Ahh Italy in the summer time! Long hot days, the beach, cocktails under the warm night sky and it’s socially acceptable to eat more than one gelato a day. Sure, Italy can get quite crowded at this time of year, but I actually don’t care!
Growing up in Australia, I’ve always been a beach girl at heart and throughout the summer months in Italy, the smell of the sea and hearing a Vespa zoom by, warms my heart. And depending on where you are, things like granita or just sliced watermelon, cool you down at the beach clubs dotted along coastal towns.
But not everyone heads to the beach in summer and if cities, lakes or mountains are your thing, then Italy is still the place to be! There are so many options on where to spend your summer holiday in Italy and I’ve compiled a list of tips from locals in the know – my friends who live (or practically live) in Italy and have sure seen their fair share. Including my own, here are 30 tips (with a couple of destination double ups!) to tease and taunt you into spending summer in bella Italia!
Georgette Jupe, Girl in Florence
1. Porto Ercole, Monte Argentario (Tuscany)
For… A laid back, yet chic beach holiday in part of Tuscany’s prettiest peninsula.
Local tip: My favorite area to base from was most definitely Porto Ercole, a small village with plenty of charm and a perfect place to base. We stayed at Argentario Golf Resort and Spa which was dog-friendly. Nearby attractions include the bottarga pici at a fisherman’s cooperative in nearby Ortobello, otherwise on the mountain I loved Ristoro La Sorgente for their meaty Maremma dishes, and don’t miss a trip to organic cheese farm, La Parrina 25 minutes inland.
2. Capo Vaticano & Tropea (Calabria)
For… Stunning beaches and a long coastline, plus wonderful local food.
Local tip: A car is the best way to visit. For lush luxury, stay at the chic Villa Paola otherwise budget travelers would love the sunset views at B&B Valentino, located in the area of Capo Vaticano. Best restaurant? Hidden find – Donna Orsola without a doubt, where antipasto platter is something to literally write home about. 3. Verona (Veneto)
For… A taste of local life in the Veneto region, wonderful food and wine, plus plenty of boutique shops.
Local tip: Get a craft cocktail at hip spot Archivio that whips up cocktails such as the ‘Oaxacan Rita’. See an opera in Verona Arena and stay at the beautiful Corte Realdi Verona, which has elegant apartments in the centre of the city. Rick Zullo, Rick’s Rome
4. Peschiera del Garda (Veneto)
For… Cooler air, with lake and mountain views.
Local tip: Treat yourself to the quiet luxury of Hotel La Ali del Frassino. Big, comfortable rooms, full spa services, and a world-class restaurant.
5. Lipari (Sicily)
For… Island-style relaxation and the freshest seafood anywhere.
Local tip: Take a sunset boat tour to watch the volcano on Stromboli erupt against the night sky.
6. Levanto (Liguria)
For… A little of both – the mountains and the sea.
Local tip: Rent an eBike for a relaxing ride through abandoned railway tunnels on your way to the nearby village of Bonassola for a beachside lunch.
Catherine Simes, You Can Take the Girl out of Bradford
7. Capo Vaticano (Calabria)
For… The clearest, bluest sea waters and dramatic cliff top scenery. Right at the toe of Italy’s boot, much of Calabria remains pretty undiscovered by outside tourism and the coastline is remarkably unspoiled making it ideal for a relaxing summer beach holiday.
Local tip: The beautiful town of Tropea is just 30 minutes away. Try Pimm’s Restaurant for spectacular sea views. 8. Isola Polvese (Umbria)
For… A nature lover’s paradise, perfect to escape and unwind. Take a passenger ferry to reach this tiny island in the middle of Lake Trasimeno – no cars are allowed. Swim in the lake, canoe, take walks or just sunbathe on the beaches.
Local tip: While many people come for a day trip from other resorts on the mainland, stay on the island itself to really appreciate the peace and tranquillity. The Fattoria Il Poggio hostel has stunning views, hearty meals and very friendly staff.
9. Montalcino (Tuscany)
For… Medieval towns, jazz and wine. Maybe not an obvious summer destination, but I would visit Montalcino at any time of year. A wonderfully well-preserved medieval hill-top town and home of the justly famous Brunello wine. With views of the Val d’Orcia Natural Park from its medieval walls and surrounded by vineyards, the town makes a great base to explore the region and sample the local wines. The town’s annual Jazz and Wine festival takes place every July.
