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Italian beaches usually conjure up images of beautiful women tanning topless with gorgeous views of the Mediterranean and honestly you get a lot of that. Italians dress up to go to the beach, no slumming it for them and the beaches are just as dressed up. There are not too many public beaches in Italy, most you pay a fee to enter and then you pay for access to the beach chairs, umbrellas, cabanas and even your own dressing rooms if you want. The Italians take the beach so seriously that most Italians reserve their spot at the beach for the summer. The beaches are stunning however and maybe they do deserve the sun worshiping Italians devotion. All along the Italian coast you get several different beaches; some with rocky cliffs leading to small inlets of water, others with sprawling sand beaches covered in umbrellas and while every town on the coast of Italy will claim to have great beaches these five are my favorites and offer some of the most picturesque beach going experiences so you can really soak up La Dolce Vita.
Sperlonga is a beach town that is about halfway between Rome and Naples. It is easily accessible via the slow train line towards Napoli and get off at Fondi-Sperlonga and then you just take a quick bus ride to the main city. It’s only an hour and a half from Rome or Naples so many Romans and Napolitanos spend July and August here. It is close enough to either city so that if god forbid they have to work during their holidays it’s an easy commute. Sperlonga has a long beach promenade lined with restaurants and shops and then the soft sand beach runs parallel to it.
The beach is mainly covered in a blend of colorful beach umbrellas and most Italians will spend all day on the beach, not leaving until around eight thirty or nine when the sun goes down. The town is also great to explore and is located on a hill that you can climb that gives sweeping views of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Monterossa is the largest town in the Cinque Terre, the famed five cities of Italy’s Rivera. It is comprised of the old town and the new town which are separated by a tunnel and are about fifteen minutes walking distance apart from each other. The beach in the new part of town is a large sand beach and most of it is actually public (it’s always a pleasant surprise when that happens) and it is a great place to relax after a day spent hiking between the five towns.
It does get crowded so it is sometimes better to slip into old town where there is another sand beach and is generally less crowded. Old town is also a great stop for restaurants as well and last time I ate there I enjoyed my dinner across the patio from the actor who plays Mitchell on Modern Family. Go me and my restaurant selections!
Vernazza is also a town located in the Cinque Terre and it actually is my favorite of all the five towns. It is the fourth largest and is only a ten minute train ride from Monterossa (the train is the best way to travel since cars are only allowed in Monterossa). Vernazza’s beach is much smaller than Monterossa, even smaller than Old Monterossa, but I absolutely love it. It is located on the edge of the main piazza and it’s almost like the town surrounds you on one side and the Tyrrhenian Sea on the other. It is also great to climb all the way to the top of the hill to visit the citadel and the restaurant at the top is pretty darn good.
4. Santa Marinella
(which unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of. Bad past Ashley for not preparing for this moment!)
Santa Marinella is a beach town just outside of Rome, it is about thirty minutes away by train. It is a straight shot out of Rome; you just take the Roma-Pisa line heading toward Cittavechia, the main port. Santa Marinella is a large beautiful beach and well worth the trip. There is a slightly closer beach to Rome, Ostia, but it’s always crowded and the water isn’t too clean. You’re better off going to the ruins there instead. Plus the train ride is along the coast so plus there! Santa Marinella is a great day trip to escape the crowds and the heat of Rome.
Sorrento is a beach town located just south of Naples and just on the other side of the Amalfi coast. It is located on the cliffs above the Tyrrhenian Sea and it makes a great jumping off point to see the highlights of Campania, including Pompeii, Naples and Positano, all of which are just a short but sweaty train ride away (if you are going in summer that is since there is no air conditioning). Sorrento is framed with looming Mt. Vesuvius in the east and Capri in the sea out to the west. You couldn’t ask for a more idyllic location, the only problem is that the beach is super tiny. But the Italians solved this problem by creating places to tan and swim by building large piers equipped with lounge chairs and umbrellas.
Sorrento is an amazing town and well worth staying there if just for the sunsets and the water, but the town also has amazing food. If you are heading to Campania I highly recommend staying in Sorrento and even if you are on a budget there are a lot of cheap camping sites where you don’t even have to worry about bringing a tent.
So those are my five reasons (places) why I love Italian beaches. If you are heading to Italy in the summer I definitely suggest heading to at least one beach during your stay because you will need a relaxing day off from site seeing. And as always if you have any questions or want advice just shoot us a message!
Also all the pictures are mine (Ashley) except the photos of Monterossa and Vernazza. Those belong to Linda, the wonderful woman who my parents might resent just a little bit for taking me to Italy and fueling my obsession with travel! Thank you Linda for the pictures as mine from Monterossa and Vernazza are all foggy because my film camera’s lens was all foggy and I didn’t realize it until after I got home. So they all turned out like this…
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