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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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Art & Culture

Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare, white cliffs of Puglia Perched on the edge of a high cliff rising from the Adriatic Sea, Polignano a Mare is one of the most spectacular and popular locations on the Apulian coast. The historic centre of this seaside village is a maze of narrow streets that slope down towards a tiny beach, the Lama Monachile, which cuts the cliff in two. Underneath the town, a tangle of caves invites you to discover a crystal-clear sea. Polignano is also the birthplace of Domenico Modugno, the singer-songwriter of “Volare”, the most famous Italian song in the world. All lanes lead to the sea The historic core of Polignano a Mare, an inhabited centre since Neolithic times, is an expanse of white houses of medieval origin clustered on the cliffs. The village is entered by passing under the 16th-century Arco Marchesale, also known as Porta Grande, which until 1780 was the only point of access to the village that was surrounded by a moat, now hidden by Piazza Garibaldi, with its drawbridge. You can get lost in the narrow streets of Polignano, sooner or later you will land at an overlook to the sea and the surprise effect will be even greater. A selfie at Lama Monachile, a small beach with turquoise water You will undoubtedly find the 13th century Chiesa Matrice, the Marchesale palace, home of the feudal lords, the Orologio palace and the 4 defensive towers. The most photographed place in Polignano a Mare is its turquoise-water beach, Lama Monachile, always very crowded in the summer months: the bridge behind it is built over a Roman bridge of the Via Traiana, the Rome-Brindisi road of antiquity, which passed right through here. Next door, on the promenade, you will see the statue dedicated to the world's most famous Polignanese, singer Domenico Modugno. On the opposite side of town, again with a spectacular sea view, is the beautiful museum of the Pino Pascali Foundation an artist from Polignano who died in the 1960s, which displays contemporary art exhibitions. What to see around Polignano a Mare The ambience of Polignano a Mare can be relished as you stroll along the cliffs and down to the shoreline from which the view of the white city is spectacular. A forty-minute walk in the direction of Nola, between the delightful bays of Ponte dei Lapilli and Porto Cavallo, both ideal for bathing, will take you to the village of San Vito, unmistakable because of the remains of the abbey of the same name dating back to the 9th century, to the time of the Basilian monks who took refuge in these lands to escape the iconoclastic struggles of the Byzantine Empire. A little further on is the quadrangular tower of San Vito in front of a stretch of sea that looks like a natural swimming pool. During the day as well as in the evening, in this idyllic place, which is also full of clubs and restaurants, you will never be alone: Polignano's nightlife reaches here. Caves and cliff diving There are about twenty caves that the sea has created with the force of its waves on the cliff on which Polignano stands: the largest is the Palazzese cave, so called because it is located under a noble palace from which it could be accessed. Today, the palace has been transformed into a five-star hotel that has created restaurant rooms in the natural recesses of the cliff and the cave remains accessible by sea. Some other caves have the most unthinkable names, mostly related to their use over time: that of the Archbishop's Palace is said to have been connected through tunnels to the bishop's palace, that of the Nuns was used by the religious sisters of the hospital. The most striking one is the Ardito, named after its owners, which has a natural column inside that fishermen used to climb up to the village. What to eat in Polignano al mare On one of the many terraces overlooking the reef, in Polignano's many restaurants, you can enjoy year-round dishes of seafood crudités, a mixture of cuttlefish, prawns, scampi and many other fish depending on the season and the catch. For those who prefer their fish well cooked, then the dish to try is rice, potatoes and mussels. Another local speciality is the sweet Polignano carrot, grown right in the area of San Vito Abbey, recognised as a Slow Food presidium. One coffee, but special: with lemon peel and cream If you prefer street food, so you don't miss a minute of the beach, then try the fish sandwich, with tuna tartare, burrata and tomatoes, or the fried octopus and turnip tops, a real treat. At the end of a meal, treat yourself to Caffè Speciale, according to a recipe developed right here in Polignano: it is a sweetened coffee with added lemon peel, cream and amaretto, always served in a small glass.
Nature
Stromboli - Isole Eolie, Sicilia

