As well as been to Rome in August and wondered where every one of the locals are? The truth is that they’re likely in one of these brilliant towns, as Italians in major cities make a mass exodus toward the coastline every summer. Many of the particular well-known beaches get crowded or too touristy, but this list also includes some under-the-radar gems where one can escape the hubbub. From the Italian Riviera for the farthest reaches of Sicily, there are plenty of seaside villages to please travelers looking for pristine beaches, ancient ruins, art work, culture, and delicious cuisine. Exactly why not do as the Romans do and head over to the sea?
Positano – Amalfi Coast
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Positano is one of the most beautiful places on earth. This small town on the Amalfi Coast awes visitors with its pastel-colored houses perched on mountains that rise above the sea. Positano has lived many lives—as part of Amalfi’s maritime republic during the Middle Ages, a major trade route during the Renaissance, a forgotten fishing village, and finally, an idyllic beach town experiencing a modern-day renaissance. John Steinbeck, who lived here in 1953, wrote, “It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” Then again, you might never want to leave.
Ravello – Amalfi Coast
Amalfi may be more famous, but Ravello tops it—literally. French author Andre Gide wrote that it’s “closer to the sky than the sea,” and he’s right. The town is poised high above the Bay of Salerno, and is celebrated for Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, two romantic gardens offering spectacular views of the water. Ravello became famous as the home of the noble families of Amalfi’s 12th century maritime republic. It has also inspired countless artists, including M. C. Escher, Virginia Woolf, Joan Mirò, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Richard Wagner, who is celebrated every year with a music festival.
Capri – Naples and Campagna
The island of Capri was once the vacation spot of Roman emperors and derives its name from the herds of goats (capra in Italian) that once inhabited it. The natural beauty of the Grotta Azzurra is unparalleled and became a symbol of the pastoral Romantic ideal when it was “discovered” by Germans August Kopisch, a poet, and artist Ernst Fries in 1826. A hidden opening in the cave allows light to refract, making the water appear an incredible shade of sapphire blue. Today, the secret’s out and Capri draws crowds of tourists, but it’s worth a trip for the island’s stunning beauty.
Manarola – The Italian Riviera
All five towns that make up the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera are beautiful, but Manarola is the most picturesque. The whole village is built on a foundation of black rock, and colorful buildings hover over the small marina. Manarola was established in the 12th century and features the church of San Lorenzo, built in the 14th century. Stepped vineyards curve around the hillsides that join the five towns. The town produces wine and olive oil, which are readily available at shops in the historic center.
Porto Ercole – Tuscany
When we think about Tuscany, we usually envision rolling hills dotted with cypress trees and Medieval cities, but Tuscany has a coastline too, and a gorgeous one at that. About halfway between Florence and Rome lies Porto Ercole, “Port Hercules,” in the province of Grosseto. The town is the final resting place of Caravaggio, who died there on his way back to Rome to receive a pardon after being exiled.
And the other 5 are:
- Venice Lido – The Veneto
- Portofino – The Italian Riviera
- Sprelonga – Lazio
- Ponza – Lazio
- Acirale – Sicily