Stretches of Italy's coast near Rome and along the Italian Riviera near Genoa have been closed to bathers in the last couple of weeks after an invasion of toxic algae. Traces of poisonous seaweed have also been found in the sea off Palermo, in Sicily.
The closure of Rome' s beaches must have been a blow to local businesses and sunbathing Romans, although the area which was closed last week, between Nettuno and Ladispoli, is not a stretch we'd recommend to tourists. The beaches nearest to Rome are not terribly pleasant at the best of times: dirty, crowded and lined with ugly and expensive bathing establishments. Far nicer beaches can be enjoyed to the north in Tuscany and further to the south - such as our favourite, Sperlonga.
If you're planning on a trip to the areas affected, we'd recommend you ask your hotel for the lastest information. And be aware that some of the problems cited in the articles below - expensive beaches, jellyfish stings - are perennial.
> The Times: Poison algae and jellyfish drive bathers from the beaches
> The Guardian: Swimming ban hits Italian beaches as toxic algae bloom
> Ansa.it: Toxic seaweed appears in Sicily