Stromboli

Stromboli: a trip to the foot of the volcano for complete relaxation The island of Stromboli is the most northerly island of the Aeolian archipelago and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, between Panarea and the Calabrian coast. If you’re planning a holiday to this enchanting destination, you will not miss the imposing volcano Mount Stromboli, one of the most active and perhaps unique volcanoes in the world with its three perpetually erupting craters. Walking on the giant's “skin” The locals have nicknamed the volcano Iddu, Sicilian for “he”, because of its small explosive flashes, repeated at intervals of about 15-20 minutes, and because of its perpetual grumbling and the periodic minor eruptions. Mount Stromboli is a volcano that commands a respectful awe from all who visit: with two-thirds submerged under the surface of the sea, over time humans have built settlements and communities on its back, for millennia we have continued to tread on its sensitive skin, almost teasing it a little. Disconnecting by reconnecting with nature The island is divided into towns, almost all clustered on the north-eastern side, where you will also find the main beaches: Scari, Piscità, San Vincenzo, Ficogrande and the town of Stromboli. On the opposite side, isolated and reachable only by sea, is Ginostra, a picturesque amphitheatre of huts perched on the rock: once a humble fishing village, it is now a unique and rather spartan tourist destination. Before planning a holiday in Stromboli, the first thing to remember is that only residents can drive motorised vehicles and there is no public transport. However, not to worry – it only takes twenty minutes to walk from one end of the town to the other! What’s more, there are several electric taxis that, at modest prices, will take you to your destination along the only kilometre of paved road. Rather than being an inconvenience, the scarcity of vehicles on the road will give you the pleasant feeling of truly being away from it all on holiday. A pitch black night, to count the stars The other thing to note is that there is no public lighting on the island, so we recommend always carrying a torch when you go out at night. The almost total darkness of the night gives an extraordinary brilliance to the canopy of stars twinkling above Stromboli, sure to delight stargazers everywhere and certainly the most romantic visitors. The island also lacks its own source of drinking water, which is transported there by tanker once a week in winter and three times a week in summer. The evening is the best part of the day! At sunset, while visitors in all the seaside resorts enjoy an aperitif, it is the ideal time to experience some of the main excursions. If you are properly equipped, in good health and accompanied by an authorised guide, you can trek up the back of the volcano to the summit, at an altitude of 900 metres, and admire the explosive activity of the craters – from a safe distance! Remember that things can change very quickly at Stromboli: sometimes, due to the conditions of the volcano, groups cannot depart or are forced to stop halfway. Also at dusk, you can head by boat from Scari to Sciara del Fuoco, the steep slope formed by lava, incandescent volcanic slag and lapilli that descends from the crater of Stromboli down into the sea. From the water, you can enjoy spectacular views of this river of fire flowing down the mountain. The black beaches of the Stromboli coastline Summer days should undoubtedly be devoted to enjoying the sea. Much of Stromboli's coastline is marked by high cliffs. The main beaches, almost all with shimmering black sand, are located along the stretch of coast from Ficogrande to La Petrazza. We recommend avoiding light-coloured swimwear. Pleased to meet you, Strombolicchio! A ten-minute walk from the hydrofoil landing takes you to Ficogrande beach, a cove bathed in sand and volcanic rock. Forgia Vecchia, however, wins the award for the most beautiful beach on the island. This rather wild expanse of black pebbles, smoothed by the water and wind, can be reached by land via a path from the nearby beach of Scari, below San Vincenzo, a town overlooking the iconic Strombolicchio. Legend has it that this volcanic sea stack, Iddu's younger brother, is the top of a volcano that was thrown into the sea during an eruption. A few years ago, it was designated a protected nature park: the lighthouse that towers above it, once gas-powered, is now 100% self-sufficient thanks to renewable energy.
Art & Culture

