If you think that you have to spend a fortune to enjoy a beach holiday with pristine waters and white powdery sands and head to the Caribbean, think again. Italy has not only beautifully preserved old towns and villages, outstanding architecture and charming lakes, but it also boasts endless coastlines and beaches to rival the Maldives!
Many of you have probably been longing to escape to the seaside and the start of a very ‘chilly’ summer in UK and I’m sure that the list below will get you inspired to discover these sparkling gems that can be combined with a city stay. Try and avoid the months of July and August when the majority of Italians will descend on them, as well as other tourists in search of sun!
Here’s 5 of the most beautiful ones:
1. Marasusa Beach, Tropea, Calabria
Tropea’s beach is located in Calabria, Italy’s most southerly mainland region (next stop, Sicily) and its balmiest, with more sunshine hours and less rain than anywhere else in the country. Turn around from the shore and you’ll come face to face with sheer cliffs that soar until they form part of Tropea village, a precarious clutch of buildings so perilously positioned it makes you nervous when the wind is strong! But what a vista: in one direction, the Tyrrhenian waters glinting in the sun, and in the other a fairytale town so pretty that soon-to-be-weds will curse the fact they have already put down a deposit on a venue elsewhere!
You can fly from Heathrow to Reggio Calabria via Milan or Rome. Tropea is a 90 minute drive from Reggio Calabria.
2. La Pelosa Beach, Stintino, Sardinia
Near Stintino in northwest Sardinia, La Pelosa Beach with its shallow turquoise waters and the whiteness of its sands is a breathtaking sight. Located to the north of the town, just short of Capo Falcone with the watchtower of Torre Falcone in view, you can easily mistake it for paradise on earth and indeed it’s one of the finest beaches you’ll ever come across in Italy. The seawaters here are rich of fish, making the swims with mask and snorkel an interesting discovery among the beautiful colours of the seabed.
You can fly from various destinations in UK and from Stansted to Alghero and Stintino is only about one hour’s drive away.
3. Cefalu’, Palermo, Sicily
Just one hour’s drive east of Palermo, sitting between its natural bay and the towering rocky granite mass of La Rocca, is Cefalu’. For a small town Cefalu’ offers a great deal, including sandy beaches, winding medieval streets and a picturesque historic town, excellent fish restaurants and above all its unique Norman cathedral. La Rocca (the Rock) is also the town’s most famous natural landmark. On its rocky slopes are the ruins of the Temple of Diana, a sacred site devoted to the goddess of water and at the summit you can see Palermo in the distance.
You can fly to Palermo from various UK airports and Cefalu’ is only an hour drive’s away.
4. Sansone Beach, Elba Island
One of the best beaches of Elba Island in the Tuscan Archipelago, Sansone beach consists of small white shingles which give the sea an exceptional luminous colour and it’s indeed one of the best on Elba. Although Elba may be the third largest island after Sicily and Sardinia, it’s still small and if you want to have this paradise all to yourself, I recommend going from the second week in September to second week in June.
The moment you set eyes on Sansone, you will forget the time and effort it has taken you to get there: a 15 minute walk along a winding track. But if you are staying in Portoferraio, the capital of Elba, it’s well worth searching out this breathtaking beach and enjoy a slice of paradise. The capital of Elba is the principle port of arrival on the island and owes its importance to its beautiful port used since ancient times by the Etruscans and the Romans for the iron trade. It’s a small city rich in history and with a selection of beaches like Sansone, a place worth escaping to from the crowds in Florence, Siena and Pisa!
You can fly to Pisa from various destinations in UK and once there make your way to Piombino, which will take approx. 1 and a quarter hours by car. Catch the ferry from Piombino to Portoferraio.
5. Gallipoli, Salento, Puglia
Situated on the west Ionian coast of Puglia’s Salento peninsula, Gallipoli may not be as famous as its Turkish counterpart, but its history is long and varied, its historic centre a delight and the beaches which flank it superb. The island heart of Gallipoli is home to many impressive Baroque churches and aristocratic palazzi, testament to the town’s former wealth as a trading port. Come here out of season and even in October you can still enjoy a swim in this wonderful sea and have the beach all to yourself! I could swear that these waters and landscape have some kind of therapeutic properties that stay with you long after you have left!
You can fly to Brindisi from Gatwick and Stansted and from Brindisi it will take you about an hour to reach Gallipoli by car.
Who needs to get on a long-haul flight and spend a fortune to experience wonderful beaches and transparent seas, when Italy can offer that and so much more?!
Featured Image: Stintino, Sardinia