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I was born just metres from the sea and was lucky to have grown up where the sea and beach dominated our lives. In fact, the sea was my paddling pool and the beach my playground! As a kid, my skin actually tasted of salty seawater and now the first thing I do when I return is dip my feet in the so-familiar sea I grew up with.  

Apart from a couple of landlocked regions, Italy is surrounded by the sea on both sides and blessed with wonderful beaches from north to south. These are some of my favourites.

 

Amalfi Coast

The chic resort of Positano has two beaches; my favourite, and much admired by artists, is the picturesque Fornillo beach. Well organised with sunloungers, it’s perfect if you don’t want to leave town but still want to enjoy the clear waters of the Amalfi Coast.

Not far from Positano and close to the pretty village of Praiano is Marina di Praia. Surrounded by high cliffs, this small, secluded seaside village is easily overlooked if you miss the small turning. The pebbly beach of this pretty cove is lined with colourful fishing boats and fishermen’s nets, just like the Amalfi Coast I was so familiar with as a child. With the addition of cafés and restaurants, this makes a perfect spot for soaking up the sun, swimming in the crystalline sea and catching up on some much-needed relaxation away from the hustle and bustle.     

 

Of course, I couldn’t possibly ignore the beach of my home village, Minori. Perfect for families, the clean, well-organised beach makes a great base for taking boat trips to Amalfi or Salerno, or you can hire your own boat and explore the quiet hidden coves for a relaxing swim like I always do when I go back. During the summer months, a beach side spa has recently opened, so I’m really looking forward to enjoying a bit of pampering on my next visit.

Cilento 

Known for its wide, sandy beaches, this extension to the Amalfi Coast is a favourite with local Italian families.  The most spectacular beach is Spiaggia del Buondormire, easily reached by boat from Palinuro harbour. A few kilometres away in Marina di Camerota is the cove of Cala Bianca, with its idyllic white sandy beach and inviting turquoise sea. If you’re staying in Cilento, I highly recommend taking a boat trip to see the wonderful grottos so common of this area.

Calabria & Basilicata 

These undiscovered southern regions have beautiful coastlines, with sheer cliffs rising dramatically above rocky coves, charming sleepy seaside resorts and clear, warm waters. The seaside towns of Tropea in Calabria and Maratea in Basilicata (just south of Cilento) are two hidden gems waiting to be discovered for relaxing beach holidays. 

Sardinia

From chic Costa Smeralda in the north to the more rugged south, the island of Sardinia is a must for any sea lover, boasting some of Europe’s most stunning beaches. In the north, around Cala di Volpe, some of my favourites are Spiaggia Capriccioli, Spiaggia del Pirata and Spiaggia dell’elefante. In the south, I love the beaches around Chia for miles of white soft sand.

Tuscany

Tuscany is not only known for its wonderful countryside and medieval towns – it also has a lively coastline which is very lovely. I especially like the olde-worlde charm of Viareggio. With its wide sandy beaches to relax on during the day and long elegant promenade to enjoy your evening passeggiata, it has everything you could possibly want from a traditional Italian seaside holiday.

Sicily

I just love the Aeolian Islands for their simplicity, but incredible beauty. Spiaggia Bianca in Lipari and Spiaggia Rinella in Salina are my favourites, on two stunning islands.