Vernazza

Vernazza, a small village of great wonders A rocky spur reaching out towards the sea, backed by high cliffs and covered with green hills, home to a village of houses and monuments next to the marina. Introducing Vernazza, among the most authentic villages in the Cinque Terre. The small, colourful houses and moored boats, the prickly pears and cultivated terraces create an enchanting landscape. Venture into one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, for an immersive experience in the pristine Mediterranean landscape. Alleyways and stairways In Vernazza, everything centres around the small harbour and the small square behind it, where the locals rent apartments to tourists. The “carruggi”, the narrow alleyways of Ligurian villages, all branch off from here. We highly recommend taking a stroll among the colourful, towering houses, through courtyards, under porticos and loggias (the perfect spot for a cup of coffee), and along Via Roma, an ancient underground river. An unmissable site in this ancient village, which dates back to the year 1000 and was once used by the Romans as a strategic port, is the Church of Santa Maria d'Antiochia: dedicated to the village’s patron saint, it has mullioned windows overlooking the sea and presents a blend of Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic styles. While the Belforte tower acts as a lookout next to the small port, dominating the town from above is Doria Castle, on a dramatic cliff. Be sure to try the local speciality, Tian di Vernazza: baked potatoes and anchovies flavoured with Mediterranean herbs and lemon zest - the land and sea come together in one unique dish. At a slow pace to contemplate the landscape The entire UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cinque Terre is dominated by rock and sea, small bays and inlets, and flourishing vegetation. Nature reigns supreme, so the Cinque Terre National Park ask that you explore respectfully, ideally on foot or by train. It’s well worth spreading out a beach towel on the cliffs to the right of the pier or near the harbour. Then, after enjoying a cool dip, it’s time to put on your hiking shoes. You are sure to enjoy the spectacular trek from Monterosso al Mare or Corniglia, two other villages in the Cinque Terre, located either side of Vernazza. The best route is the famous Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Path), which narrows in some places as it enters the woods, while opening up elsewhere to offer breathtaking glimpses of the sea and towering coastline. This circular trekking route climbs up to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Reggio, with its beautiful Romanesque façade. The forecourt is lined with holm oaks, cedars and horse chestnuts, and providing shade is the oldest cypress tree in Liguria, which has thrived for 800 years and counting. The route continues towards San Bernardino before descending back down to the village, past cultivated fields and vineyards, dry stone walls, fragrant Mediterranean scrubland, streams and springs, well-worn ancient mule tracks shrouded in silence, and crisscrossing houses lost in the wilderness. You will find yourself outside civilisation, inside a natural space that regenerates the body and mind.
Nature
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La Maddalena National Park

La Maddalena National Park, with Mediterranean charm With its 180 km of coastline, the La Maddalena National Park in northern Sardinia boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean Sea. Those who love the idyllic sea cannot fail to put places such as the Pink Beach on the island of Budelli, Cala Corsara and Cala Granara in Spargi, Cala Napoletana and Del Relitto in Caprera on their list of places to visit. In the park of La Maddalena, nature's own architect has really indulged in shapes and colours here: the pink granite rocks and the blue sea make this slice of paradise on the Bocche di Bonifacio truly irresistible. La Maddalena and Caprera There are 62 islands and islets that make up the Maddalena archipelago park. The largest island is the landing point due to the frequent ferry service from Palau, on the nearby Sardinian coast. The historic centre is a delightful maze of narrow streets sloping down to the sea, always lively both during the day and at night. From the port by bus, one can circle the island and stop at its many beaches: Spalmatore is a deep inlet that is well protected when the mistral wind blows; the beaches of Bassa Trinita and Monti d'Arena preserve sand dunes, and walkways have been built to protect them from being trampled on, allowing even the disabled easy access to the sea. The most beautiful sunsets can be enjoyed from Punta Tegge, opposite the island of Spargi. The island of Caprera, connected by a bridge to La Maddalena, is the true enchantment of the Archipelago Park. The dense pine forest that covers it is owed to Giuseppe Garibaldi, who wanted to spend the last years of his life from 1856 to 1882 in one of the most beautiful places on the island. His home and burial place is definitely worth a visit, not just for historical curiosity, but for the pleasant atmosphere that emanates from a place that was certainly much loved: 4 km from the house in Forte Arbuticci is the Garibaldi memorial, which recounts his adventurous life, to say the least. The rest of the island is a succession of bays and beaches, one more beautiful than the other; in one of which you will find the Centro Velico, one of Italy's best-known sailing schools. The islets of the archipelago The island of Budelli is famous for an inlet that faces south-east, known as the Spiaggia Rosa or Pink Beach, because of the colour of its sand. This colouring is due to the skeletal debris of aquatic animals (Miriapora truncata, Miniacina miniacea) that are concentrated here due to a number of factors: the presence of a Posidonia prairie, the shape of the seabed, because there are low-energy currents, and because it is protected from the westerly winds by a thick juniper hedge. Changing just one of these factors, for example with the wave motion of boats that would intensify the energy of the currents, could alter the delicate balance and set off an irreversible degradation process. This is why the Pink beach is not accessible and can only be seen from a distance from walkways set up by the park. Equally beautiful and fragile is Budelli's white Cavaliere beach in the north-eastern part, a natural swimming pool facing the so-called Porto della Madonna, the stretch of water bordered by Budelli and the islands of Razzoli and Santa Maria, one of the most sought-after spots by yachtsmen. Due to sand erosion, the beach has only been open partially since summer 2020. The beaches of Spargi, the largest and greenest of the smaller islands, are also beautiful. Many protected birds nest here thanks to the presence of fresh water: as far as beaches are concerned, with cala Corsara and cala Granara, we are in the top 10.
Nature
Salina - Isole Eolie, Sicilia

