Italy famously has 7,600 kilometres of coastline and ten percent of all the Blue Flag beaches in the world. And now a new survey has picked out the the very best seaside resort areas for 2019.
The ranking named the beaches in Cilento, in Salerno, as the best in Italy while overall the island of Sardinia came out top as the part of Italy with the highest number of highly-ranked beaches.
They were closely followed by resorts in the Tuscan Maremma region as well as in Sicily and Puglia.
Of Italy's four seas, the Tyrrhenian had the highest number of top-rated beaches according to the ranking, entitled Il mare più bello 2019 (The most beautiful seaside 2019).
The list, compiled by Italian environmental group Legambiente along with travel experts from Italy's Touring Club, looked at everything from water quality to tourist facilities.
And this year a new requirement was added: the list only includes beaches that have gone plastic-free, in response to concerns about high levels of plastic pollution on the Italian coast.
If you want to know where to find the best beaches in the country this summer, here are the places that topped the chart.
We've written before about the delights of Cilento, a picturesque southern region popular with Italians but far from the tourist crowds. So we were pleased to see the beaches in this underrated area topping the list with the highest possible score.
Empty white beaches on the Cilento Coast. Photo: Jessica Phelan/The Local
Cilento is the spur that sticks out the western front of Italy's ‘foot', just before Campania becomes Calabria. It is part of the province of Salerno, some 100 kilometres south of the well-trodden Amalfi Coast.
The ranking picked out the coastline and sandy beaches near Pollica as being among the best in Italy – though the Cilento region has no shortage of other unspoilt (and often rather wild) beaches to explore.
The southern Tuscan region of Maremma is home to a long stretch of scenic and unspoilt coastline, dotted with small summer resort towns like Castiglione della Pescaia, in the province of Grosseto, which was highlighted in the ranking.
Castiglione della Pescaia, Grosetto, in Tuscany's Maremma region. Photo: Depositphotos
Castiglione della Pescaia is a peaceful spot where tiny fishing boats still bring in the day’s catch, mooring alongside gleaming white yachts in the picturesque harbour and wide beaches stretching along the surrounding coast.
The area gets few foreign visitors, though locals know that the fine, sandy beaches here are among the best in the country, stretching out to the edge of the pine groves, with many small, secluded bays perfect for swimming, sailing and sunbathing undisturbed.
The island of Sardinia is famous for having the kind of brilliant white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters you might expect to find in the Caribbean, so it's no surprise that many parts of the island scored highly in the ranking.
Seven of the island's coastal resort areas were recognised, with the highest rankings going to the region of Posada, which is just below Olbia, and the coastline around Baunei in the eastern region of Nuoro. The entire coastline north and south of here is dotted with tiny cale, or coves, which frequently appear at the top of “best beaches” lists
To the north there's also the Gallura area, and possibly the most famous beach mentioned on the list was Chia, in the southern area of Domus De Maria.
Puglia, the heel of Italy's “boot”, has long been a popular summer spot for Italians, and in the past few years it's become much more popular among overseas visitors too.
The Adriatic coastlne around Monopoli has everything from wild, rocky coves to luxurious private beach clubs. Photo: Clare Speak/The Local
The Adriatic coastline between Bari and Brindisi, which includes holiday hotspots like Monopoli and Polignano a Mare, was recognised for its clear waters and the many picturesque rocky coves or cale dotting the coastline.
Further south near Lecce, the slightly more peaceful coastlines of the Alto Salento Adriatico and Alto Salento Jonico areas also scored highly.