If you’re looking for some summer vacation inspiration, this year’s new rankings have identified the best beach resorts and coastal areas in Italy. The country famously has over 4,700 miles of coastline and 10% of all the Blue Flag beaches in the world. A new survey has picked out the very best seaside resort areas for 2019.
The survey named the beaches in Cilento, located in the Campania province of Salerno, as the best in Italy. Overall, the island of Sardinia came out on top as the part of Italy with the highest number of highly-ranked beaches. Of Italy’s four seas, the Tyrrhenian had the highest number of top-rated beaches according to the rankings in Il Mare Più Bello 2019 (The Most Beautiful Seaside 2019).
Cilento is popular with Italians, but far removed from the tourist crowds. The picturesque setting is located about 60 miles south of the Amalfi Coast. The ranking picked out the coastline and sandy beaches near Pollica as being among the best in Italy, though the Cilento area has no shortage of other unspoiled beaches to explore.
Agropoli is the largest town in the area and is known as the Citadel of the Cilento. The older part of the town is charming and was built on a rocky promontory above the harbor in the 5th century. At the foot of the staircase leading to the old town is the pedestrian area filled with shops, bars and restaurants. During the evening, Corso Garibaldi is usually the scene of a lively passeggiata with many people out for a stroll and a visit with friends. After a day at the beach, it is a wonderful place to sit for an apertivo and enjoy the ambiance. Acciaroli is also a very pleasant seaside village, known for the longevity of its residents. Some 300 centenarians ply the streets and walkways of this little fishing village and 20 percent of them have reached the age of 110!
The southern Tuscan region of Maremma is home to a long stretch of scenic and pristine coastline, dotted with small summer resort towns such as Castiglione della Pescaia, in the province of Grosseto. Receiving high marks in the rankings, Castiglione della Pescaia is a peaceful spot where tiny fishing boats still bring in the day’s catch, mooring alongside gleaming white yachts in the harbor, with wide beaches stretching along the surrounding coast. The area gets few foreign visitors, though locals know that the fine, sandy beaches are among the best in the country, stretching out to the edge of the pine groves, with many small, secluded bays perfect for swimming, sailing and sunbathing.
Also in Tuscany is Porto Ercole, a delightful seaside town on the Argentario promontory. This paradise of rugged green hills, hidden coves and natural harbors is actually an island connected to the mainland of Tuscany by three isthmuses. The lungomare seaside promenade reaches across the bay with a line of restaurants, cafes and waterfront shops. The historic center of Porto Ercole is a stone village that rests below the walls of the Rocca Spagnola and wanders through the narrow streets, staircases and piazzas that make up the old part of the city.
The island of Sardinia is famous for having the kind of brilliant white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters you might expect to find in the Mediterranean, so it’s no surprise that many parts of the island scored highly in the ranking. Seven of the island’s coastal resort areas were recognized, with the highest rankings going to the area around Posada, which is just below Olbia. Standing on a limestone cliff, the village of Posada weaves its way down towards the sea. The area has a dream-like landscape with beautiful sandy beaches to sooth the soul. Posada overlooks the nearby rolling hills and mountains offering visitors many views that can take your breath away. Home to numerous excellent hotels, the area still remains balanced, but not overtaken by the tourist industry and allows the village to retain its charm, even at the height of the season. The town boasts three fantastic beaches – Orvili, Su Tiriarzu and San Giovanni. The beach of Orvili is the longest at more than a mile in length with light sand and the dunes covered with sweet-smelling grasses.
The coastline around Baunei in the eastern region of Nuoro and the northern area of Gallura also featured highly, but it seems that Sardinia had no shortage of fantastic beaches, including the southern portion of the island at Domus De Maria and the beach at Chia.
One of the areas that have really taken off in recent years is Puglia. A longtime popular summer spot for Italians, it is now receiving international recognition. The Adriatic coastline between Bari and Brindisi includes vacation hotspots such as Monopoli and Polignano a Mare and was recognized for its clear waters and the many picturesque rocky coves dotting the coastline. If you prefer a more sedate, but no less beautiful setting, head further south near Lecce, where you will find the peaceful coastlines of the Alto Salento Adriatico and Alto Salento Jonico. Although not technically a beach, the stacks of Torre dell’Orso in Melendugno are a wonder of nature that should not be missed by anyone visiting the area.
Ischia, a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, is known for its mineral-rich thermal waters, long sandy beaches and endless variety that will amaze any beach lover. Spiaggia dei Maronti is one of the most popular when the temperatures dip because the sand is actually warmed by natural steam geysers. The beach at Baia is set within a gorgeous bay renowned for its crystal-clear waters. Such are the wonders of the island that visitors can find countless secluded coves, such as in Baia di Sorgeto, which has its own thermal spring. Punta Caruso is located on Ischia’s northwestern tip and is a secluded rocky spot, perfect for a swim in the clear, deep water. Wedged between Ischia Porto and Ischia Ponte, Spiaggia dei Pescatori is the island’s most popular family beach. Nearby is La Mandra, which is a smaller beach, not too distant from Castello Aragonese. This sleepy beach enjoys great views of the castle and the islands of Vivara and Procida behind it.
Now that there are a few more destinations to add to your list of places to visit in Italy, the real difficulty will be choosing which beach to visit first!