Salina

Salina, the greenest of the Aeolian Islands Thanks to its protected central position, Salina, the second largest of the Aeolian islands, is also the richest in vegetation and water of the entire Sicilian archipelago, and certainly the one where volcanic activity is at its quietest. Known as the Green Island, the ancient volcanic origins of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, testified by the extinct craters of Monte Fossa delle Felci and Monte Porri, two of the six volcanoes that once set it ablaze, are today nestled in a lush Nature Reserve that covers a large part of the territory and hosts several high-altitude routes for trekking enthusiasts. A scenic tour of the villages In another fascinating anomaly, Salina is the only Aeolian Island not administratively dependent on Lipari. It has three autonomous municipalities: Malfa, Leni and Santa Marina – well connected centres accessible by car, scooter or an excellent bus service that runs late into the night in summer. On the slopes of Monte Fossa delle Felci, lively and bustling especially in the evenings, Santa Marina is the place to be, criss-crossed by narrow streets full of bars and boutiques, with its iconic 18th-century church with twin bell towers. Perched on what remains of an ancient volcanic crater, the hamlet of Pollara is also a picture-perfect destination. It is guarded from the sea by an immense sea stack, probably a slab of its own rock that once fell off. Valdichiesa, an enchanted mountain village If you prefer the mountains to the sea, you will find cool respite from all the seaside shenanigans in the village of Valdichiesa, a small hamlet in the municipality of Leni, definitely the most “mountainous” on the island: it looks like an enchanted village, framed by mountains and vineyards. Here you will find the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Terzito, a pilgrimage destination, especially during the traditional celebrations on 23rd July: it is said that the Madonna has appeared in this area three times. A journey through the island's history Along Salina's historical-artistic itinerary it is worth visiting the Saracen caves, a series of interconnecting tunnels dug into the tuff and used as a refuge during the Saracen invasion in 650 AD. You can also reach them at the end of a rather long and demanding trekking route that starts in Santa Marina, among olive and fruit trees. Or why not take a journey back in time, visiting the beautiful, well-preserved archaeological site of Portella, between Santa Marina and Capo Faro? The ruins of the village here date back to the Bronze Age, and the Roman baths sit on the promenade from Santa Marina, now partially eroded by sea storms. An arch with a view If panoramic views are more your thing, keep an eye out for the “Castello” on the road between Pollara and Malfa, which will lead you to a small World War I fort. The square in front of it is a panoramic terrace overlooking the volcanic crater that houses Pollara, its beach and its private stretch of sea. Punta Perciato in Salina is undoubtedly the best place to admire the sunset, one of the most beautiful in the world, they say! This spectacular natural volcanic rock arch lets you watch the sun plunge into the sea next to Filicudi and Alicudi against a bright red sky. Stairway to the beach The best way to explore the sea of Salina is on board one of the many fishing boats that tour the island daily, though there are at least a couple of beaches accessible by land that are well worth a visit. The first is the beach at Pollara, the setting for many of the scenes in Il Postino, the last film starring Massimo Troisi: a gravel cove, dominated by an imposing cliff, creates a natural amphitheatre of tuff overlooking the sea. The nearby Punta Scario cove is also a wonderful place to spend a day in the sun. Immersed in the Mediterranean scrubland, at the bottom of another long flight of steps, it is a true paradise, though the pebbles can be a little uncomfortable under a towel after a while. Not to fear, the little cafe at the bottom of the slope is there to come to your rescue with airbeds for hire!
Nature

