Beaches in Italy rank right up there with gelato, Pasta all' Amatriciana and pizza in bella Napoli as some of the best reasons to travel to Italy. Italy's coastline, including that of its two islands - Sicily and Sardinia, is 7600 km, or 4,712 miles! With all that beach space and its warm (sometimes sweltering summer temperatures), is it no wonder most of Italy takes all of August off to hit the beach?
I've spent many a July and August lounging on those beaches, so much so that I have a special beach bag all ready to go for any summer trips along the coast in the bel paese. I've been known to forego food forays so I could lay on a lettino (sun bed) and splash around in the mild waters of Italy's seas. This month at "Across the Cafe Table" we're discussing what's in our beach bags and our favorite beach locations. I'm taking the opportuinty to share with you what's in my Italian beach bag and some of my favorite beaches along Italy's coast.
Beach Fashion Essentials: The norm on California's beaches, old baseball cap, cut offs, flip flops and sweats as cover up just don't cut it in Italy. To blend in with the fashionista Italian crowd, if only a little, I add a few little things to dress up my beachwear a bit:
Colorful sarong, wrap or pareo - Whatever you call it, I bring one to wrap around my waist for those quick gelato jaunts
LBSD (little black sun dress) to cover up for walks along the promenade or a lunch break at a beach-side trattoria.
Strappy sandals - Usually in black, I wear these to and from the beach and save the flip flops to use only as shower shoes
A hat that's anything but baseball - Sometimes its a fun and floppy one, but my current favorite is the fedora.
Beach Towel - I like one that's colorful but also goes well with the other colors in my beach bag
Essentials for skin and hair care: My love for the sun and the beach is sadly one-sided. My pale and fragile skin not only burns but also can get irritated and break out in an ugly red heat rash if I'm in the sun too much. Then there's my rebelious hair, that starts to look more like a brittle bird's nest than the long and lovely locks I would like it to be. To temper my sun intake, I always rent a lettino and shade my face under its cover. I'll also take a long lunch break from the sun during the hottest part of the day. Besides those precautions, my bag is stocked with sunsreen 30+ SPF for my body and also some for my hair.
Fun in the Sun Essentials: Many of the Italian beaches I prefer are not sand-covered ones. Instead, they are covered with little rocks. After taking a swim in the Mediterrenean, I envisioned myself gracefully emerging from the water and sauntering to the shore, possibly like Bo Derek or Halle Barry in one of the 007 movies. Ha, instead with those sharp pebbles under my bare feet, I look more like someone sentenced to walk across hot coals. My face writhing in pain while I jerk and jump from one sharp stone is as graceful as a linebacker dancing the waltz.
Those pink swim shoes may kill all the fashion sense I gained with strappy sandals and the LBSD, but they have saved my feet so many times I will never give them up. I don't leave for Italy without them. Besides the pink swim shoes, my other fun in the sun essentials include:
A good read - Many times I'm reading a book based in Italy. Currently, however, I'm walking in Paris with A Pedistrian in Paris: The Most Beautiful Walk by John Baxter
Music - An iPod filled with some of my favorite tunes, including Italian artisits like Eros Ramazzotti, Laura Pausini, and Jovanotti
Camera - Always the shutter bug, I have a small camera in my beach bag. I not only use it to capture beautiful views of the sea and coastline, but also to capture other pleasing scenes along the beach in Italy.
Wine - Why, yes, that is a bottle of wine in my bag - For those evening excursions to the beach, I pack a bottle of wine, and a couple of glasses. For me, nothing is more romantic and relaxing than sipping a little wine while watching the sun set on the beach.
Although I'd be happy if you plopped me down anywhere along the Italian coastline with my beach bag, a lettino and an umbrella, here are some photos of my favorite beaches in Italy:
Liguria - Camogli and Monterosso in the Cinque Terre - Many little towns with pastel-colored buildings dot the Ligurian coastline. I especially like both Camogli and Monterosso. Both have a very small-town feel along with long stretches of beach and stunning 360 degree views from the water or wherever you place your beach towel.
Amalfi Coast - Positano and Amalfi are well-known beaches along the Amalfi Coast. Both are full of sun beds, umbrellas and crowds, also called eye-candy, throughout the summer.
Sicily - Scopello and the Aeolian Islands
I've spent many summer vacations with my cousins in Sicily near Castellamare del Golfo, about an hour west of Palermo. Scopello, a little farther west from Castellamare del Golfo, may not have long stretches of beach or sun beds, but what it does have is an enchanting cove with crystal blue waters for swimmers.
Whether lounging along the black-sand shores of Lipari or Stromboli or swimming off a boat around Panarea, the Aeolian Islands are a must for any sea and sun worshipper.
Puglia - Otranto - I'm sure one day I'll need to dedicate an entire post to the best beaches in Puglia alone. For now, I'm choosing the one at which I spent the most of my daytime hours, Otranto.
This is the second installment in the "Across the Café Table" series organized by Margo of The Travel Belles. Once a month, Margo asks a travel-related question. We who participate will then share our answers “across the virtual café table,” on our own blogs, adding a link to the Travel Belles post and a link to our post on The Travel Belles' site. Everyone is welcome to participate. As Margo says, "Grab a beverage and pull up a chair – there’s always plenty of room!" Why don't you head on over there now, and check out what others have in their beach bag along with wanderlust inducing photos from others' favorite beaches around the world.
Now, it's your turn: What are some of your beach bag essentials and where is(are) your favorite beach(es)?