When I think of the tiny towns nestled along Italy’s Western coast, I think of the multi-hued sherbet cubes tucked into cliffsides, varying shades of aquamarine water with colorful boats bobbing up and down, gray pebbly beaches with lounge chairs and colorful umbrellas, steep craggy coastlines that abruptly drop into the forcefully churning surf and ports where fishmongers row in their catch of the day.
And though many of them possess these same characteristics, each one has its own history, charm, vibe and reasons to visit. Enjoy this photo essay of some of the best seaside towns in Italy.
Sanremo is one of the westernmost town, so very close to the French border. It’s home to a casino, palm trees and a luxurious looking Marina!
Genoa is one of the largest cities on the Northern Italy Coast. It’s a large industrial port city and actually was Italy’s first.
Lerici is in the province of Liguria. It’s considered part of the Italian Riviera. And in case you can’t tell from the photo…it’s a port town.
Cinque Terre means five towns. It is literally made up of five tiny villages, all connected by ancient paths. This photo is of Manarola, one of the most recognizable in the Cinque Terre.
Another hugely popular town on the Italian Riviera is Portofino. The small fishing village was supposedly discovered by Romans and named for dolphins. The stunning half-moon shape of the harbor is best viewed from above, as in this photo.
Livorno is an ancient tangle of canals and walls. It’s also known as Leghorn, and there is a breed of chicken named after the city. Rumor has it that it’s how Foghorn Leghorn got his name.
Monterosso al Mare
Another tiny town included in the Cinque Terre. I love how the little beach is anchored on either side by the huge rocks. And check out the walkway just clinging to that cliff face on the right.
This unique town of the Cinque Terre wraps completely around the coast, offering spectacular views. The Doria Castle, which was erected to protect against pirates and the church’s octagonal bell tower are two notable sights.
Camogli, which means houses close together in Italian, is a tiny fishing village on the coast. If this picture is any indication, it looks adorable.
The southernmost town in the Cinque Terre group. It sits on the Gulf of Genoa and is known for its wine and aquariums.
This tiny fishing village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its name is said to come from a temple to the goddess Venus. I know I’d feel like a goddess if I spent any time there.
Piombino is an ancient Etruscan port. The area attracts snorkelers and divers from all over the world. There is also a Marine Biology Center and aquarium.
Nettuno, named for the Roman god Neptune, is located in the Lazio region. It’s a popular spot for sunbathers since it’s a stop on the local train out of Rome.
Gaeta has had a turbulent history, but is currently an important seaport for both fishing and oil. You can also get tiella here, which is a unique combination of a pizza and calzone. I can imagine eating one on that stretch of golden sand.
Sorrento is a tourist destination in the Campania region, which overlooks the beautiful Bay of Naples. Other than delicious views and luxury resorts, Sorrento is known for its Limoncello. How ’bout a chilled sip while drooling over this view?
Made famous by the scenes shot here in Under the Tuscan Sun, this gem had been frequented by celebs long before that. Located on the Amalfi coast, Positano was a medieval port and boasts two separate beaches- both equally beautiful.
Atrani, located a few minutes drive from Amalfi, is one of the most romantic towns of them all. The location is stunning,even dramatic, and looking at this photo it’s clear why. Their abundance of fish is evident in the Sagre del Pesce Azzurro, the celebratory fish festival.
Praiano, located between Positano and Amalfi, is home to the famed Grotto Esmerela, or Green Grotto. Not quite as talked about as the famous Blue Grotto on Capri, but with views like this, how could it not be beautiful?
Once used by pirates as a naval base and later destroyed by Turkish pirates in the 16th century, this tiny gem is known for its anchovy and tuna production. Oh, and it looks dreamy at dusk, wouldn’t you agree?
Tropea is situated on a reef in the toe of the boot, the Calabria region. From the photo, we can tell it’s a favorite spot of beach-goers. The people seem ant-like in relation to the giant sandstone cliffs.
Located at the mouth of a ravine called Monte Cerrato, Amalfi is certainly one of the most well-known towns. An entire section of Italy’s southern coast is named after it. Amalfi is home to a Duomo, campanile (bell tower) and hosts an ancient regatta once every four years.
Which stunning locale are you heading to first? Include any favorites that I missed in the comments.
Note : Though many of these little villages are set in more specific areas of Italy’s coastline, such as the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas, I have grouped these bodies of water all together as part of the larger Mediterranean Sea for the pupose of this piece.
Photo Credits : Mike Flemming / Perrimoon / Alex Scarcella / Rob Inh00d / Extravigator / Conormac / LeeMcarthur / Tylerc083 / RoSSella Rebonato / [MP] / Nick’s Pics / Raffaelesergi1977 / Sunshinecity / Michaelwm25 / S J Pickney / Robin Locker / Allerina & Glen MacLarty / MHJohnston / Ale Bovini / Simo0082 / Paul and Jill
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