The Lidi di Mortelle complex, located on the Strait of Messina, also dates back to the 1950s, and was conceived as a true linear city that reinterpreted some of the most innovative international architectural trends of the time. Architect Isabella Fara from Palermo dedicated a book to this topic, titled L’architettura moderna va in vacanza. Una città balneare sullo stretto di Messina and published by Lettera Ventidue in 2011. Fara provides a detailed description of these beach clubs and of their “hybrid nature, by which they tend to borrow from different disciplines and naturally result from an assembly of buildings, systems or objects, which are part of a ‘collage city’ that is reassembled by the seaside”.
One of the most iconic and bizarre constructions from the 1960s is the chairlift in Lido di Spina, near Comacchio, in the Emilia-Romagna Region. This one-kilometer-long infrastructure used to run from Campeggio Spina, a campsite in the heart of a pine grove, directly to the beach. It was a comfortable way to reach the coast, even for those who didn’t own a car. With its 127 two-person seats, the chairlift used to take people to the beach in approximately 12 minutes. Apparently, however, it wasn’t a masterpiece of efficiency, since it was dismantled as early as 1974, officially due to problems associated with marine corrosion, but it was probably too expensive to maintain.
A more recent design (the last one in our selection) by Giancarlo De Carlo gave the celebrated architect an opportunity to reflect on the city and on its complex mechanisms. The Blue Moon beach club, which was completed in 2002 in Venice Lido, is a multi-purpose building designed and suitable for use all year round. Its core element is the round pavilion whose top floor is encased in a sleek grid-like steel structure. A spiral staircase stands in the middle of the space and revolves around a 34-meter-tall antenna: a landmark that is visible from all over the Lido.
Italy’s coast stretches for 8,300 kilometers. There are 27,335 beach concessions for “recreational tourism” purposes in the country. It is estimated that 60% of Italy’s sandy coastline is occupied by beach clubs. Moving beyond the nature/culture dichotomy, it appears evident that the architectural design of such places is a prominent feature that determines the country’s landscape. It is also evident that beach culture is a key part of our identity.