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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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Nature
Filicudi - Isole Eolie, Sicilia

Alicudi and Filicudi

Alicudi and Filicudi: slow tourism in the wildest of the Aeolian Islands Alicudi and Filicudi offer the chance to lose yourself somewhere new, go off the beaten track, switch off and recharge – the wildest and most authentic islands of the Aeolian archipelago in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea, electricity only arrived here 20 years ago. Sharing proximity with each other and elective affinities, these remote islands, are the perfect destination for slow and sustainable tourism, for holidays that allow you to detox as you indulge in pristine nature. Being in tune with nature is so important for the locals that you can only arrive and depart when sea and wind conditions allow. So set aside your planner and get used to sniffing the air and using the sun as a clock and compass, because the weather here has its own rules. The only device you need to carry is a small torch, even an LED one, which you’ll find very useful after sunset, because there is no street lighting on these islands. Alicudi, no taxis but plenty of donkeys Formerly called Ericusa (named after the presence on the island of heather, which you will see everywhere as soon as you step foot on the land), it is the smallest, westernmost and most remote of the Aeolian archipelago. There are no tarmacked roads or cars here, the only means of transport are donkeys, the scecchi, as the locals call them; otherwise, people generally walk, on volcanic stone stairs and alleyways, paths and mule tracks. Be sure to pack comfortable shoes and no heels! In Filicudi, you will see no sight of ATMs or banks, nightclubs or discos, just a small post office, a hotel and one cosy little restaurant, which closes in mid-September. All nestled in a village with five hamlets, dotted around the port. All around is blissful silence, or rather, the great symphony of nature. The sea: a treasure to discover Alicudi's coastline is high and rugged, often interrupted by volcanic coves and caves. There are two beaches, but only one, a pebble beach, is accessible by land. Here, you will have to take on the sea, climbing like crabs over rocks and coves, or we recommend renting a boat or setting sail on one of the tours around the island. Or if you like snorkelling and diving, the rocks, reefs and seabed, home to dozens of species of fish, are an enchanting setting. The best way to explore Alicudi’s rugged, wild soul is to hike to the centre of the island, to its highest point, Filo dell'Arpa, home to an extinct volcanic crater, at an altitude of 675 metres. This itinerary takes a couple of hours, along a series of rather steep stone stairs, past the church of San Bartolo. Just before you reach the summit, you will come across the so-called Timpone delle femmine, a fortification of natural caves, where the women of the island apparently once sought shelter during pirate raids. Filicudi and the 7 extinct volcanoes Filicudi, which has a slightly larger surface area than Alicudi, about 9.5 square kilometres, is the archipelago's geologically oldest island. It hosts no fewer than seven volcanoes that have been extinct for years and owes its name to what the ancient Greeks called phoinicussa, the dwarf palm, still prevalent on the island's headlands. Its almost 200 inhabitants live in the southern part, in several hamlets connected by a paved road. In Filicudi, only residents are allowed to travel by car, but you can easily explore the island on foot or by scooter. An ancient history, guarded from the depths Once in Filicudi, you will feel the irresistible call of the sea, the main attraction of the island, which has three beaches: in addition to those at the port and Capo Graziano, the most beautiful is the black pebble beach of Pecorini A Mare, a picturesque village on the southern side of the island, where you can relax among the colourful boats and low-lying fishermen's houses. Just above the beach of Cape Graziano – a beach scattered with grey volcanic pebbles, perhaps the easiest spot to take a dip in the sea – you should definitely visit the prehistoric village, which stands in one of the most scenic spots on the island and is home to what remains of 27 huts dating back to the Bronze Age. If you are experienced in diving, with at least a level 2 diving licence and accompanied by an authorised diving instructor, then your visit can continue below the sea level: the seabed at Capo Graziano cradles the most beautiful underwater archaeological site in the Aeolian Islands, where you can discover the wrecks of nine Greek and Roman ships. Exploring the coast, amid the secrets and magic of the sea The best way to experience the sea at Filicudi is by boat: it is the only way to explore secret coves and caves. Among the most spectacular is the Grotta del Bue Marino, the largest cave in the Aeolian Islands, once home to a thriving colony of monk seals, now a magical place of reflections and surprising plays of light. Continuing along the same stretch of sea, you will come across the Scoglio della Fortuna (Rock of Fortune)—with its concave shape that encompasses a natural pool of crystal-clear water—and the La Canna rock, a giant, 70-metre-high sea stack vaguely resembling the figure of the Madonna and child. Many consider this the guardian of Filicudi and recognise its magical aura: legend has it that if you touch it, all your wishes will come true.
Nature
Lipari - Isole Eolie, Sicilia

