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Spending your holidays by the sea in Italy means discovering iconic seaside resorts and landscapes. From the coves of Sardinia, to the glamorous resorts of the Amalfi Coast. Speaking of about 8 thousand kilometres of coastline with a variety of breathtaking, wild and pristine beaches. Dive into the gentle waves of the Mediterranean and let yourself be soothed by its crystal clear waters.

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The island of Asinara

The island of Asinara: the long history of a magical place The Romans called it the Island of Hercules before it became a land of contention between the Maritime Republics of Pisa and Genoa, then domain of the Savoy, a place of confinement, leper house and prison. The island of Asinara has had a long and troubled history, but almost a century of isolation has made it a still unspoilt natural paradise. Today, a protected marine area to be explored on foot, by bicycle or boat, discovering the wilder and rockier west coast and shallow shores and sandy seabed of the east. Donkey Island According to legend, Hercules grasped the end of Sardinia with his mighty hand, tearing it from the mainland, hence the name, Herculis Insula. Later called Sinuaria for the wealth of gulfs and inlets on its 110 km of coast. Asinara is perhaps a mispronunciation of the Latin or perhaps it refers to the white donkeys that have lived there since time immemorial and still live free on the island. A story that begins in the Neolithic In the Campu Perdu area, in the north of the island is a domus de janas, evidence that these places were inhabited since the Neolithic period. A few wrecks found in the sea remain from Roman times. One is still visible a few metres from the jetty in Cala Reale. Over time, the island had to deal with Arab raids, later skirmishes between Pisa and Genoa for supremacy in the Mediterranean. It was the Ligurian Malaspina who built the Castellaccio here, which dominates the entire gulf from above. The pirate Barbarossa landed nearby to hide between robberies. In 1885, Asinara became a penal colony and the island's inhabitants had to leave. Many of them founded Stintino, then called Cala Savoia. Since then, the island remained inaccessible for over a century. Only since 1998, when the maximum security prison was closed, has it reopened to visitors. Asinara's most beautiful beaches Being a protected reserve, not all beaches on the island are accessible. These can only be admired from afar, Cala Sant'Andrea and Cala d'Arena. Caretta caretta turtles lay their eggs here. Cala Sabina can be reached via ancient mule track. It is 30 minutes from Cala d’Oliva. Near Cala d’Oliva are Cala Murichessa and Cala Giardino. Don't miss Cala di Sgombro at the narrowest point on the island: steep cliff with rough sea on one side, sandy seabed with a calm sea on the other. On foot, by bike, off-road... or swimming! Thebest way to immerse yourself in the Asinara National Park wilderness is to walk around it. But watch out for the sun: there is hardly any shade. Also bring sufficient water because there are only two cafes on the island. In Cala Reale you can hire electric bikes and cars, sailboats and canoes. Or book an off-road tour accompanied by Geomarine Environmental Guides. This is the only way to visit certain areas of the island like Cala Trabuccato and Punta Scorno. A visit to Asinara cannot be complete without a dip in its crystal-clear waters. Not only for a refreshing swim in the water in shades of blue to green, but also to observe the wonderful seabed populated by countless creatures: a snorkelling paradise. During a boat trip it is easy to spot dolphins, even sea turtles. Not only nature: what else to visit Although nature is the dominant feature, there are many human traces to be discovered around the island. In addition to the Neolithic Campu Perdu domus de janas and the Castellaccio ruins, several watchtowers built in the 16th century can be found along the coast. The Ossuary, built to house the remains of thousands of Austro-Hungarian prisoners during the WWI, dates back to 1936. In Cala Reale, there is the Royal Palace, former summer residence of the Savoy family. In Fornelli, you can visit the old prison.
Stintino - Sassari

