The bluff of the ‘Blue Flag’ beach

ROME – The seal of approval accompanying the famous ‘Blue Flag’ symbol on Italy’s beaches is in fact not to be trusted, the newspaper Fatto Quotidiano reported on Wednesday.

 Just like the miracle of San Gennaro, in which the patron saint of Naples' blood liquefies every year, so does the miracle of the ‘Blue Flag’ beach take place, the newspaper said. The year 2018 in fact promises to be excellent for those who love the sea; this system, which selects the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in Italy, has once again been more than generous, now recognising 368 beaches altogether.

 A related report by consumer protection watchdog body Codacons sent to the Public Prosecutors of Naples and Salerno, Anac and Antitrust, disputes the trustworthiness of the presence of a blue flag on a beach. The association shone the light on 18 standards assigned by the federation.

 They suspect that behind the blue flag signs there lies relationships based on economic gain between the councils that receive them and the foundation that assigns them.

 Codacons calls attention to what it says are many anomalous cases. Along the stretches supposedly ‘blue’ they reported “two distinct types of bacteria, over a certain limit, which reveal sea contaminated by faecal dumping, to the extent that swimming is certainly unadvisable.”

 They used as evidence, for example, Sellia Marina in Calabria which “received the blue flag despite having been reported many times for water pollution.”

 The blue seal of approval is significant as it directs tourists towards supposedly premium beaches with a promise of quality. The consumer association has sought to open an enquiry to certify the validity of the procedures, and also scrutinise the existence of these economic-judicial relationships which perhaps underlie and discredit the awarding of blue flags.