At around 7.30am swimmers who had arrived early for a day at the beach saw the ship, which had 56 Syrian and Iraqi Kurd refugees on board, sailing with obvious difficulty towards the bay at Isola Capo Rizzuto, between Capopiccolo and Sovereto.
When the ship became stranded a few metres from shore, holidaymakers and locals quickly came to the rescue using their own boats, La Reppublica reports, while others helped the refugees as they arrived on the beach exhausted and dehydrated.
Eleven children, 6 women and 39 men were taken to the beach, where holidaymakers from two nearby resorts and other beachgoers rushed to give them water, fruit juice and picnic food from their cool bags.
Meanwhile, the Italian coastguard was alerted and arrived at the scene along with police and the Italian Red Cross.
The arrival of migrants on board barely-seaworthy vessels is nothing new in the Crotone area, but it’s believed to be the first time such a ship has escaped the attention of radars and coastguard patrols.
This part of the Calabrian coastline has historically been a landing point for merchant ships and boats arriving from the east of the Mediterranean.
Crotone News writes that 17 years ago, in a near-identical incident, local beachgoers were the first to help 50 Kurdish refugees who arrived by sailboat at another nearby beach between Isola Capo Rizzuto and Cutro.