Discovering Italy’s shores and seas
With its 7500 km of coastline (approx. 4, 660 mi), Italy is the ideal place for water lovers. The wide variety of its beaches makes it perfect for every type of vacationer in search of nature, fun, and rest and relaxation. The Italian coast, with its countless gulfs, coves and inlets, touristic ports and long, sandy beaches, is truly adapted to the water lover’s every demand. It is chock-full of fishing villages, and coastal cities with sea resorts and day beaches, as well as fishing villages, and is easily reachable by car, train and planes, and vessels large and small.From North to South, East to West, this mountainous land slopes into the rocky, indented coasts of the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas in the west, and toward the softer, sandier shores of the Adriatic in the east. From these seas that wash up upon the “beautiful country” surge two magnificent islands – Sicily and Sardinia – in addition to numerous tiny archipelagos. These include the Tuscan Archipelago, to which Elba belongs; the Archipelago of the Maddalena in Sardinia; the Campanian Archipelago with Ischia and Capri; and finally the Pontine Islands off the southern shores of Lazio. Between the coasts of Tunisia and Sicily, we also find the Pelagian (Lampedusa) and Aeolian Islands – with two active volcanoes, Stromboli and Vulcano – and the Egadi Islands, a natural reserve. Last but not least, in Puglia, there are the splendid Islands of Tremiti.From Liguria to the Maritime Alps (west of Genova) and the Appenine zone of Liguria, the foothills of the Alpine Mountains push out and brush the waves that lap at the Italian Riviera. With their high and rocky cliffs, these rugged coasts are rich with gorgeous nooks, crannies and deep, deep sea-beds. The marvels of nature do not stop there. This area is a paradise for numerous animal species and for humans alike: whether you want to watch nature or seek the thrill of water sports, you can enjoy a variety of activities in both the protected areas of Cinque Terre and Poets’ Gulf.
Southeast of Liguria lie the shores of north-central Tuscany; here, the coasts are lower and sandier even though it comprises the coast of the Apuan Alps, Versilia, littoral Pisa and the Etruscan Coast. All these spots have seen vibrant touristic activity since the 1960s. The rather well-known Islands of Elba and Capraia lie about 20 km (12 mi) off the region’s coast, and although they make up part of the Tuscan Archipelago, they reside in the Ligurian Sea.
Continuing along the shores that line the Tyrrhenian, one finds the Maremma, Lazio and then Campania, in large part low and sandy in character but with random, rocky peninsulas that almost meet the edge of the Pontine Islands.
Going further south, the Bay of Naples eventually opens itself up to the Sea, followed by the Amalfi Coast, the Gulf of Salerno and the high, rocky promontory of Cilento. This wonderfully lofty and jagged terrain continues almost all the way to the Strait of Messina that separates Sicily from the rest of the Continent.The Southern Coasts bathing in the Ionian Sea, resemble the shorelines sitting on the Tyrrhenian Sea: steep and precipitous bluffs where the Appennine Range is closest to the sea, and uniform, consistent where Calabria and Basilicata move toward Apulia, near the mouth of the River Po.
Excluding the promontories of Mount Gargano and Mount Conero, the littoral zone awash in the Adriatic Sea is made up of an immense sandy swathe of land, naturally the location for many seaside establishments.The biggest Italian island, Sicily, edged by a mountainous, serrated coastline in the north and east, and by flatter shores in the south and west. Sicily, too, is covered in natural reserves and breathtaking landscapes. The region is absolutely astonishing, as are all its surrounding islets, where vacationers flock from every part of the world.
It is also in the Tyrrhenian Sea that we find the Island of Sardinia, where the shores are varyingly rocky and smooth. Giant boulders, as well as other islands large and small (e.g. Maddalena, Caprera), make up the off-shore landscape of Sardinia.
ALSO INTERESTING TO NOTE...
Also this year the Federation for Environmental Education (FEE) has conferred to Italy the much sought-after Blue Flag (also known as the Blue Banner) for the beauty and environmental quality of its beaches.
In 2012, innumerable Italian beach locations have been awarded as well, above all those of Liguria and Tuscany. Among 18 Ligurian destinations, those that cannot go without mentioning are Camporosso (IM), Loano and Albissola Marina (SV), Chiavari (GE), and Lerici (SP).
Camporosso (Latin name Campus Rubeum), is a name that drives from the woods and oleanders that run along the banks of the Nervia Stream. From 2001 to 2007 the Italian Environmental League has inserted Camporosso in its famous Blue Guide, in addition to Camporosso’s being given the Blue Banner for 2012.
In Tuscany, Forte dei Marmi, a glitzy Tuscan resort near Versilia, was awarded for the quality of its many beach establishments and for the vibrancy and fun of its nightlife offerings.
On the other side of the Italian Boot, Lignano Sabbiadoro (UD) was recognized this year for being “Blue-Banner worthy.” Lignano Sabbiadoro boasts four impressive water landings: Marina Uno, Marina di Punta Verde, Marina Punta Faro and Darsena Porto Vecchio). Many other locations along the Adriatic also received the Blue Banner prize, all famous for the range of water activities they have offered since the 1960s, including Lidi Comacchiesi (FE), I Lidi Ravennati and Cervia (RA), Cesenatico (FC), and Bellaria Igea Marina (RN).
Among new winners this year is one in Apulia, Amendolara, which owes its name to the production of almonds, which has flourished in this district since antiquity. Amendolara’s beautiful sea is famously characterized by its dazzling reef; this area lies 12 miles out from the little city of Amendolara, and it is also where the mythical Island of Ogigia supposedly resides. Ogigia was the home of the nymph Calypso who famously sang her luring song in Homer’s Odysseus.
Ventotene (LT), long-noted as being an exile for the ancient Romans, is also a Blue Flag winner – its beaches and landfalls like Porto Romano and Cala Rossano, welcome vessels both large and small.
Finally, in Sardinia, the beach at Oristano, and Palau have won this year’s Blue Flag, while in Sicily, Lipari (ME), Pozzallo (RG) and Menfi (AG) have also confirmed their maritime importance.
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