Italy has within its borders an immense variety of coastlines, seascapes and beach holiday destinations.
We go from some of the most fashionable, popular, sought-after, prestigious and consequently expensive seaside resorts in the world, like the island and town of Capri in the south and the enchanting village of Portofino in the north, to places which, although just as beautiful, have been left out of the main trail, sometimes because they just happen to be on the wrong side of the country and its coast: the eastern side of the peninsula of Italy, the Adriatic Sea. And for this reason they are much cheaper.
I’m talking about Puglia, the region where you can have the unique experience of staying in the trulli.
And I’m talking about Abruzzo. Here are beaches for families, like Marina di Vasto and San Salvo Marina, and wild coasts, like Punta Aderci, a nature reserve extending for 700 acres of great scenery, starting at Punta Penna Beach and ending at the mouth of the river Sinello.
In Abruzzo, just behind the marine resorts, coves and bays, the territory is punctuated by stunning hillside hamlets, villages and towns. White and cream houses tumbling down a dark, rugged mountain, surrounded by vineyards and Mediterranean vegetation, adorned by medieval churches and Renaissance palaces, colonnades, frescoes, piazzas and fortresses. All this a short distance from great national parks in the highest peaks of the Apennine Mountains range, which are home to bears and wolves.
The Italian Riviera, much longer than the French Riviera, extends from the French border at Menton (Mentone in Italian) to La Spezia in Italy, covering the whole coastline of the Liguria region.
The Italian Riviera, which has always been a favourite holiday haunt of royalty, aristocratic families and artists, enjoys an exceptionally favourable climate, one of the best in the whole Mediterranean basin, a sign of which is its rich and flowering vegetation. Here are, among many other resorts, Portofino, Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, Levanto, Portovenere, Lerici, the major port and one of the most important naval bases in Italy of La Spezia, and the five Cinque Terre villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore.
Hotels in these towns and areas are almost on the beach or rocky coast, or amidst splendid Mediterranean vegetation.
Just after the part of the Italian Riviera known as Riviera di Levante is the north Tuscan coast, with Versilia Riviera, famous for their very long, extremely wide and sandy beaches and their fashionable clubs and nightlife. Hotels, guesthouses, Bed&Breakfasts, holiday rental houses, apartments and villas, in short all types of accommodation abound.
Viareggio is the main town and resort of Riviera della Versilia. Here also are yachting harbours, shipyards, pinewoods, and Viareggio Carnival.
Viareggio and the rest of Versilia have the stunning natural backdrop of the Apuan Alps mountains, a geological wonder, made of marble. This is the world’s most important area for marble production, the precious, white Carrara marble used in the art schools and sculpture laboratories of Pietrasanta, the world’s capital of marble working.
Michelangelo used this marble for his statues, but not just that: true Renaissance genius, combining intellectual with manual work, he worked in the marble quarries, designed the road from the marble quarries in the mountains to the sea, supervised the building of the road and laboured as a navvy.
This is Tuscany, after all, and Viareggio is in close vicinity to cities of art of international renown liked Pisa, Lucca and Florence.
There’s no shortage of hotels in the Versilia Riviera, from the splendid Grand Hotel Royal which has always been a landmark in Viareggio to the many small B&Bs that line the coast of Lido di Camaiore and Marina di Pietrasanta, to the luxury accommodation of Forte dei Marmi. There are plenty of holiday apartments everywhere, too; and some hotels offer apartments as well as rooms and suites.
Another cosmopolitan holiday hotspot in Italy is the area of the Sorrento Peninsula and the Amalfi Coast, on the southern Tyrrhenian Sea, near the city of Naples.
In the town of Sorrento it’s easy to find apartments as well as hotels, in the city centre by the sea and on the hills and promontories overlooking it and commanding great, amazing views. Guest houses, pensions, residences compete with the swimming pools of hotels with panoramas stretching from the Mount Vesuvius – the volcano whose eruption destroyed the Roman city of Pompeii, a site unique in the world which you can visit – to embrace the whole of the magnificent Bay of Naples.
On the Amalfi Coast, the town of Amalfi itself boasts 5-star super-luxury hotels with vertical views over the sea or dominating from the top breathtaking vistas of the Bay of Amalfi and Gulf of Salerno. You can find accommodation in elegant buildings among greenery, lemon groves and wild flowers, as well as in the main square of Amalfi, 100 yards from the harbour.
Positano, called the “jewel of the Amalfi Coast”, is carved on a mountainside and is made up of many terraces and flights of steps descending from the top of the village on a hill all the way down to the beaches.
Villas in pastel colours cling to the hillside, in Positano’s traditional style of graceful archways. Hotels have balconies, solariums and restaurant terraces adorned with bougainvilleas and offering heavenly sea views looking out to the horizon.
In the large Bay of Naples are the islands of Capri, off the tip of the Sorrento Peninsula, and Ischia, on the other side of the bay.
The world-famous Capri hardly needs any presentation, except to say that, besides the fashionable and expensive town of Capri, the island is also home to the less celebrated by equally beautiful town of Anacapri, whose hotels and villas are much more affordable.
The island of Ischia has 6 towns, many lovely beaches, enchanting scenery, and a very ancient castle, one of Italy’s most peculiar castles, built on a small island of volcanic rock near the coast.
Ischia is particularly important for its spas. Its hot springs, rich in minerals, have been tapped for 2,000 years, being beneficial to both health and beauty.
In some of its hotels you’ll find swimming pools with thermal water from hot springs and with jet stream massage, heated water and Jacuzzi, spa & wellness centres, but also solarium terraces with views of the sea from which the great mass of the Aragonese Castle emerges.