Summer in Italy means going to the beach – but often everybody has the same idea. Sidestep the crowds by heading to some of the country’s lesser-known stretches. Here’s our guide.
Hop on the bus or rent a scooter and head to the far end of the 7km-long (4.3mi) island of Ponza. A few hundred steps down from the parking lot sits Cala Fonte beach. Here, you can get your sun lounger for €1 (from the ferryman of the small wooden boat named Carronte), enjoy views of Palmarola Island, and go snorkelling in its clear waters.
On the quieter side of buzzy Capri is Anacapri, where you’ll discover the Lido del Faro, which claims to be the only place on the island where you can swim from dusk until dawn. It’s just below the lighthouse (faro), the second tallest in Italy.
A short drive from the twists and turns of the fabled Amalfi Coast and its crowded rocky beaches is the Cilento region. Here you’ll find buffalo farms, a vast national park and, at the edge of the picturesque town of Santa Maria di Castellabate, a lovely beach with views of a castle and centuries-old palazzi.
Santa Marinella is close to Rome, and you can get here via a short train ride. This beach can get a little crowed on summer weekends, so plan to visit slightly off season – in either June or September. You’ll have to pay a beach club entrance fee here, but it is well worth it, with the restaurant La Sirenetta and its fried seafood a highlight.
From the tiny port in Positano, take the paved path of Via Positanesi d’America to Fornillo. You’ll discover a small picture-postcard free beach and four private beach clubs each with a cafe and restaurant, plus rental sun beds and parasols.
One Fire Beach, in Praiano, is a lively beach club that prides itself on having the best sunsets. Most of the towns along the Amalfi Coast face south, so when the sun dips in summer it’s behind the mountains. Enjoy it here with a spritz in hand.
Not all of Italy’s beaches are on the sea. In the north of the country, Lido di Lenno, on Lake Como, is well-kept secret among its chic globetrotters. This beach has terrific views of the nearby mountains, and provides a lovely spot for eating and drinking.
Bagni Fiori, in the bay of Paraggi, is billed as the most exclusive beach on the Santa Margherita stretch of the Italian Riviera. It is also one of the largest beach areas on this part of the Italian coastline, which mainly comprises cliffs and rocky outcrops. Pitch up for the day with rented beach chairs and umbrellas.
The deep southern shores of Puglia boast flat sandy beaches and silvery olive groves for miles – and the beach at Torre Canne is a brilliant case in point. This stretch, in a protected natural park, is also close to hot springs for a natural spa experience.