I don’t know about you, but come November the short and dark days of winter make me start plotting a sunny escape in the new year and nothing lifts my spirits more than mentally tele-porting myself to the peace and quiet of a beautiful island.
Aside from its stunning countryside, picturesque towns, vibrant cities and art at every turn, Italy counts amongst its many gems a number of relatively unknown islands that beg to be discovered. Here’s a list of my favourite Italian islands and you can combine a city stay with one of these sparkling jewels!
Isola di Procida (Procida Island) photo above
No doubt you will have heard of the islands of Capri and Ischia in the Gulf of Naples that have for centuries attracted visitors, especially the rich and famous and you probably have already been spellbound by their beauty and splendid scenery. But venture to the Bay of Naples smallest island and explore Procida, its best-kept secret. Its pastel-painted houses, narrow pathways and fishing village atmosphere give it an undeniable charm. You can reach it by ferry or hydrofoil from the port of Mergellina or from the Molo Beverello in Naples and the port of Pozzuoli. Just don’t forget to bring your camera!
They are an archipelago in the Adriatic Sea, north of the Gargano Peninsula in Puglia. These islands are a picturesque sight of ragged cliffs, sandy coves and thick pine woods, surrounded by a sparkling dark blue sea. The Tremiti are a very popular diving destination due to the number of coves and underwater caves in the archipelago’s waters. Most tourists are Italian weekenders, although these stunning islands are slowly gaining popularity among overseas visitors too. You can reach them by ferry in summertime from the Puglian towns of Vieste, Peschici, Manfredonia and Rodi Garganico.
Can you see yourself catching this breathtaking sunset on Cala delle Arene, its only sandy beach?
Levanzo is the smallest of the three Egadi Islands off the western coast of Sicily. The island’s little port is hugely picturesque; a small cluster of pale square buildings huddled around a little harbour of an amazing blue sea. If you feel in need to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the scenic beauty of this unspoilt island, then you can easily reach it by ferry from Trapani’s dock. Wash your worries away by swimming in this impossibly blue sea or visit the ‘Grotta del Genovese’ where you will find Neolithic cave paintings.
I can already see myself swimming in that clear blue sea, how about you?
If thoughts of Tuscany instantly conjure up throbbing crowds in Florence, Pisa and Siena, but you long to get away from the tourists and enjoy a slower pace of life, then don’t miss exploring Elba. The island of Elba is a green oasis within the Tuscan Archipelago and also its largest. In the setting of crystalline sea and 150 spotless beaches, romantic villages and breathtaking mountains, this island is rich of pleasant surprises. Although Elba is a National Park of outstanding beauty, it’s probably best known for being the place for Napoleon’s exile and in fact the defeated emperor was confined here briefly after the battle of Trafalgar.
You can reach this idyllic island by ferry from the port of Piombino in Tuscany. I have to confess that I don’t understand Napoleon’s hurry to leave this enchanting island, as it seems to me like the perfect place for a very long exile!
If you would like to find out more about many of Italy’s secret islands, watch out for a future free guide that will also give you an insight on the magic of island living.