Marettimo

Marettimo, hiking and the sea in an unspoilt oasis The westernmost of the Egadi Islands, Marettimo is a wild, mountainous island covered in thick scrub, where human impact has been minimal. It has archaeological sites, a Spanish fort, plenty of sea caves, hiking trails and a few beaches that can be reached by land, where the colour of the sea is astonishing. There are no hotels in Marettimo, only rooms in residents' homes where hospitality is strictly island style. History, archaeology and emigration Marettimo welcomes you into a small port with turquoise waters and white houses. The name has nothing to do with the sea or seafaring; rather, the etymology refers to the thyme plant that grows wild here (with “timo” meaning “thyme”). To get to know the island and the locals, it’s worth visiting the Museo del mare, delle attività e tradizioni marinare e dell'emigrazione (Museum of the Sea, Maritime Activities and Traditions and Emigration), run by a local association, located in the centre of the village. In its display cases, amidst the seafaring tools and old photos of migrants with cardboard suitcases, is the historical memory of a community that had to leave the island to go and work in various countries around the world, and which is trying to protect its identity. Above the village, along the path leading up the mountain, you will find a small archaeological site, known as the Roman houses, with the remains of a building from the late Republican period. After defeating the Carthaginians in the First Punic War with the Battle of the Egadi Islands (241 B.C.), Rome made Marettimo a military stronghold and installed a garrison on the island, so it is not surprising to find Roman artefacts on this strip of land, however remote. Next to the Roman houses is a tiny Byzantine chapel dating back to the 11th century. The 400 caves of Marettimo From the harbour, you can board a boat to tour the caves of Marettimo, which are one of the highlights of the island. There are about 400 of them in total, all different in shape, colour, size and characteristics. In the Camel Cave there is a small pebble beach, the Nativity Cave has stalactites and stalagmites, the Bombard Cave is so called because of the hissing sound created inside it during sea storms, etc. Depending on where the wind is blowing, Marettimo always has a sheltered slope where one can enjoy the sea and the air that is scented with thyme. On the hiking trails overlooking the sea Bring your hiking boots if you are going to Marettimo: there are several paths on the island that are well-marked by the forestry service, that allow you to discover the unspoilt nature of the area. There are at least six routes, some very easy, others a little more challenging, which, from the port, allow you to reach the most extreme points of the island. Punta Troia, on the peninsula that can be seen from the port, can be reached in an hour and a half via a path that has stretches overhanging the sea. There, you can visit the Spanish fort, which was later used as a hard prison, and was recently restored and opened for visits. The next day you may wish to go to Cala Bianca, on the western side: on the way back you can pass by Pizzo Falcone, at 686 metres, the highest point on the island. Amidst forests of Aleppo pines, the typical types of Mediterranean scrub and many endemic species, you will see how many birds, even birds of prey, have chosen to make their nests in Marettimo.
Nature

Ischia

Ischia: a paradise of dream beaches, nature and spas Remember Suddenly Paradise, Leonardo Pieraccioni's film shot almost exclusively in Ischia? Mind you, the title is by no means coincidental, and as soon as you set foot on this island of otherworldly beauty you’ll understand why. This is well known by the more than six million visitors who visit this island in the Tyrrhenian Sea every year. As the largest in Campania, they are attracted by this vast and morphologically varied territory: Ischia Ponte, a charming historic centre of narrow streets, alleys and old shops, and Ischia Porto, a small fishing village. Located at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples, and not far from the islands of Procida and Vivara, Ischia is the largest of the Phlegraean Islands. Fine sand and crystal-clear water If you’re looking for a large, comfortable beach, head for Chiaia in Forio di Ischia. If you’re looking for a dream beach with fine golden sand and crystal-clear green water, you should definitely choose San Montano Bay, a mecca for Instagrammers! The Bay of Sorgeto is also worth a visit, where you can bathe in a real hot thermal water spring that mixes with sea water. You’ll have to go down (and then up) 234 steps to reach it, but we assure you that it’s worth it. Thermal waters for care and pampering Ischia has been famous since Greek and Roman times for the therapeutic properties of its thermal springs. Try the Nitrodi spring, whose water is potable and has certified healing powers to treat gastritis and ulcers, as well as to facilitate urination. Applied to the body, it cures skin impurities and also has a healing effect. This is not the only place to pamper and treat yourself: you can choose from the many thermal parks, from Poseidon to the Gardens of Aphrodite, from Terme di Castiglione to Bagnitiello via the unmissable Casamicciola Terme. Plunge into history If you want to immerse yourself in the island's history, you should definitely visit the Aragonese Castle, built in 474 BC by the Greeks and connected to the island by the striking ancient bridge. The Torrione di Forio is also worth seeing, a strategic point from which sightings were made to anticipate invasions in times of war. Next door is the white, cliff-top Church of Soccorso, also known as Santa Maria della Neve. From this point at sunset, you can witness a very rare phenomenon: the green ray. It is an optical effect due to the refraction of light at sunset. Legend has it that whoever sees it will have good luck for life. If you also have time to pass through Borgo di Sant'Angelo, you’ll be enchanted by its colourful houses and enjoy dining at restaurants with outdoor tables and shopping in the many souvenir shops. Paradise for those who love trekking There are dozens of trails, from the simplest to those for experts to explore the wonders of the island, but three are absolutely unmissable: the Pietra dell'Acqua Trail, which passes by Monte Epomeo; Piano Liguori, which reaches the vantage point of La Scarrupata; and Pizzi Bianchi, along a canyon of white tuff pinnacles.
Nature

