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THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 2018 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 A palette made of emerald green, cobalt, azure, turqu- oise, aquamarine and the deepest of blues. Scirocco erasing the waves, Mistral painting frothy ones, western winds penetrating into the land, carrying along a pleasant coolness. The Italian peninsula is dotted with picturesque inlets, spectacular bays and coves, high unclimbable cliffs, out-of-reach yet charming slopes rolling into the sea, cobbles rounded by water that transform waves in musical instruments, rising rocks, small corners one can reach only by swimming, comfortable and relaxing stretches of golden sands. It's an ever-changing landscape, able to meet everyone's necessities: some areas are perfectly equipped to welcome families, while others are left the way they are, wild and bare, with nature dominating above it all, giving to visitors the feeling to stand between sea and sky. Or, if you want, you can sunbathe just a stone-throw away from the city, from a hotel by the sea, by your car parked in the shade, from stores to shop in relax or from the many cafés offering delicious refreshment. From North to South, in Italy, there is plenty of choice: going to the sea is a simple matter of personal taste, because the offer is immense and able to satisfy both snorkeling and sunscreen lovers. But what do these gorgeous beaches, that make us long for a summer about to start after a winter of stress, routine and work, tell us? First of all, that Italy has an enormous natural heritage, free and open to all. But they also tell us that, often, we fail to value such a treasure as it deserves: as a real monument, just like the Colosseum, the Torre di Pisa, the temples in Paestum or the Certosa of Pavia. Indeed, it's a treasure that requires constant maintenance and care, that needs to be valued and protected, paying attention to nature and respecting it. And this should be done not only because our beaches have huge economic and employment potential for the country and the quality and sustainability of our tourism depends on them, but also because such a national capital needs to be safeguarded to survive. Last years' numbers tell us Il Bel Paese is the third most visited country in Europe during the summer after Spain and France, with 424 million nights spent in our touristic structures: the sector recorded a Italian beaches like the Colosseum: we must protect them From the director 5.1% growth compared with 2016, thanks to national and international tourists. But, as the saying goes, we can't rest on our laurels, so we should keep investing in our territory and betting on its beauty, something that at least in part depends on our own sense of responsibility and civic duty. Luckily, and in spite of the alarms risen worldwide about global pollution, in spite of those plastic islands floating in the ocean, dirtying our sea paradises, killing fish and endangering biodiversity, there are many positive news. For the past 32 years, for instance, Blue Flags are awarded to the cleanest beaches, telling us about the growth of an environmental culture that goes from quality of the sea to territory management, from filtering systems to waste disposal, from seaside towns' livability to the valorization of nature. This summer, 365 beaches, spread over the territory of 175 municipalities, will fly a Blue Flag on their mast, against last year's 342 in 163 towns and villages. There are 32 criteria to be met to obtain this prestigious title, which are regularly updated to incentivize improvements and the safeguarding of our seas. This year Campania, with the new entry of Piana di Sorrento, Sorrento and Ispani, takes over Marche in Fondazione per l'Educazione Ambientale's list of regions investing the most on their territory and sea, reaching the third place after Liguria and Tuscany. Apulia gains three new Blue Flags (Rodi Garganico, Peschici and Zapponeta), reaching a respectable total of 14. Sardinia has 13, with two new entries, Trinità d'Agultu and Vignola, while Abruzzo obtains 9 thanks to Lago di Scanno's addition, the same number as Calabria, which also gained 2 more Blue Flags this year, Tortora and Sella Marina. Veneto and Lazio keep last year's 8 flags, Emilia Romagna adds one to Cattolica and reaches 7. Basilicata gets 4, with the new entries of Bernard and Nova Siri. Tourism must be sustainable, if we want to guarantee a perfect balance between fruition and safeguarding of our natural heritage and if we want to keep our country beautiful. If it is true that Blue Flags are a guide for all Italian municipalities to embrace sustainability, then the importance of safeguarding the environment should be like a t-shirt tourists pack into their suitcases. This means that, when visiting a seaside town, each and everyone of us should "wear" a respectable behavior towards the territory and its landscapes, the sea and its beaches, just like we are asked to do for monuments and works of art. If we never throw rubbish on the ground when visiting the Uffizi or the Vatican Museums, we neither should we do it on the beach we choose to spend our Italian day of sea, sun and sand. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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