Lipari

Lipari the sweet, the most placid of the Aeolian Islands At 37 square kilometres, Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands, a World Heritage Site for anyone who has passed through here and, since 2000, for UNESCO as well. The administrative and economic centre of the entire Sicilian archipelago, it is the least “volcanic” of its 7 islands, as evidenced by the weak hydrothermal and fumarole activity in its western part. Take note, however, it is the one that best harmonises the wild Aeolian charm with the convenience of connections and services. The evening nightlife and the flow authenticity of the quarters The urban area stretches between the bars and restaurants overlooking the beautiful Piazza di Sant'Onofrio, also known as Marina Corta, and Via Francesco Crispi, known as Marina Lunga: in between, from May to October, the local nightlife and movida is focused in the evenings. The rest of the island is well-connected to the centre by a network of paved roads, but if you really want to get into its flow of scents, sounds and sights and savour some of that placid sweetness alluded to by its Greek name, Meligunis, we recommend that you go around Lipari by bike or walk around the island, loitering among the dry stone walls of its districts: Canneto, Acquacalda, Quattropani. Like on a film set As well as beach life, if you are planning to delve into the culture and history of Lipari, the advice is to visit sights and monuments by sunset, when the air is cooler and the streets come alive. A must-see is the Chiostro de normanni, part of the first Benedictine monastery built in Sicily at the behest of King Roger II, so well preserved and evocative that you will feel as if you are on the set of a costume film. Equally scenic is the imposing structure of the castle, a veritable acropolis, which stands on a promontory inhabited since the Neolithic period. The city walls ideally enclose the historic centre: in the fortified citadel, an archaeologist's paradise, every nook and cranny in which you stand tells a page of history: it will be like retracing the long list of dominations that have taken place here, leaving an indelible imprint. To explore further, venture through the fifty rooms of the Regional Archaeological Museum, one of the most prestigious in the Mediterranean. Bartholomew's thumb On the other hand, if you are a fan of relics, make a stop inside the Castle at the Cathedral, dedicated to St Bartholomew, the patron saint of the entire archipelago: the church still houses the saint's “sacred thumb”, the only fragment that mysteriously escaped the 833 abduction of the apostle's body by the Beneventois. Now the finger “rests” in a silver reliquary in the shape of a blessing arm, displayed during festivities in honour of the saint. Belvedere hunting For collectors of views, we recommend feasting your eyes on Lipari's most scenic spots, starting from the Acropolis promontory. Worth a souvenir photo, and perhaps even a romantic selfie between sky and sea, the horizon contemplated from Belvedere Quattrocchi, against the backdrop of the Pietra Lunga and Pietra Menalda stacks. Instead, the view from the church of Madonna della Catena in the hamlet of Quattropani, a small, white-plastered Doric-style sanctuary overhanging the sea, is reminiscent of the Cyclades. Finally, the so-called “Semaforo”, the geophysical observatory housed inside a disused Royal Navy traffic light, is worth a hike, from which you will feel as if you are touching both the stacks and the island of Vulcano with your finger. In the mood for trekking... or rather scekking On the other hand, if you pursue the wild soul of the island, one of the most interesting trekking trails is the rather demanding one that leads from the kaolin quarries to the San Calogero thermal baths, along the sulphur fumaroles, a geo-mineral park, up to the 19th-century thermal baths converted into a museum, built on one of the oldest known thermal springs: next to its pools, dating from the Hellenistic period, is a funeral monument of Mycenaean origin. But the most typical experience you can have along these paths is that of scekking, or trekking on the back of a donkey, scecco in Sicilian, proposed by the environmental guides of Lipari: an original way of redeveloping the island's former tenants for tourism, now promoted as guides for slow itineraries, divided into appetising stages where local products can be tasted. Beaches: to each his own stone White and sandy or volcanic and rocky: the coasts and beaches of Lipari satisfy the needs of every bather. You just have to decide which stone to lie on. The entire north-eastern coastline is covered with the dazzling white sand from the pumice and obsidian quarries that descend to the sea: from White Beach, reached by a steep flight of majolica steps, to White Beach, the most fashionable and exclusive establishment, which can only be reached by sea. If you prefer empty and secluded shores, head to the beaches at Pietraliscia or Porticello, or to the Secca della Forbice, in the Cappero area, much loved by the locals.
Nature

