Halfway through summer, Rome get promised riverside beach

ROME — Summer's half over, but the people of Rome finally have their beach along the Tiber River.

The artificial beach officially was inaugurated on Friday. But thunderstorms and uncompleted details kept Romans waiting until Sunday for a full day of sunbathing and beach volleyball near Marconi Bridge.

Rome's populist mayor, Virginia Raggi, promised the riverside strand months ago. Admission is free, and the beach is set to be open until October.

Critics say the sand and lounge chairs are so far away from the heart of the Italian capital, residents might as well travel a little farther to swim in the Mediterranean Sea at Ostia.

The Tiber's too polluted for swimming. Rats are often seen in the river.

City Hall says creating the beach cleaned up the area, once known for illegal shantytowns.

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