IN 1953 Benidorm’s mayor Pedro Zaragoza Orts persuaded Francisco Franco to allow bikinis on the local beaches.
Aware that he had to go to the very top to override complaints about bikinis from the Guardia Civil and the Archbishop of Valencia, who wanted to excommunicate him, Zaragoza decided to undertake the eight-hour journey on his Vespa to Madrid.
Here he met Franco, explaining his vision for Benidorm and the need to bring tourists – and their bikinis – to the town’s beaches.
The late dictator was impressed and told him: “If you have any more problems, come directly to me.”
There were no more hindrances to Zaragoza’s plans, recalled his daughter Pepa Zaragoza Ivars in a recent interview with the provincial daily Informacion.
But she also admitted that Zaragoza’s tolerance did not extend to his own family.
“He understood that it was necessary for tourists to be able to wear bikinis,” she said. “But what he wanted my sister and I to do was a different matter.”