Your Guide to Choosing the Best Beaches in Italy
Andiamo al mare! For many Italians, the seaside is not just dear, but practically a necessity, as pivotal to life as a trip to the mountains in winter for a traditional “white week” get away.
Envision generation after generation setting off for multiple weeks (and for some, multiple months!) to their beloved shoreline to breathe in the subtly salted air, soak up the sunshine, sink into their beach chairs and fall into the stress-free rhythm that the summer season brings.
Beaches in Italy: An Embarrassment of Riches
While the living is easy, the choice can be difficult; Italy has the enormously good fortune of hundreds of kilometres of coastline, along with an attractive variety of islands to choose from. Beginning in the northwest, the Ligurian Coast is dotted with fabulous towns including Portofino, Sestri Levanti and the remarkable Cinque Terre towns Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso and Riomaggiore.
Slightly south from Cinque Terre, chic and relaxed beach towns such as Forte dei Marmi pop up along a stretch of gorgeous Tuscan beaches, while family-friendly posts like Viareggio and Camaiore offer neatly organized beach clubs boasting that classic summer essential: the “chaise lounge plus umbrella” combination, found in bright orange, green, red and striped variations that distinguish each club from its neighbour.
Port towns like Punta Ala and Castiglione della Pescaia not only have impressive yachting inventories, but also parasol pine forests offering a shaded escape from the hot sands of the waterfront. For the sailing set, many attractive ports of call beckon, like the islands of Elba, Capraia and Giglio.
Sardinia offers a more ambitious ocean crossing, as nautical charts cross the wakes of overnight ferries bound for Olbia and Cagliari at opposite ends of the marvellous island. Sardinia’s powder-like sand and azure waters, quiet coves and relaxed vibe constitute a completely different Italy, making it extremely popular in August.
Summer Fun and Outstanding Seafood
Back on the mainland, while tourists pilgrimage to Roma the locals set off for coastal outposts like Ostia and points further south. The Amalfi Coast and island of Capri are famed, but lesser-known gems Ischia and Procida also draw attention. The winding coast of the Sorrentine peninsula offers a series of cliff-hugging towns with colourful beach life from Vico Equense (the so-called “true birthplace of the pizza”) around to Positano and on past Amalfi and Vietri sul Mare.
But the summer fun and outstanding seafood extend beyond Campania, as seaside fun and family gathering points run south to the toe of Italy’s boot, where it meets with magical Sicily. This island has the added draws of a deep culture to discover in Palermo and Siracusa and incredible archaeological sites at Agrigento and Selinunte, not to mention its always colourful history, fabulous beaches and nearby sister islands (the volcanic Aeolian islands, Stromboli, Filicudi, Lipari and Salina to note just a few).
Moving eastward to the heel of the boot, the region of Puglia is a great draw for beach seekers who enjoy plunging into its deep blue seas from rocky outcrops or wading in slowly along its sandy stretches. The eastern coast has a selection of seaside hamlets stretching the distance to Ravenna and on to Venice, where the Lido remains a popular seasonal getaway for Venetians.
Few countries the size of Italy can boast such diverse geography and a wealth of summer destinations for its citizens—and fortunately for us, they are more than willing to share.