Stintino and La Pelosa

Between Stintino and La Pelosa, the Caribbean of Sardinia Better than being in the Caribbean is being in Italy. This is Stintino and La Pelosa in Sardinia, where the sea is a spectacle of nature. The most famous beach of Stintino is located on the north-western tip of Sardinia. La Pelosa has water with colours ranging from azure to turquoise, a dazzling expanse of fine white beach and dunes dotted with Mediterranean scrub. But don't stop there, the surrounding area has even more hidden corners that are just as beautiful and less crowded. La Pelosa means where the sea shimmers and has a thousand shades. They call it sa pelosa here, due to the abundant presence of seaweed in this part of the coastline (pelosa means hairy). If you find this annoying, just know that you won't even remember it as soon as you see this beach’s iridescent sea of a thousand shades. The water’s always calm because it’s protected from the tides and the north-west wind by a natural barrier created by the stacks of Capo Falcone, Piana Island and the rocks of Asinara. The Sardinians call the small gulf overlooked by La Pelosa beach inland sea as opposed to the open sea of the westernmost coast exposed to the wind. The seabed here is very shallow and even small children can have fun in complete safety. To preserve the beach’s beauty in the summer months, access is limited and by reservation only. It’s still best to arrive early to avoid the crowds. La Pelosetta and its islets The smaller Pelosetta is just as beautiful as La Pelosa. It’s just in front of the islet on which Pelosa Tower stands, a ten-metre-high Aragonese construction that can be reached on foot by walking along the seabed populated by hundreds of small fish. Just beyond is Piana Island, with the ruins of another Spanish tower. In the past the island was used for seasonal migration, transporting cattle on boats. Le Saline and other nearby beaches The beaches of Stintino, on the east coast, are equally heavenly and almost always much less crowded. The most beautiful is Le Saline, a beach of white pebbles shimmering in the sun. It got its name (saline means “salt pans”) because of its proximity to the salt pans built by the monks of Santa Maria di Tergu in the 13th century. Tonnare beach is also near here. The former tuna fishery is now a beach resort. Those seeking more tranquillity than the crowded beaches will love Cala Lupo and Punta Negra. The very long Ezzi Mannu beach is also not to be missed. If you like wilder beaches and contact with unspoilt nature, the ideal spot is the beach of Pilo, further south. Pilo pond is just behind the shoreline, where flamingos, herons, roseate gulls and kingfishers can be spotted. The wildest cliffs The coastline facing the Sardinian Sea beyond Capo Falcone is even wilder. Instead of stretches of sand, rocks are interspersed with coves here, some of which can only be reached by boat, such as Biggiu Marinu. Others can also be reached by land via paths on the promontory. Make sure to explore Cala Coscia di Donna and Cala Vapore, which lies in front of the wreck of a sunken steamer only six metres from the shore. A stroll in Stintino Established as a fishing village at the end of the 19th century when the inhabitants of Asinara were evicted to make way for the penal colony, it still features low houses overlooking two small marinas. In the past, life in the village was linked to tuna processing, and there is now a museum in the old tuna fishery that was active until the 1970s that recounts the tradition. In the town's two harbours, wooden gozzi, or fishing boats, with lateen sails are moored, a symbol of Stintino. A regatta is also held here at the end of August. Don't miss a trip to nearby Porto Torres, the largest historical centre in the area. Full of clubs and very busy, it has always been an important commercial port and is ideal if you’re looking for a bit of nightlife, beautiful sea and Sardinian tradition. Make sure not to miss the Aragonese Tower. Try the lobster and potato soup After a day of exploring the beaches, dinner is more than deserved. Featuring fish, of course. Stop at one of Stintino's small restaurants to try octopus in garlic sauce or Stintinese-style lobster and potato soup, spaghetti with urchins and sardines in tomato sauce. Feeling brave? Taste u belu, which is tuna tripe. Leave room for dessert, the typical Stintino dessert is tumbarella.
Art & Culture
San Vito Lo Capo

San Vito Lo Capo

San Vito Lo Capo: the Sicilian Tropic On the north-western tip of Sicily, San Vito Lo Capo, with its three-kilometre beach of very light-coloured sand, ends where the Monte Monaco massif rises. Here, one of the island's most beautiful, protected areas, the Zingaro Nature Reserve, begins. Nature could not have been more generous to a place that retains important signs of its past where Arab and European cultures met and merged, continuing to do so today. Among ancient sanctuaries, wrecks and the remains of old tuna nets Almost an island within an island, San Vito Lo Capo lies on the green promontory enclosed by the imposing Mount Monaco to the east and Mount Cofano to the west. Visible in the middle of the countryside thanks to the small temple of Santa Crescenza, a place linked to the devotion of St Vitus. The Fortress Sanctuary, which dates back to the 5th century, is located closer to the sea: it is a fortified church that looks more like a bastion because the threat of the Saracens lasted for quite a while. Also worth a visit is the Tonnara del Secco, active until 1969, located along the path leading to the Zingaro Nature Reserve, behind Mount Monaco, 3 km from the centre: on the seabed in front of the tuna fishery, the wreck of the freighter Kent that sank in 1978, called the ship of the Korans because it is said to have carried holy books. On the west coast, towards Macari and Mount Cofano, dotted with numerous towers (Scieri, Mpisu and Isulidda), for swimming in the afternoon, then enjoy the sunset in the sea. There are no sandy beaches, but the descent to the sea between the rocks is quite easy. In the countryside, you can walk a long way towards Castelluzzo, among cultivated fields and olive groves. The Cous Cous Fest One of the most popular events in San Vito lo Capo is the Cous Cous Fest, celebrating the dish of Maghreb origin made from durum wheat semolina, also popular on the Trapani coast. A festival that went from being a culinary event to a moment of cultural integration celebrating the coexistence and diversity of peoples. Held in the last week of September since the late 1990s, it is a challenge for chefs from all over the world to prepare the best couscous. The side dish is a rich calendar of shows, cultural events, concerts alternating with tastings and visits to the area. Don’t miss the Couscuola, the couscous school, a thirty-minute lesson to return home with the rudiments to prepare this tasty dish that brings the two shores of the Mediterranean together. Mount Cofano reserve Unmistakable is the silhouette of Mount Cofano, in the territory of Custonaci, an area protected since 1997 by the nature reserve of the same name. The mountain is a steep-sided dolomite massif that was formed by the uplift of marine limestone deposits during the Triassic period. The ascent to the mountain is quite challenging, as its morphology suggests, but there is a very nice and easy path that goes all around the mountain, overlooking the sea. The Reserve's caves are interesting, with traces of prehistoric settlements, such as the Mangiapane cave in the Scurati locality, an 80-metre-high cavern, at the entrance of which are dwellings that were used until a few decades ago: one of Sicily's most evocative living nativity scenes is set here at Christmas. Also of interest are the 16th-century towers commissioned by the Spanish kings: from the San Giovanni tower you can see the panorama of the Egadi Islands, and the star-shaped one at the Tonnara di Cofano.
Spiaggia della Tonnara


