The beaches on the coasts of Italy are completely different from region to region, and even from kilometer to kilometer, but most don’t fit the ideal of a beach that I grew up with – miles of wide, open beach and fine sand confronting a turbulent ocean. I have divided most of my life between the (SF) Bay Area and San Diego, so it’s arguable that my viewpoint is definitely warped, but it took some adjustment when I first started traveling around to Italy’s beaches.
Depending on the side of the coast you find yourself on, you may not find wide, open spaces and fine sand, but instead rocky cliffs and “sand” whose grains are the size of a pigeon’s egg. Often these “less than ideal” beaches have the cleanest and clearest blue water though they beg for a water sock to protect your feet.
Some of the most famous and beautiful beaches can be found off the coasts of Sardinia, on the Italian Riveria, in Sicily, and of course in Puglia. Every Italian you talk to has their favorite beach “area” in Italy that they return to time and time again. I have also found that though I love the waves and beauty of the wild ocean I grew up with, I can relax fully when I am in the Mediterranean, and float or swim for hours without tiring or constantly checking for big waves.
On the Gargano coast, the National Park in Puglia I often refer to as the “ankle of the Boot,” there are many little hidden beaches, accessible only by boat. Boats with or without drivers can be rented and many hop around from beach to beach as they go up and down the coast. Especially in popular tourist areas, a “beach drop-off” can be arranged with a boat owner and they will take you to a particular beach in the morning and drop you in the water directly and come back in the afternoon to pick you up.
This is a beach reachable only by boat or by a rickety stairway nestled deep within the landowners’ properties, and not visible or accessible by any public road. It was also nearby to where later we enjoyed our Spaghetti allo Scoglio – Frutti di Mare pasta at our friend’s house.
Even though it’s late evening, it was still warm and light enough to see how beautiful and serene it would be in the daytime. The owners put their boats into crevices high in the rocks so they don’t get carried away by the water or get smashed into the rocks when not in use.
This particular beach also had some tidepools and I loved watching the water spill up and over the rocks. Very hypnotizing.
The light was disappearing as we walked back up the various ramps and staircases to reach the top of the cliff and join our friends for a big pasta dinner!
I’m keeping this beach a secret.
Is there an “ideal” for a beach? Rocky, sandy? How important is space? Beautiful water?