Local tip: Read Isabella Dusi’s Vanilla Beans and Brodo before you visit for an insiders view of village life. La Taverna Grappolo Blu comes highly recommended for delicious Tuscan fare, try the plate of three different types of crostini just to start.
Nardia Plumridge, Lost in Florence
10. San Vincenzo (Tuscany)
For: Quiet beach vibes set beside a pine tree forest.
Local tip: Lunch at Il Bucaniere restaurant, a beach shack-style space overlooking the sea serving up the freshest mussels plus crisp rose wine from nearby Bolgheri region. The octopus isn’t bad either.
11. Ortigia (Sicily)
For: the most stunning Baroque architecture this side of Lecce. On this tiny island off the coast of Siracusa, bicycle is the best mode of transport to see the sights.
Local tip: Visit the daily food market on Via de Benedictis. Stop by Fratelli Burgio store to sample spicy salami and the creamiest ricotta that you’ll never forget.
12. Santa Maria al Bagno (Puglia)
For: Swimming in the southern Italian turquoise waters within a quaint rocky cove.
Local tip: Stop by Bar La Pergola (Piazza Nardò, 3) for an espresso and pasticciotto, a local short crust pastry with custard style cream made of egg yolks and a hint of zesty lemon, before returning to the beach to top up your tan.
Diana Simon, Browsing Italy
13. Alpe Devero (Piemonte)
For: When you’re looking to escape from the heat and crowds at the beach.
Local tip: Visit charming villages like Crampiolo – the scenery here is spectacular!
14. Alghero (Sardegna)
For: Beaches with the most mesmerizing shades of blue!
Local tip: When in Alghero make the drive north to Stintino. Having lived in Hawaii, I have seen my share of beaches but there is nothing that compares to La Pelosa beach – it has been voted the Top 5 beaches in Italy.
15. Positano (Campania)
For: Our home away from Rome, where we spend summers lazing either on our terrace or the beach in Fornillo and you can too!
Local tip: While the main beach in Positano is where the majority of visitors hangout, we prefer the rustic and easy-going cheap generic klonopin atmosphere at Fornillo. Plus, the prices are more reasonable here.
Gillian McGuire, Gillian’s Lists
16. Capri (Campania)
For: Celebrities on super yachts and designer shops on Via Camerelle, and so much more!
Local tip: Order a picnic online from Ristorante Michel’Angelo, pick one of the carefully selected destinations and spend the afternoon far away from the crowds.17. Ponza (Lazio)
For: A dramatic sunset on this rugged island located midway between Roma and Naples.
Local tip: Summer sunsets on Ponza are colorful and showy. Book a table at Orestorante near the port and Il Tramonto in the Campo Inglese neighborhood for both the stunning sunset views and great food.18. Venice (Veneto)
For: Sailing on the Venetian lagoon.
Local tip: Escape the heat and the crush in Piazza San Marco and sail the lagoon with Mauro on his traditional wooden bragozzo, the Eolo.
Annie Ojile, Personalized Italy
19. Sperlonga (Lazio)
For: An excellent summer holiday locale if you are looking for somewhere chic that simultaneously provides an authentic Italian feel. Also a worthwhile day trip from the Eternal City!
Local tip: After you have soaked in the Italian sun head up to the quaint historic centre for a gelato and mix in with the locals as they do their daily passeggiata. Our go to place to eat in the historic center is Gli Archi. 20. Rome (Lazio)
For: A must at anytime of the year. During the summer months it can get hot but with its unique location between the sea and mountains it generally cools off beautifully at night.
Local tip: We recommend touring early in the morning and late in the afternoon to beat the heat and make sure to always book your skip-the-line entrances in advance. The best way to stay cool and see everything in timely fashion, is with a Vespa tour of Rome. Of course we’re head over wheels for Scooteroma!
21. Positano (Campania)
For: An escape to the wonder that is, the picturesque Amalfi Coast – place that is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. There’s so much to offer here especially during the summer months. It’s the epitome of La Dolce Vita!
