pedicures, and cookery lessons from Roberta Brescia, the 30-year-old chef, who also prepares the “ladies’ lunches” at the beach cafe.
The fitness instructors are all women, as is the beach DJ. The only men tolerated are a hairdresser and the lifeguard. “You need a man to save women in the sea,” Mr Ravaglia said. “It’s a question of muscles”.
La Stampa said that the “beach harem” reflected a growing demand for female rights in Italy, a country that was still largely a bastion of male chauvinism. “My husband won’t even let me go dancing in the evening,” Mrs Donati said. “Sometimes you just want to meet other women and talk, gossip, exchange ideas. Here I am allowed to be myself.”
“This is an oasis of female apartheid,” said Alice Ghresta, 24, a surveyor. “They should put a eunuch at the entrance, like in a real harem.”
Mr Ravaglia said that as far as he was aware, the beach did not breach Italian laws on sexual discrimination