What to Expect at an Italian Beach. Most of the beaches are not free but are divided into private beach areas called stabilimenti that can be used for a day fee. Your fee usually gets you a clean beach, dressing room where you can leave your things, outdoor shower for rinsing off, a good swimming area, toilets, and a bar and sometimes restaurant. In the stabilimetni you can rent a lounge chair and beach umbrella too - you'll be assigned a place along the beach with your own chairs and umbrella. Locals buy seasonal passes and thus have the prime positions. If you're planning to use the beach for a longer period, there is sometimes a weekly or monthly pass that you can buy. Lifeguards are usually on duty in the private beach areas. Stabilimenti usually close before sunset.
Free beaches are often found at the end of the private beach areas but may not be as nice and usually won't have restrooms (or a place to change) or lifeguards (although if there's a lifeguard at a nearby private area, he/she will respond to emergencies).
Topless sun-bathing for women used to be common and some women still choose to bath topless, especially in more secluded areas. You will rarely see women in one-piece bathing suits, even older women usually wear a bikini or 2-piece suit.
Beaches are not always sandy but are sometimes pebbly or rocky. Lake beaches are not naturally sandy so they are rocky unless sand is brought in, as has been done in some popular lake areas. Sometimes there is little space for a beach so concrete platforms or terraces are made by the sea and used like beaches, such as this one on the island of Capri.
Blue Flag Beaches in Italy.The blue flag is awarded to beaches based on stringent criteria including water quality, the beach's code of conduct, environmental education and management (including cleanliness of beach and availability of toilets), and safety services (including adequate lifeguards and wheelchair accessibility).