Scopello and the Zingaro Nature Reserve, Sicily as it once was Scopello is a beautiful coastal village with an ancient history. It stands in front of a handful of stacks that emerge from the water and form a natural amphitheatre of reddish rocks that intensify the blue of the sea. Since at least the 13th century, there has been a tonnara (tuna fishery) concealed in the rock here, which was in operation until the 1980s. Today it is one of the most fascinating places in Sicily, the gateway to a protected area of great naturalistic value, the Zingaro Nature Reserve. The mythical city of Cetaria Like all places of great beauty, Scopello is associated with a myth: the city of Cetaria is said to have sprung up here, so called because of the abundance of fish in its waters (from the Greek word cetos, meaning sea animals such as cetaceans). What is certain is that the place has been inhabited since ancient times, when a population from Asia Minor settled on these shores after the Trojan War; the same people who probably also founded the city of Erice. The Scopello we see today dates back to the 17th century, when the Bourbon kings used the area as a hunting reserve. For centuries dedicated to heavy tuna fishing, in the last 40 years Scopello has now become a paradise for those who love the sea, thanks to its seabed rich in anemones, madrepores and gorgonians where you can dive and swim among amberjacks and tuna, shipwrecks and submerged archaeological finds. The Scopello tuna fishery Nestled between scenic stacks and a rock face, the Tonnara di Scopello is a truly enchanting place. Its construction dates back to the 13th century, when it was just a small, well-concealed building set against the rock. It was expanded in the second half of the 15th century, first by the San Clemente family from Trapani, then by the Society of Jesus, which also built the small church, and finally by the Florio family at the end of the 19th century. Tuna caught along the coast were processed and stored in the complex. Operations ceased with the last slaughter in 1984, and since then the tuna fishery has only been used for marine biology research work. Today, the Tonnara complex is accessible for a fee for visits, including guided tours, which allow visitors to retrace the history of tuna fishing and enjoy the Faraglioni beach. There is a diving centre in the complex, which also offers dinghy excursions along the coast. Scopello's beaches In addition to the Faraglioni beach, there are several beaches and coves on the Scopello coast where you can spend a day by the sea. Guidaloca beach is a large sandy inlet with easy access to the sea, well sheltered from the wind, where the sea is always calm. Here you will find a parking area and a bar, and part of the beach is equipped with deckchairs and parasols. Those who prefer deeper waters where they can snorkel may opt for Cala Bianca, a rocky and wild stretch of coastline, without beach facilities, that can only be reached on foot along a 700-metre path, or by boat from Castellammare. Close to the Zingaro Nature Reserve is Cala Mazzo di Sciacca, with very clear waters rich in sea life, ideal for snorkelling and diving. It can be reached by car and there is only a small bar. The Zingaro Nature Reserve, an environmental victory The Zingaro Nature Reserve stretches along the coast between Scopello and San Vito lo Capo in a series of sheer cliffs interspersed with coves that make it possible to reach the sea. It is one of the rare stretches of Sicilian coastline without a seafront: a road construction site was laid in 1976, but blocked due to protests by environmentalist committees that led to a full-scale march against the work, and in favour of safeguarding the territory, in 1980. The following year, the protected area was established. Today, the Reserve can be explored along three paths, formerly mule tracks, which are about 7 kilometres in total. There is a coastal one, which provides access to charming pebble beaches and the prehistoric Uzzo cave; a mid-coast path to visit Borgo Cusenza, a nucleus of farmers' houses, and the petrified forest; and a high path, which is more challenging and very scenic. Inland, there are three museums (one naturalistic, one dedicated to the sea, one to the peasant civilisation) and an environmental education centre, two equipped areas and some rural buildings in contrada Sughero used for bivouacs, which are only allowed from October to May by making a request to the Reserve management. In the highest part, there are woods of Aleppo pines and holm oaks alternating with Mediterranean maquis that is regaining possession of an area that was cultivated for centuries, and that today, thanks to conservation, is once again a treasure trove of biodiversity.

