With the weather warming up our minds are turning to sun, sand and sipping cocktails. We think Italians know what makes a beach special, so here are five of our favourites, each with the boutique hideaway for a sensational stay. Some are a little off the beaten track, but that makes them all the more worth searching out…
Cala Soraya – Isola di Spargi, Sardinia
The island of Spargi, part of the La Maddalena archipelago off the coast of Sardinia, takes a little work to get to, but the effort is rewarded. Far from the crowded beaches of the main island, here beachgoers can enjoy peace and quiet on one of the island’s many secluded coves and sandy beaches. The standout here is Cala Soraya, a stretch of golden sand backed and protected from the winds by a crescent of low shrubs. This is a place to stretch out with a towel – occasional boats will bring a few beachgoers who are in on the secret, but there’s no deckchairs rented by the hour here, no blaring music or overpriced drinks, just the sand and the cool blue sea.
To take advantage of Spargi’s hidden treasures, we recommend the delightful Hotel Relais Villa Del Golfo & Spa a short boat ride away on the main island of Sardinia. That is, if you can tear yourself away from the spa, private pool and two restaurants at this wonderful luxury hotel. You might like to compromise and take the Villa’s private yacht, BonAria, out to the island. To get to Villa del Golfo, fly to Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport on Sardinia and drive half an hour north.
Cala Piccola – Monte Argentario, Tuscany
Here you will find rocky coves and some of the clearest water around. The pebble beaches here surrounding Monte Argentario, a mountain towering out of the sea off the Tuscan coast, are known for their exclusive nature – some of the tiny beaches are only accessible by boat and their locations are closely guarded. There is plenty of breathtaking scenery here and is amazing for photographers. The snorkelling and scuba diving are superb. There are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby to quench your thirst.
Near to Cala Piccola is Argentario Golf Resort & Spa, a wonderful luxury hotel with a golf course, extensive spa facilities and fine dining options amidst chic and contemporary surrounds. To get there fly to Rome or Florence.
Torre Dell’Orso – Puglia
Located in the Apulia region of south-east Italy, the Torre del’ Orso is made up of gorgeous expanses of sand, punctuated by many rocky coves. Inside these coves, swimmers can find a range of pools, nooks and lagoons that make for secluded and relaxed fun. It can be busy in summer not so in Spring and Autumn. You may find yourself with an entire cove to yourself, and with magnificent weather – the temperature around here never dips too much and the sun shines approximately 300 days per year.
From the Torre del’ Orso, it’s a short hop to Furnirussi Tenuta, a boutique hotel with a widely-acclaimed spa and wellness centre. After a good night’s sleep in a stylish, minimalistic suite, swim in the pool, designed to look like a lake, or unwind in the hammam carved into the local stone. The hotel also features a popular restaurant, the produce for which is supplied by the working farm on the hotel’s property. To get to Furnirussi Tenuta, fly into Salento airport, then drive an hour south, via the motorway, to the hotel.
San Fruttuoso – Portofino, Liguria
Another gem that takes a little patience in getting to. This Ligurian beauty is accessible only by a winding trail, or by boat from Rapallo or Santa Margherita Ligure. However, visitors are rewarded by a gorgeous stretch of sand underneath the gaze of the ancient San Fruttuoso monastery. It’s a laid-back beach with much to offer. Terrific for swimming and paddling, so ideal for kids, but one of the real treasures of this beach is the scuba diving and snorkelling further out. A highlight is the ‘Christ of the Abyss’; a bronze statue sunk 17m underwater into the seabed. Erected to commemorate a drowning, it has now become a popular site for divers.
If you plan to visit San Fruttuoso, nearby Hotel Santa Margherita Palace is a gem of a place to stay. Just 10 minutes outside of Portofino, it is a luxury hotel with spacious, modern suites, a relaxed atmosphere and a mini-spa that offers a wide range of treatments. It is also surrounded by amazing seafood restaurants that pick from the fresher-than-fresh catch on the docks. To get to Hotel Santa Margherita Palace, drive forty minutes east on the motorway, after flying to Genoa.
Spiaggia Delle Due Sorelle – Sirolo, Le Marche
This is another beach that is hidden away – it is only accessible by boat or rented canoe from Numana or Sirolo. Located near the Conero Riviera in Le Marche, on the Adriatic, the pebbled beach here is offset by tall, imposing cliffs and cool clear waters that sparkle in the morning sun. The beach is named after the ‘Two Sisters’ rock formation of sea-stacks, visible at one end. This is an untouched beach, free from crowds and an ideal spot for nature lovers. Bring your own towel and book.
For similar relaxation, further inland, stay at the nearby Locanda Rocco. This is a wonderful boutique hotel, located in a 13th century building on the town walls of Sirolo. You will be assured a warm welcome here and the service is very personal. The hotel has a wonderful restaurant that uses local produce and on warm nights you can dine al fresco out front, on the town square. To get to Locanda Rocco, fly into Ancona airport and drive thirty minutes south-west to Sirolo.
Pollara Beach – Salina, Sicily
This is a stunning place to visit and one made famous by the seminal Italian film, ‘Il Postino’ – several scenes were shot here. Access is by a steep trail into what was once a volcanic crater, so probably not one for small children. Ringing the rockpools and clear waters of this beach is part of the village of Pollara that was abandoned and left to the elements, You can sit on the stone ruins and gaze out to sea, or dip your feet in the crystal clear rockpools. Swimmers, snorkelers and scuba-divers will be in heaven.
Equally as unique is the Hotel Signum, also on the island of Salina. This intimate boutique hotel exudes local atmosphere. It also features an amazing spa, the waters supplied by a geothermal spring under the hotel. Treatments happen much in the same way that they did on the island 3500 years ago, with local mud and salts. Foodies will also be pleased with the fine food on offer here cooked by the owner, complimented by a terrace that has gorgeous views of the sea.
To get to the Hotel Signum, fly to Catania and catch a ferry from Messina to Salina.
Have we missed a great beach? Get in touch and we’ll feature your advice in a future newsletter or blog post.