Illustrated picture. Photo: Mixi
Illustrated picture. Photo: Mixi

From the Italian Riviera to the farthest reaches of Sicily, Italy is home to Mediterranean views, pristine beaches, excellent seafood, and well-preserved architecture, these pockets of beauty are well-worth a stop on your next trip. From Manarola to Ravello, get ready to trade city life for coastal charm.

The List of 10 Most Beautiful Coastal Towns in Italy

1. Positano

2. Ravello

3. Manarola

4. Sorrento

5. Portoferraio, Elba Island, Tuscany

6. Sperlonga, Lazio

7. Riomaggiore

8. Atrani

9. Cefalù, Sicily

10. Capri

Which of the Most Beautiful Coastal Towns in Italy?

1. Positano

Photo: Viator
Photo: Viator

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Positano is one of the most beautiful places on earth. This small town on the Amalfi Coast awes visitors with its pastel-colored houses perched on mountains that rise above the sea. Positano has lived many lives—as part of Amalfi’s maritime republic during the Middle Ages, a major trade route during the Renaissance, a forgotten fishing village, and finally, an idyllic beach town experiencing a modern-day renaissance. John Steinbeck, who lived here in 1953, wrote, “It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” Then again, you might never want to leave.

2. Ravello

Photo: GetYourGuide
Photo: GetYourGuide

Amalfi may be more famous, but Ravello tops it—literally. French author Andre Gide wrote that it’s “closer to the sky than the sea,” and he’s right. The town is poised high above the Bay of Salerno, and is celebrated for Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, two romantic gardens offering spectacular views of the water. Ravello became famous as the home of the noble families of Amalfi’s 12th-century maritime republic. It has also inspired countless artists, including M. C. Escher, Virginia Woolf, Joan Mirò, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Richard Wagner, who is celebrated every year with a music festival.

3. Manarola

Photo: 5-five-5 - Blogger
Photo: 5-five-5 - Blogger

Part of the Cinque Terre National Park (comprised of five villages) in Liguria, Manarola has been called the most colourful city in the world. The vibrant buildings are jostling for space, making the town resemble an artist’s palette. Every year, visitors flock here to hike between seaside villages, with numbers soaring in peak season. Don’t miss the Church of San Lorenzo, beautiful both inside and out thanks to some sweeping views of Manarola and neighbouring towns.

4. Sorrento

Photo: P&O Cruises
Photo: P&O Cruises

Located where the mountain meets the sea and where citrus plantations alternate with deep valleys, Sorrento is set in an extraordinary landscape. Set within the province of Naples, the old town is known for producing lace and ceramics. Sip a glass of Falanghina, and soak up the atmosphere of Piazza Tasso – a people-watcher’s paradise. Beach options are limited: Amalfi Coast to the north, rolling countryside to the east and stunning Capri just offshore. But, luckily, the prime location of the town easily makes up for that.

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5. Portoferraio, Elba Island, Tuscany

Photo: Puzzle Factory
Photo: Puzzle Factory

You may know Elba Island as the former home of exiled Napoleon Bonaparte (his summer house, Villa San Martino, is currently open to the public), but the site also happens to be one of the least-touristed Italian islands...for now. Though it’s the largest island in the Tuscan archipelago, Elba looks more like the lush French island of Corsica than its rocky sister islands, thanks to underground springs, which keep the island green year round. Its largest city, Portoferraio, welcomes ferries from Italy's mainland with its dense vegetation, beautiful hidden beaches, and well-preserved Medici forts.

6. Sperlonga, Lazio

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Sperlonga was the former hideaway of many Roman emperors, and it’s no wonder: The tiny town’s pristine beaches, lush greenery, and proximity to Rome—just an hour by train—makes it the perfect weekend escape. The town also has an excellent museum, Museo Archeologico di Sperlonga, which is set amongst the ancient ruins of Emperor Tiberius’ old villa. The Torre Truglia, located at the tip of the promontory on which Sperlonga is built, has the best views in town.

7. Riomaggiore

Photo: We The Italians
Photo: We The Italians

Another part of Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore is the largest of the 5 islands of Cinque Terre. It is popular for its seafood and wine. The amazing grape variety found in the region- Bosco, Albarola and Vermentino are used to make the famous Sciacchetrà.

8. Atrani

Photo: Positano News
Photo: Positano News

Adjacent to Amalfi is the city of Atrani. It holds the distinction of being the smallest community of Italy with a population of 870. That surely makes Atrani a less crowded place to visit. You could visit places like Church of San Salvatore de’ Birecto, Church of the Immaculate Conception, Torre dello Ziro, Cave and House of Masaniello.

On the east coast traveling from South to North

9. Cefalù, Sicily

Photo: Skyticket
Photo: Skyticket

Wedged between mountains and coastline, just an hour's drive east of Palermo, the idyllic town of Cefalù in Sicily is tiny but popular—especially among sun-seekers from other parts of Italy. Besides gorgeous beaches, Cefalù also offers great restaurants and a hip nightlife scene, particularly in the summer months when its population triples.

10. Capri

Photo: Hotels
Photo: Hotels

The island of Capri was once the vacation spot of Roman emperors and derives its name from the herds of goats (capra in Italian) that once inhabited it. The natural beauty of the Grotta Azzurra is unparalleled and became a symbol of the pastoral Romantic ideal when it was “discovered” by Germans August Kopisch, a poet, and artist Ernst Fries in 1826. A hidden opening in the cave allows light to refract, making the water appear an incredible shade of sapphire blue. Today, the secret’s out and Capri draws crowds of tourists, but it’s worth a trip for the island’s stunning beauty.

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