Almost every corner of Italy seems to offer the perfect opportunity to relax and be near the sea, so it is difficult to narrow down the list when it comes to Italian destinations for summer. Whether you live there or are just visiting, the Italian seaside is a popular go-to to soak up the sun and enjoy those long summer nights.
Sicily is a particularly authentic destination. It is often referred to as a ‘preserved’ part of Italy where mom-and-pop shops are the go-to and you experience it the way it has always been stretching years ago. It is an especially great place for traveling in groups or as a family as the seaside is very accessible and there is always plenty to do. Aside from the more typical hotels, Cefalu, and Sicily in general, offer many different types of accommodations and there are many beautiful villas that you can rent to stay more comfortably all together.
Cefalu has comfortable temperatures in the peak and off seasons and has both the seaside and hills to explore. For the seaside, Lungomare di Cefalu runs along the town, has shallow waters and 8km of golden sand. If you want to go for an adventure, just outside of Cefalu you can explore the Madonie National Park, with hiking routes that wander through the hilltop villages. Very important for family travel, even the pickiest of eaters will be happy in Sicily, with classic Italian staples always available. In particular, however, Sicilian food has Arabic, Greek and Spanish influences and you will commonly see arancini (stuffed rice balls), fresh seafood and cannoli on menus.
In Sorrento, you can experience the scenic cliff top town along the coast that overlooks the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius. The city is lively, with its heart and soul at Piazza Tasso that comes alive at night with families and kids of all ages wandering the restaurant and gelateria-lined streets and enjoying the cool(er) evening air. The food is delicious in Sorrento, with the tomatoes and lemon being especially tasty. For seafood lovers, there is a stretch of the coast called Marina Grande where you can eat incredible seafood and support local family run restaurants.
During the summer, the Cloisters of San Francisco, often considered the most romantic spot in Sorrento, comes even more alive as it hosts art exhibitions and concerts. The most iconic hotel is the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, with its terrace that overlooks the sea and welcomes guests and non-guests. Sorrento is not famous for its beaches, though the closest ones are not too far, such as Cala di Puolo (2km from Sorrento) and Marina Piccola.
For those who want to explore outside of Sorrento, Pompeii and Herculaneum, are a must as they illustrate the strength of Mount Vesuvius that erupted in 79 AD. The Amalfi Coast is also just a drive away, or you can Ferry over to Capri, an exclusive and high profile island that is also popular for day trippers.
Chia is located in the southeast Cagliari Province of Sardinia. Chia has picturesque transparent water and some of the most stunning white sandy beaches, a destination set up for exquisite relaxation. There are not as many activities around Chia, but with beaches such as Porticcilo Beach, Porto Campana Beach and 5’ Abba Durci Beach, you may not stray too far from there. For a little exploration, Chia Tower is an ancient stone watchtower that once protected the village where you can wander down to Porticciolo Beach at the foot of the Tower at the Hotel Torre Chia. Faro di Capo Spartivento is a working lighthouse that you can visit to get a 360 degree panoramic view of the waters of Sardinia. Chia is also a popular destination for golfers, with the Molas Golf Course as well as Pitch and Putt bringing in continuous visitors. Just outside of Chia, there is a town called Pula where you can visit the ancient archaeological ruins of Nora and take a walk along the Nora Lagoon.
The classic image of the seaside in Italy: rows of umbrellas and ideal sandy beaches. That, is Viareggio. Certain sections of the umbrellas are reserved by the same families who have been going there dating back generations and the seafood restaurants have specialties that will be for years to come. Once upon a time, it was known as the ‘destination of the rich’, though it now has expensive but fair prices and reasonably priced accommodation. The main activity is along the promenade Passeggiata Margherita, where you can see Art Nouveau architecture and take a stroll once the temperatures cool down. At the main beach, it is standard to pay for a spot (10-20 euros/day) but worth the umbrella and enjoying the typical Viareggio experience. If you are traveling with kids, driving to the main public (free) beach is a much better option than walking a couple kilometres there in the heat. For fresh food at a fair price, the harbour is a great spot to get some food! If you want to venture outside Viareggio, the nearby cities of Pisa and Lucca are not too far away.