Baia delle Mimose

In Sardinia at Baia delle Mimose, between fine sand and a thousand shades of blue Light, fine Caribbean-like sand and small clumps of bushes and wild flowers that conjure up images of beautiful deserts: yet we are not on the other side of the world, but in the incredible Sardinia that holds constant surprises in store for us. Welcome to Baia delle Mimose, a long beach on the border between Gallura and Anglona, amidst jagged cliffs overlooking the sea and the typical colours of the Mediterranean maquis. A holiday for the whole family Mimosa Bay is a corner of paradise that appeals to everyone: adults can indulge in lazing around in the sunshine, and youngsters enjoy long swims and organised games on the beach. The scenery is literally hypnotic, thanks also to the soft dunes covered with junipers and sea rosesagainst the backdrop of crystal-clear water, in a postcard-perfect setting. Not far from these small sandy mountains are a few small villas, a shopping centre with the main services, including a tobacco bar, a beauty centre, a boutique and an excursion point. The most popular destination for sportsmen The wind is constant at Le Mimose and this makes the 3 km long coastline perfect for wind and kite surfing. In addition, for those wishing to travel and explore the surroundings, its location is strategic: in fact, it is only 6 km from the town of Badesi, 70 km from Alghero and 80 km from Olbia. A small scenic paradise Among the many surprises Baia delle Mimose has in store is that it is not particularly crowded. This is how this beach, despite its limited size, remains an oasis of tranquillity even in high season. An advantage for tourists who want to spend their holidays in direct contact with nature and, at the same time, not stray too far from their residential centre. From here, one's gaze can sweep over the Isola Rossa in the distance in all its splendour and the outline of the Castelsardo promontory. A Blue Flag beach For its quality services, as well as the cleanliness of its waters, the beach has been awarded the Blue Flag continuously since 2017. The prestigious title was awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (Fee), after a careful evaluation including, among others, its excellent accessibility, the presence of parking, refreshment facilities and the possibility of hiring bathing equipment. What's more, even four-legged friends can enjoy a well-deserved holiday here. Not far from the mouth of the Coghinas river, there is a small 300 square metre beach with a dog beach, equipped with parasols, bowls and showers. Exploring the surroundings of Badesi The Bay of Mimosas is spectacular, but it is not the only gem in the area. Not to be missed is Li Mindi, with its clear sand and the possibility of catching a glimpse of Corsica and Asinara in the distance on fine days. No less interesting is also Li Junchi, with its golden sand and often windy, so perfect for surfers. Past the mouth of the Coghinas river, another naturalistic treasure awaits: Valledoria, with the seaside hamlet of San Pietro a mare, with its dunes covered in Mediterranean maquis, stretches of vegetation and a seabed perfect for diving and snorkelling.
Nature

