Home to bustling cities like Rome, fashion-forward Milan, and romantic Venetian canals, Italy is undoubtedly a picture-perfect country. But did you know Italy also cradles some of the most ethereal, less-trodden coastal treasures?
Beyond the crowds of tourists, there are quiet shorelines awaiting your footprints. Dive in as we explore these secluded havens where the gelato tastes just a little bit sweeter, and the sunsets are simply unparalleled.
1. Polignano a Mare: A Coastal Wonder
Nestled on the cliff edges of Italy’s Adriatic coastline lies the jaw-dropping beauty of Polignano a Mare. Envision azure waters meeting honey-hued cliffs, creating a canvas that would make even the best Instagram filters shy away.
While you’re there, catch the daring athletes at the Red Bull Cliff Diving competitions, plunging into the sea from towering heights — talk about heart-stopping thrills! Oh, and here’s a little insider tip: Make sure your visit is entirely about the view, the vibe, and maybe a scoop (or three) of gelato.
Drop off your bags at the luggage storage Polignano a Mare has to offer across the city, and stroll around unhindered. Remember to visit the enchanting Grotta Palazzese, a restaurant set inside a vaulted limestone cave by the sea’s edge. Imagine dining with the sound of waves serenading you!
2. Procida: The Quiet Sister of Capri
Capri? Been there, done that. Now let’s talk about its less noisy, equally captivating sister: Procida.
Floating in the Bay of Naples, this island is where pastel dreams come alive. Vibrant houses cascade down to the sea, creating a painter’s paradise.
The best part? It’s devoid of the tourist throngs that flock to its famous neighbors. While there, take a lazy stroll through Marina di Corricella, a picturesque, traffic-free fishing village. Treat yourself to a seafood feast at La Lampara, offering panoramic views over the bay.
3. Tellaro: The Riviera’s Best-Kept Secret
Close your eyes and imagine a tranquil coastal town, untouched by the typical Riviera razzle-dazzle but brimming with raw, authentic Italian beauty. Enter Tellaro. Here, the streets are well acquainted with the age-old tales of sailors and mermaids. Don’t miss the local folklore about an octopus that saved the village from pirates!
As the sun dips below the horizon, the amber hues of the setting sun paint the town golden. Make your evening memorable by grabbing a table at Osteria La Caletta. Overlooking the ocean, this place serves an incredible spaghetti with clams that pairs perfectly with the serene vistas.
4. Santa Cesarea Terme: A Spa Lovers’ Paradise
A unique blend of Moorish and Art Nouveau architectural wonders, Santa Cesarea Terme offers something more than just a visual treat. The town is celebrated for its therapeutic thermal waters, which bubble up from four natural caves.
Picture relaxing in a warm, soothing spring with ocean views. Pure, unadulterated bliss! And when the spa day winds down, don’t just head back to your hotel.
Explore the town’s historic villas, like Villa Sticchi and Villa Raffaella, which capture the essence of its rich architectural heritage. For a dinner to remember, check out one of the coastal spots where gastronomy meets breathtaking sea views.
5. Pantelleria: The Black Pearl of the Mediterranean
Volcanic energy meets azure beauty in Pantelleria, a striking island that seamlessly fuses African winds with Sicilian flair. Famous for its unique “dammuso” accommodations (referring to ancient, dome-roofed houses), this island is a haven for divers and wine lovers alike.
Yep, ever heard of “Passito di Pantelleria”? This lusciously sweet wine is a product of the island’s volcanic terroir. Dive beneath the waves to discover underwater marvels, including remnants of shipwrecks and vivid marine life.
Once you’ve had your share of adventures, settle down at the cozy eatery La Nicchia, and indulge in traditional dishes like “couscous pantesco”. Sweet, savory, and seaside — the trifecta of a true Italian escape!
6. Ponza: Island of Myths and Colors
If mythology enthralls you, then Ponza’s your place. Legend has it that it was here that the witch Circe ensnared Odysseus with her charms.
Beyond its mythical aura, Ponza dazzles with its colorful harbor and shimmering waters. Rent a boat, explore hidden coves, or simply bask in the sun at Chiaia di Luna, a crescent-shaped beach surrounded by towering cliffs.
7. San Fruttuoso: Where Time Stands Still
Nestled between Camogli and Portofino, accessible only by boat or a steep hiking trail, is the secluded San Fruttuoso. Its tranquility is punctuated only by the bell tolls from the thousand-year-old abbey that stands regally by the sea.
The crystal-clear waters beckon for a dive, not just for the thrill but also to visit the iconic underwater statue of Christ of the Abyss. Up on land, pause and refuel at one of the charming eateries tucked amidst ancient trees.
Sailing Off to Serenity
These Italian hideaways, brimming with beauty and stories, await the discerning traveler. Seek them out, let the Mediterranean winds guide you, and bask in Italy’s lesser-known but equally enchanting coastal gems. Ciao, for now, future Italian adventurers!
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