Favignana island

Favignana, the paradise island with a turquoise sea Favignana, the largest of the Egadi Islands, is a cluster of shallow bays with a turquoise sea, listed as a marine protected area. Its flat coastline makes it easy to get around on foot or by bicycle, so that you can discover a different beach every day. In what used to be one of the largest tuna fisheries in the Mediterranean, a museum has been opened in the harbour bay to retrace the history of tuna fishing. Beaches for all tastes Favignana's beaches can cater for all tastes and needs: that of Praia, near the harbour, Cala Azzurra, Lido Burrone, the Calamoni, in the south-east, are all mainly sandy. The coast of Punta Lunga, the Preveto and Faraglioni beaches, on the other hand, have sand mixed with pebbles. Cala Rossa, on the north-eastern coast, offers both rocks and sand, while Grotta Perciata, Punta Fanfalo and Cavallo are completely rocky. A Marine Protected Area The sea that laps Favignana is included in the Marine Protected Area (MPA) of the Egadi Islands, a marine park that is particularly important not only for its size (54,000 hectares, the largest in Europe), but also for its geographical position: the park is in fact the first point of arrival for algae and oceanic fauna that move with the Atlantic currents, a flow of water that rises to the surface just near the Egadi Islands with its important biological richness. The MPA aims to preserve the fauna, which is particularly rich in protected or vulnerable species, including the monk seal, bluefin tuna, sea turtle, dolphin, sperm whale, sharks, manta rays and various species of fish and molluscs. To enjoy the sea, take a boat with the local fishermen who organise excursions to the caves and fishing-tourism activities: many of them are former tuna fishermen who can tell you how the tuna fishing took place. The stone quarries of Favignana For centuries, calcarenite, improperly called tuff, a very compact, light-coloured building stone, was quarried on Favignana. The quarrying has left deep traces everywhere, particularly in the north-eastern area, of open quarries that, now abandoned, are used by the inhabitants to make vegetable patches and gardens protected from the wind where fruit trees such as figs, almonds and citrus fruits grow. Some quarries near the coast have become convenient descents to the sea or have created extravagantly shaped pools: where they are slowly being re-naturalised, they create striking environments. Go and see Cala Rossa, where quarrymen have left tall tuff columns that resemble those of a cathedral. What to do in Favignana On the island you can take long, easy walks both along the coast to explore the beaches, and in the hilly part towards the Fort of Santa Caterina, an ancient watchtower rebuilt by Roger II the Norman and later used by the Bourbons as a prison. Today it is an extraordinary observation point for the entire archipelago and the western coast of Sicily. Visit the museum built in the former Florio factory, one of the largest ancient tuna fisheries in the Mediterranean, which houses an exhibition with videos and evidence of tuna slaughter, as well as a room with archaeological finds. From the port of Favignana you can set off on an excursion to the island of Levanzo, where the sea is possibly even more transparent and inviting. On this island, of particular interest is the Grotta del Genovese, where a number of paintings and engravings dating back to the Neolithic period can be seen, including the silhouette of a tuna, an animal that has always been important to the communities that have lived on these islands. The cave can be reached on foot, but you must first contact the attendant at the harbour, or by boat. Fishballs, steaks or tartare: tuna is served The main ingredient of Favignana cuisine is tuna, which is fished between May and June and eaten as tartare, tasty fishballs or grilled steaks. There are also specialities such as spaghetti alla bottarga (tuna roe) and tuna carbonara. In the restaurants you will also find pasta with sea urchins, Egadi lobster and plenty of other fish, and there is no shortage of cous-cous, as is the case throughout eastern Sicily. For dessert, try the granitas in various flavours, also accompanied by brioches, cannoli and cassatas that go well with a glass of Marsala.
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