Corniglia

Corniglia, a village overlooking the Cinque Terre district Set at the top of a spectacular sheer cliff, Corniglia is the only village in the Cinque Terre district where direct access to the sea is not available. The vast expanse of the Tyrrhenian Sea appears one hundred metres below the cliff-top settlement. The surrounding countryside presents the green natural dimension of the Cinque Terre National Park with its terraced vineyards and olive groves. A picturesque ascent towards the village If you arrive on one of the many trains that travel along the route between La Spezia and Levanto, and this is recommended as an alternative to travelling by car, the Scalinata Landarina (stepped pathway) leading up to the crest awaits you. As you walk up the 33 ramps and 377 steps you will feel you are floating between the rock formation and the water. This is how you will reach the promontory upon which the village is situated (100 metres a.s.l.), immediately entering a magical landscape. Take your time as you walk calmly through the shady streets and alleyways, admiring the stone houses and ancient religious edifices. The Parish church of St Peter is certainly worthy of note. A striking element on the façade of the building, constructed in the Ligurian-Gothic style, is a carefully embroidered rose window produced in Carrara marble. You may then move on towards the Oratorio dei Disciplinati di Santa Caterina, which dates back to the 18th century. The panoramic view from the Sanctuary of San Bernardino is highly suggestive. Enchanted by this small village, you may decide to spend a night here at one of the smaller guest houses or you may decide to rent an apartment or a single room provided by local residents. The fact that there are no large hotels at Corniglia would appear to enhance its particular charm. A dense maze of trails When you plan a visit to Corniglia, you should prepare a rucksack with a decent supply of water and a few snacks and use a pair of comfortable hiking shoes. At this site you will be following a network of pathways in an entirely natural environment. If you want to go for a swim, a good solution would be to go down to the Spiaggione, a large beach not far from the railway station, or, starting at Corniglia, you might decide to follow another pathway leading towards Vernazza and stop at the Marina beach. You should also consider climbing up to the higher areas to enjoy direct contact with the splendid hinterland and the slopes leading down to the sea. This is the most iconic landscape of the Cinque Terre, now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. One of the most beautiful pathways starts at Corniglia and leads on towards Manarola, another gem of the Cinque Terre, and passes through the small hamlet of Volastra. Walking on the slopes, you will follow a route that also presents very steep sections and stepped trails. You will enjoy glimpses of the coastline as you walk past groups of fruit trees, vegetable gardens, olive groves and vineyards. The ingenious agricultural terracing method This is a marvellous wild zone. However, as occurred elsewhere in the world, humans found a way of altering the landscape to facilitate the cultivation of certain crops. The age-old technique, already adopted in the Middle Ages, involves the creation of terracing with dry stone walls: a typical method of the entire area between the Ligurian Sea and the Apennines. Reducing slope gradients in this way, the terraces may be covered in orchards, olive groves and the renowned vineyards which are the source of Ligurian wines. This truly natural spectacle, which will accompany you during your trekking sessions, represents a masterpiece of agricultural engineering. Precious wines Once you have returned to the village after completing a rather strenuous walk you can reward yourself with a lovely glass of wine, a delicious evening meal or a few appetising snacks. Choose the wine shop or wine bar that suits you best, and at Corniglia it’s not hard to find a good solution. Consider the extraordinary local red and white wines which present the DOC and IGT appellations of the Cinque Terre. The dessert ritual will also be interesting because you can try the rare and very precious Sciacchetrà, a sweet dried-rasin “passito” wine produced in accordance with the criteria of the “Slow Food Presidia”. This traditional wine is produced from grapes harvested in the local terraced vineyards. Guvano, a legendary beach with an atmosphere reminiscent of the 1970s Before leaving Corniglia you may be tempted to spend some time on the Guvano beach. In the 1970s it was a point of reference for nature lovers and ecologists. It still retains a special charm, embedded as it is in a small bay and protected by the rocks behind it. You can arrive at the beach by sea, on a private or hired boat, or walking down along a path, which is not always easily accessible. It is still a favourite venue for nudism enthusiasts.
Nature

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore, the village on the rooftop of the Cinque Terre Squeezed between two valleys in a panoramic position, Riomaggiore stretches from the Ligurian coast towards the Apennines, clinging to the ridge. It is the first village in the Cinque Terre coming from La Spezia and offers splendid scenery between land and sea: crystal-clear water and cliffs, brightly coloured houses, and paths leading up towards the mountains for a total immersion in the Mediterranean vegetation of the Cinque Terre National Park. Among the carruggi of the historic centre Alleys and steep stairways wind around houses with pastel-coloured plaster and slate roofs, outlining a picturesque village where dazzling light and shadowy corners alternate. The village follows the course of the stream, buried at the end, looking out to sea at the bottom and then climbing symmetrically on both sides of the rise: a perfect "V" drawn on the cliff. In the upper part you can admire the 14th-century Church of St John the Baptist in front of a beautiful square, then climbing further you reach the Castle, a fortress from which you can enjoy a magnificent view of the coastline. To admire the sunset, choose a spot along the wall and wait for the curtain to open on the spectacle of the sun plunging into the water. A stroll through the old town offers pleasant breaks at outdoor tables, where each restaurant offers both land and seafood menus. You must have the famous trofie with pesto, and try the anchovies, generously offered by the sea. When choosing gourmet souvenirs, be sure to include the fine Cinque Terre CDO white wines and TGI reds from the vines cultivated on the terraces, preserved anchovies and fragrant lemon jams. Experiencing the Sea The Riomaggiore beach is in a small inlet, only pebbles and lapped by a perfectly clear sea. There is an organised, and licensed, diving centre in the village: here, in the Marine Protected Area, snorkelling and diving are an authentic experience. You will come across a surprising amount of fish, from groupers to bream and sea bream; further out to sea whales swim. You will discover the varied vegetation on the seabed near the reefs and in some places you will see veritable sea gardens of lush algae species. For a sea trip, boats can be hired, even for large groups, and solo canoes and kayaks can be hired. By land A walk of less than an hour leads to the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Montenero via a forest path and a sequence of steps. And that is the only way to get there, there is no road that can be travelled by car. You are at an altitude of 350 metres at a point where the vegetation thickens and the green stands out against the blue sky in a poetic contrast. The view is one you won't forget. The entire area of the Cinque Terre opens up from up there, including the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, and on clear days the view flies as far as Corsica. For the more experienced, the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Montenero can be the first stop on a long scenic trek. Just take the Sentiero dell'Infinito from here, which connects Riomaggiore to Portovenere in 12 km. In the Cinque Terre National Park, the territory presents itself in all its magnificence, with ever-changing views. As you walk above the sea, you encounter ancient terraces for the cultivation of vines and olive trees, pleasant vegetable gardens and dense forests: the best of the Mediterranean landscape, which UNESCO has honoured by declaring it a World Heritage Site. Even more challenging is the Monesteroli Steps to reach the tiny village of the same name, which can also be admired from the sea. But it is the 1,200 steps that provide a unique thrill. The coastline follows you in parallel, on what was an old mule track used by farmers to reach the vineyards. A dizzying ascent towards the sky, breathing in the fragrant air: a bouquet of flowers, essences and saltiness.
Art & Culture
Arcades of the church San Pietro, Porto Venere - Liguria