Local tip: Make Positano your home base and do excursions via car and boat from this pastel colored village on the sea. An amazing, yet affordable place to stay is this hidden gem (but not for long after this article!) La Tavolozza. Family run with 5 star views at the fraction of the cost.
Elena Ciprietti, @elenaciprietti
22. Camogli (Liguria)
For: Funky aperitivo with an unparalleled view of the coast.
Local tip: Don’t miss the bar, Dai Muagetti while you’re in town.
23. Bogliasco (Liguria)
For: Mussels and trofie al pesto under the stars, overlooking the charming seaside town. Where the locals go!
Local tip: Head to Mellow Yellow for a unforgettable meal.
24. Portofino (Liguria)
For: Hike off all the focaccia you’ll be enjoying during your time in Liguria to the top to the historic Castello Brown. Incredible view of Portofino’s colorful houses.
Local tip: A visit to Portofino wouldn’t be complete without exploring the Castello Brown.
25. Monopoli (Puglia)
For: The perfect Puglian base to visit the towns of Polignano al Mare and Alberobello. Monopoli has great little restaurants, bustling nightlife and a load of beach clubs to choose from.
Local tip: Enjoy burrata wherever you see it on the menu. The best we found was in the small family run delicatessens scattered about town.
26. Villasimius (Sardegna)
For: Untouched beach waters that will blow your mind!
The southern tip of Sardegna and the coastline east of Cagliari, boast some of Italy’s most spectacular and pristine waters. Punta Molentis and Cala Sinzias beaches are not to be missed in this part of the world!
Local tip: Be sure to try the fregola. Similar to Israeli style cous cous, this Sardinian pasta specialty is best served with seafood. For deluxe accommodation with private beach access, stay at Pullman Timi Ama.27. Gaeta (Lazio)
For: A real Italian coastal experience that isn’t overrun by foreign tourists. Gaeta is a pretty seaside town conveniently located between Rome and Naples and you can get there by train in about 1.5 hours from either. From the local cuisine (seafood heavy of course and then there’s the famous tiella, a savoury pie dish usually filled with octopus among other things) to the beach clubs and old town featuring an eclectic mix of neo-gothic, barley and neo-classic architecture, Gaeta is the true pearl in Lazio’s coastline.
Local tip: For late night drinks head into Gaeta Vecchia (the old town) and mix with the locals at Kasa Incanto or Radio Bottega.
Saskia Balmaekers, Ciao Tutti
28. Favignana (Sicily)
For: From the port of Trapani you can actually see Favignana shimmering at the horizon, but it seems a whole other world if you set foot on it. This small Sicilian island is the perfect version of paradise, with sandy beaches, an intense blue sea, hidden coves and – best of all – everything is reachable by bike.
Local tip: The colourful little port is the perfect place for an evening stroll, which finishes best at Camarillo Brillo for an aperitivo. Make sure you taste the innovative fish dishes at Sotto Sale in Favignana town, a restaurant run by two Fiorentini DOC who love to spend the summer down here. As do I now too! 29. Ostuni (Puglia)
For: East beach access to suit the fussiest of beach lovers. Puglia is perhaps my favourite region in Italy, especially in summer when beaches are always within easy reach. The only worry you wake up with is which side to head to for perfect beach weather. To alternate beach visits I love going to Ostuni, the little white town overlooking the countryside and the sea.
Local tip: Wander around without any fixed plans, enjoy fresh burrata and mozzarella at Mozzarella & Co, sip a Malvasia at Casbah Art Cafe or choose one of the many gelato flavours of Cremeria alla Scala (all around Piazza della Libertà).
30. Maremma (Tuscany)
For: Where you can meet real cowboys, the colourful creations of Nikki de Saint Phalle and soak in natural hot springs. Nothing beats Tuscany – I will never stop loving the Tuscan hills, the vineyards where the grapes for the best Chianti are sunbathing and the charming hilltop villages. The best – and less visited part – of Tuscany is La Maremma, in the deep deep south.
Local tip: The best of this small part of Tuscany in summer are the excellent beaches. There are so many to explore but my favourite is Cala Violina.
So what are you waiting for? Get planning and packing!
Signing off from Trastevere (dreaming of warmer days that aren’t too far away!)