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Beach in Sardinia
Photograph: Shutterstock

You’ll be fined €3,000 for stealing sand from Italian beaches

An advocacy group estimates six tonnes of shingle had been robbed from this island’s beaches in 2021, and authorities urging tourists to follow the rules

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

Italy brags pretty wonderful beachessome of the best in Europe – and from the glistening white pebbles of Puglia to the rugged Amalfi coast, they’re packed with tourists and locals as soon as the sun comes out. 

But now, one popular spot is stressing its rules to help protect its 2,000km-long stretch of dazzling coast. Authorities in Sardinia have announced a warning to tourists who plan on pinching sand, pebbles and shingle from the island’s famous white beaches. 

Getting caught could lead to a €3,000 (£2,500) fine, or even jail time for theft of public assets. While that might sound a bit extreme for pocketing some sand, tourists have been ignoring local rules for years. 

This year so far, several visitors have been caught attempting to smuggle sand and archaeological remains off of the island: one French tourist unsuccessfully attempted to pocket stalagmites and shells, while a German family were found with a kilo of stones. Mad, right?

What’s more, advocacy group Sardegna Rubata e Depredata (Sardinia Robbed and Plundered) estimated that in 2021, six tonnes of sand had been stolen. Now that is pretty hefty. 

‘Only a fraction of the tourists visiting Sardinia spend their time digging up to 40kg of sand each [which what one French couple did in 2019],’ Environmental Scientist Pierluigi Cocco told the BBC. ‘But if you multiply half that amount times five per cent of the one million tourists per year … that would contribute significantly to the reduction of beaches.’

We can’t have that. Sardinia’s beaches are obviously beautiful, but maybe stick to stirring envy with some pretty Insta pics, instead. Who needs all those pebbles anyway?

More on Italy’s battle with overtourism

Italy certainly hasn’t shied away from launching restrictions recently. From tourist taxes in Venice and potentially Lake Como to one-way hiking routes and a ban on ice cream, there are plenty more rules to be aware of if you’re headed to Italy this summer. 

Did you see that these European airports are trialling a new passport-free boarding process?

Plus: It’s official: these are Europe’s best pizzerias. 

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