Portovenere

Porto Venere, in the park where nature is poetry The name of a goddess is fitting: Porto Venere rises from the waters in a splendid position at the southern end of the peninsula in the Gulf of Poets. For lovers of the sea, this is a true paradise, among the UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Porto Venere Regional Natural Park includes the ancient village, the Protected Marine Area to protect the purity of the waters, and the three nearby islands: Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. The joys of the sea Regular ferries departing from Porto Venere land on the island in front of Palmaria, a splendid marine oasis. You could be content with just a panoramic sea tour, admiring the other two islets in the archipelago, Tino and Tinetto, but it is worth stopping on Palmaria to enjoy an amazing day at sea. The beaches here are among the most beautiful in Liguria. Once on Palmaria, the ferry stops at Cala Pozzale and Cala Fornace, beaches that cannot be reached in any other way. In the first, the tongue of pebbles and small rocks is framed by pine and myrtle trees and the water is emerald, as it is also in the second, a bay with a cliff behind it. Larger is the Spiaggia del Secco, on the tip of the same name, equipped to provide every comfort. For divers, the wonder continues in the seabed, a diverse world of sheer cliffs that continue into the depths and submerged caves. Seahorses, starfish and the Poseidonia prairie of aquatic plants are just some of the surprises you will encounter while diving. And all it takes is a simple mask to get lost among the fish. By boat, you can visit the Blue Grotto, so called because the reflections of light paint a palette in all shades of blue. If you wish to explore the interior of the island, you can set off along the well-maintained paths organised in loops for a total walking time of about 3.5 hours, with dry stretches alternating with patches of Mediterranean scrub. Nature and architecture, allies in a magical setting Porto Venere boasts a prestigious history, dating back to the 6th century BC, in Roman times. Here, nature meets architecture, because among the alleys and houses with their typical pastel colours are ancient testimonies of the many peoples who have passed through this strategic military and commercial port. At St Peter's Church you will appreciate the two buildings, one more recent in Gothic style, the other Romanesque, and you will be amazed by the location. The complex is perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea, the Promontorio delle Bocche: a place surrounded by an atmosphere of spirituality enhanced by its natural setting. Look out from the loggia outside for a view of the coastline framed by the arches. The Sanctuary of the Madonna Bianca, in the old town, is an imposing Romanesque masterpiece, and after visiting it, go up again to the highest point of Porto Venere with the Doria Castle, the fortification that watches over the sea. An inspiring place: Byron's Cave Without moving too far from the old town, Porto Venere offers small beaches to cool off with a dip. The place not to be missed, however, is Byron's Grotto, near St Peter's Church, so named because the British poet found inspiration for his writing there. You can get there on foot via a footpath or by private boat. Jump in equipped with a mask and let yourself be captivated by this deep cavern carved out of an impressive cliff. Also observe the cave walls, rich in fascinating concretions. In the evening, shopping and the pleasures of the table A walk through the village is also an invitation to go shopping. You will be attracted by the hand-painted silks and shawls of ancient tradition, the precious “mezzari” once used by local women to cover their heads and now reinvented in fashion. Also interesting are the vibrantly coloured majolica tiles on sale in the many ateliers. Then choose a restaurant, either with an intimate and romantic atmosphere in the old town or in movida style on the promenade characterised by the Palazzata: the row of tower-houses built on several floors clinging to each other against the rock. When ordering, remember that Porto Venere is famous for its mussels, oysters, sea bass and sea bream, plus a species of shellfish named after the place. The mussels of Porto Venere, similar to mussels, are delicious fried or as a condiment for a dish of spaghetti.