The number of Italian beaches to be given the prestigious Blue Flag award for clean water and pristine sands has increased again this year, the international Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) said on Tuesday.
In 2014, Italy can boast some 269 Blue Flag beaches in a total of 140 municipalities nationwide, compared to the 248 beaches in 135 municipalities recorded last year. Liguria in northwest Italy retained its title as the region with the cleanest beaches (20, the same as last year), followed by Tuscany with 18 (one more than in 2013) and the central Marche region with 17 (one less than in 2013).
Among Italian islands, Sardinia, known worldwide for its crystalline waters and luxury Emerald Coast resorts, lost a Blue Flag while Sicily gained two, for a total of six Blue Flag beaches each.
Blue Flag looks at sustainable development employing strict criteria on water quality, environmental education and management, safety and services.
Blue Flag has worked with the United Nations' Environment Programme and analysed beaches and marinas worldwide since 1987 to monitor quality and cleanliness.