The Italian Almanac

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Naked Abroad

Italians are increasingly fond of baring their bodies but do not have enough opportunities to do so in their homeland, according to the Federation of Italian Naturists. "Italy has not done much for naturism," said Federation President Gianfranco Ribolzi. "We only have about 10 nudist camps and 20-25 beaches where nudists can go". Ribolzi said this is not nearly enough for Italy's growing population of regular naturists, who number 600,000, according to the federation's estimates.

As a result many Italian nudists opt to take their holidays abroad, where there are more facilities, he complained. Spain, for example, has some 200 nudist eaches, about eight times as many as Italy. "The amazing thing is that when you go to nudist beaches in France, Croatia, Spain and Greece you find lots and lots of Italians there," Ribolzi said. "This shows there is a demand here that is not being met".

A recent poll of 500 Italians aged 25-55 conducted by the Osservatorio Alviero Martini institute claimed that 55% of Italian nudists holiday abroad. A surprising 37% of people interviewed in the survey said they had practised naturism at least once in their lives. Ribolzi said the figure of 37% sounded a little high, but he confirmed that nudism is more popular in Italy than commonly thought. He also believes that many more Italians would give naturism a try if there were more opportunities to do so. Ribolzi said Italian society has become much more open to nudism in recent decades, even in the more conservative south.

Italy's highest appeals court, the Court of Cassation, has ruled on several occasions that nudism is fully legitimate in places where it has become the norm. Ordinary courts also frequently acquit nudists dragged before judges for stripping off on beaches set aside for them but within sight of 'normal' beaches. Nudism's popularity in Italy is part of a wider trend growing throughout the western world, experts say. It is estimated that there are around 20 million naturists in Europe.