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Italian beach town plans nude weddings

By Julia Buckley, CNN

(CNN) — For people wanting to commune with nature, Sardinia is already one of the best places in Europe to do so.

And now there’s the opportunity to get even closer – by getting married on a nudist beach on the island.

Is Benas beach, halfway up Sardinia’s west coast, looks set to become a destination for naturist weddings after the local authorities opted to let couples say their vows there au naturel.

Luigi Tedeschi, the mayor of San Vero Milis, the closest town, said the authorities got the idea when a German couple wrote to ask whether it would be possible to marry on the beach – which has had a naturist-designated area for the past two years.

But while many might laugh at the idea of exchanging vows as nature intended, Tedeschi – who had the original idea to designate part of the beach nudist – said the reason to open up for weddings was rather more serious.

“I think we’re living in a delicate moment for people’s freedom, with the nationalist movements in Europe,” he said.

“People protest and get rounded up by the police, or they’re intimidated. So I think we need to do things to show that people are free. Most people want freedom, not a regime.”

‘Nothing to do with sex’

The self-declared antifascist, who has been mayor since 2015, told CNN that the central part of Is Benas beach had always been frequented by nudists. “I just made it official, to affirm the right to freedom,” he said – adding that it’s a mixed beach, where naturists and clothed visitors exist together.

“Nudity has nothing to do with sex. For [naturists] it’s a philosophy of life, and is linked to nature,” he added.

“It should be respected – so why not? We have this beach, a place that lends itself brilliantly to naturism. And then we thought, let’s make a beach for weddings. If people want to marry nude, they can.”

He said that the central part of the four-mile beach – which is flanked by two regular clothed areas – is partially hidden. “If anyone has a problem, they can walk on past, or look at the sea,” he said.

Yet Tedeschi said that nobody in the town – whose 2,500 population can increase to 30,000 in summer – has complained.

“There’ve been a few jokes about whether I would have to be clothed [to officiate at ceremonies] or where I’d wear the fascia [the mayoral sash] but they’re just jokes. Fundamentally, everyone is in favor,” he said.

The aim is to create a network of naturist beaches across Sardinia, said Tedeschi. “That way we can create a circuit where [naturists] can find hospitality, and we can attract a very respectful type of tourism.” He said that unlike the clothed strips of the beach, where visitors often leave trash behind, “the area set aside for naturists is always pristine.”

Growing tourism sustainably

The idea is to increase tourism sustainably. “We have to have a cultural exchange – not big hotels, but small accommodation offerings that tell the story of the area. That can only happen if I greet the tourist in my home, feed them something I made – and this kind of tourism [naturism] is perfect for that. They are more in touch with nature.”

The area around San Vero Milis is up there with Europe’s most beautiful coastlines. There are nearly 17 miles of beach within the jurisdiction of the town itself. Is Benas and Is Arenas, the more famous adjacent beach, are backed by vast dunes and a huge pine forest behind them.

The second largest island in the Mediterranean, Sardinia is known for its pristine mountainous inland and its spectacular beaches, which devotees say are every bit as beautiful as bucket-list destinations like the Maldives.

The island is also known for its archaeological remains. Down the road from San Vero Milis is Tharros, a still-standing Roman city dominating a thin peninsula, with ruins from the Phoenician and ancient Nuraghic periods. The area is also home to one of the most intriguing archaeological finds in Sardinia: the Giganti di Mont’e Prama, 28 “giant” stone figures of soldiers, archers and boxers, thought to have been carved by one ancient civilization before being ritually destroyed by the next.

As for what the marrying couples will wear – reports had stated that brides would have to sport a veil – Tedeschi said that it’ll be up to them.

“People can wear what they want,” he said. “As long as the principle is to affirm people’s freedom, it’s all good.”

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