Tonnara Beach

Tonnara Beach, pearl of the Vendicari Reserve This is a natural oasis, a virgin territory bathed in Mediterranean maquis and overlooking a spectacular stretch of coastline. The Vendicari Reserve, a protected area in eastern Sicily, offers visitors a wealth of splendid views. Paths end in visions of magnificent beaches lapped by crystal-clear waters. First of all, let’s visit the Spiaggia della Tonnara. The iridescent reflections of the sea On the reserve's 13 kilometres of coastline, the Spiaggia della Tonnara (Tuna Beach) stands out in the southern part, with its long sandy shoreline and a number of scenic rocks. The seabed is shallow and gently sloping, so you will have to walk a little before you get to the point where you can finally dive in. The water ranges in hues from green to turquoise, from azure to a blue that rivals the sky in its beauty. The richness of the marine flora will also capture your attention, characterised here by vast prairies of Poseidonia, the aquatic plants found both on the beach and in the very first few metres of the seabed. The tradition of tuna fishing Opposite the beach is the islet of Vendicari, along the coast is the Torre Sveva and the remains of the ancient tuna fishery with its artefacts of “fishing archaeology”. This is because Sicily boasts a very ancient tradition of catching and processing tuna, which gave rise to these fascinating buildings. The Tonnara di Vendicari fishery, also known as Bafutu, skims the water and today we can appreciate its recently restored ruins. It is 100 metres in length with a series of columns that once supported the roof, and it has a tall chimney. You will also see the old fishermen's houses here. The Sveva Tower is a defensive structure built in 1400 to protect the warehouses where foodstuffs were stored in what was once a thriving port. The impressive building still has its original windows. Amid beaches and footpaths It is a real pleasure to walk or cycle around the Vendicari Reserve, which covers 1,512 hectares in the province of Syracuse, from the town of Noto to Pachino. You will come across other beaches, such as the magnificent San Lorenzo beach, which is very child-friendly and also close to the Spiaggia della Tonnara, of which it is the natural extension. In addition to the section dominated by fine, light-coloured sand, you will also find small rocky inlets and a gem of a beach, Calamosche, a delightful sandy cove bordered by two rocky promontories that shelter it from the tides and create an enchanting natural swimming pool. Along the path leading to San Lorenzo beach, huts have been set up for birdwatching. You will wander among junipers, tamarisks, mastic trees and glasswort, beautiful orchids, thyme and rosemary bushes. Look up to the sky to spot grey herons and large flocks of herring gulls, while a few foxes, hedgehogs, porcupines and wild rabbits may roam among the vegetation. And even further south... Towards the extreme southern tip of Sicily, the Isola delle Correnti is where the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas meet. Untamed and unspoilt, it is connected to Portopalo by a thin sliver of stone. Then head to Marzamemi, a charming fishing village built around its majestic tuna fishery. The central Regina Margherita square with its two churches and old fishermen's houses all around is delightful. Enjoy a leisurely stroll; the entire village is pedestrianised so no cars are allowed to drive through. Sip a coffee while enjoying a view of the sea, in one of the small cafés overlooking the two natural harbours, La Fossa and La Balata. Settle down at an outdoor table in one of the many restaurants and order prawns from Mazara del Vallo, pasta with cherry tomatoes from Pachino and specialities made from ventresca, botargo and bluefin tuna mosciame, which you can also buy in the large emporium in the historic centre.
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