My favourite beaches in Southern Italy

  • 1
  • August 4, 2016

I’ve been dreaming of beaches lately…

It’s the middle of winter here in Sydney. I have a cold, I’m sick of the weather and there is no trip to Italy on the horizon. So I’ve been dreaming about summer days spent in southern Italy: cheering myself up and causing myself great anguish in equal measure.

As an Australian who doesn’t live far from some of the world’s best beaches it’s difficult to get excited about beaches overseas. My first encounter was in southern France, and I was seriously underwhelmed as I made my way onto a beach described by Lonely Planet as one of the best in France. Dismay turned to giggles as I found a spot five centimetres away from the next person, moved rocks out of my way to make myself ‘comfortable’ and got hypothermia once in the water (it was June, and technically Summer).

Despite that bad beginning I’ve come to love European beaches, Italian ones especially.

I love the sun loungers with built in shades, and the beach boys who set them up exactly where you want them. So comfy.

Taormina - Isola Bella 9 beach beds

I love the beach bars that make delicious panini, great coffee and even serve alcohol if you want it! So civilised.

Procida 1 beach bar

I love the boardwalks that save your feet from getting roasted as you walk to the sea. So considerate.

Mondello 3 boardwalk to water

I’ve even come to love the flatness of the sea, so perfect for quiet contemplation. No getting dumped here!

And even though the concept of personal space sometimes goes out the window, Italian beaches are the perfect place to people watch.

There’s always a dark-skinned chap of advanced years holding court, usually from a chair he keeps there for that purpose (don’t even think about sitting in it!).

Calla Paula 2 Puglia man holding court

And you’ll always find a gaggle of nonne gossiping and secretly (or not so secretly) watching everything that goes on with eagle eyes, ready to report any wrong-doings.

Calla Paula 1 Puglia people chatting

There’s always the stoic beach entrepreneurs selling just what you need at any particular moment – yes I really do need some cold coconut right about now!

And I really love that there’s no body shame – bikinis for everyone!

So as I’ve been dreaming, I’ve put together a list of a few of my favourite beaches (and coves) in Southern Italy, in no particular order.

Mondello beach, Sicily

Mondello is Palermo’s beach, and has lots to love: soft white sand, crystal clear water, a beach club and that amazing mountain backdrop.

Mondello beachMondello beach

Isola Bella, Taormina, Sicily

Although it has creatures that sting, Isola Bella is indeed bella! Plus, handsome young chaps are available to take you for a jaunt around the coastline if you get bored with all that relaxing.

Isola Bella beach Taormina

Kalura near Cefalu, Sicily

I love the faraglioni, the abandoned fort, the steps that go straight into the sea, and the private nooks for relaxing. This is part of the Hotel Kalura.

Kalura beach CefaluKalura beach CefaluKalura beach CefaluA private beach at Cefalu, Sicily

A private cove attached to a villa we rented in Cefalu for our honeymoon. Read more about our week at Il Gabbiano here.

Il Gabbiano Il Gabbiano Cala Paula, near Polignano a Mare, Puglia

A 10 minute stroll from Polignano a Mare, it’s the perfect sport for a morning dip. And so pretty it hurts.

Cala Paula Polignano a Mare Puglia

Gallipoli, Puglia

The perfect way to cool off after a day of sightseeing and a lazy lunch. Read about our day trip to Gallipoli here.

Gallipoli beach, Puglia

Porto Greco, Puglia

Because it takes a bit of effort to get to. It’s unsignposted on the road and you have to walk down to it or get a boat there. Read about our hilarious day at Porto Greco here.

Porto Greco beach PugliaPorto Greco beach Puglia

Tricase Porto, Puglia

Not particularly special, but we had a lovely afternoon here when we couldn’t find a parking spot for any of the more famous beaches I wanted to go to along this stretch of the coast.

Tricase Porto beach, Puglia

Grotta delle Poesia, Puglia

More a watering hole than a beach, but it’s so pretty! Also un-signposted, you have to know roughly where it is to find it.

Grotta delle Poesia, Puglia

Cala de Pozzo Vecchio, Procida

Go past the cemetery and you’ll find Spiaggia de Pozzo Vecchio. I love it because it’s a small cove that’s relaxed and quiet (but it still has chairs and a beach bar!), with crystal clear water.

Cala de Pozzo Vecchio, Procida

Acquafredda beach near Maratea, Basilicata

Acquafredda makes the list because of the beautiful backdrop and it’s cheap as chips. Seven Euro for two beds and an umbrella for the afternoon, plus free parking.

Acquafredda beach Maratea Basilicata

I do so love a day at the beach….

Do you have a different favourite? Tell me in the comments – I’m always on the hunt for a new gorgeous beach!

Until next time, happy travels,

The Travelling Pantaloni

Passport stamp for Travelling Pantaloni

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