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ENVIRONMENT

MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

The list of Italy's high quality beaches has grown again this year. Here, we take a look at the regions where you can find the most beaches that meet the highest global standards.

MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?
Where you can find Italy's best Blue Flag beaches. Photo by Massimo Virgilio on Unsplash

A total of 427 beaches across Italy have been awarded the internationally recognised and coveted bandiera blu (Blue Flag) status for 2022. That’s 11 more beaches than the 416 awarded last year, and up from 246 in 2020.

The north-western coastal region of Liguria took the top spot for the number of best beaches again, claiming 32 stretches of coastline of Blue Flag quality.

It’s followed by Tuscany, Puglia, and Campania, with 18 beaches each.

Beaches only get awarded this status if they meet excellent water quality and environmental standards, assigned by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).

According to the latest edition of the list, Italy is home to 10 percent of the Blue Flag beaches worldwide.

Having a clean sea or good water quality standards aren’t enough to claim the recognition. The criteria for achieving the Blue Flag status comprises 33 areas of environmental, safety and educational specifications, including beach waste management, recycling, the presence of lifeguards and the cleanliness of changing facilities.

READ ALSO: Is Italy’s west or east coast the best place for a holiday?

We looked at the regions with Blue Flag status across Italy, based on the latest FEE data. In this map, you can find where to go for a beautiful and environmentally safe day by the sea.

Watch out for the specific beach with the classification, as some municipalities have been known to put flags across the whole coastline, rather than just on the stretch where the award applies.

Here’s a list of the Blue Flag beaches, according to region:

Liguria – 32 beaches

Bordighera, Sanremo, Taggia, Riva Ligure, Santo Stefano al Mare, San Lorenzo al Mare, Imperia, Diano Marina. Ceriale, Borghetto Santo Spirito, Loano, Pietra Ligure, Finale Ligure, Noli, Spotorno, Bergeggi, Savona, Albissola Marina, Albisola Superiore, Celle Ligure, Varazze, Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure, Chiavari, Lavagna, Sestri Levante, Moneglia. Framura, Bonassola, Levanto, Lerici, Ameglia.

Liguria’s beaches have the highest concentration of Blue Flag status in Italy. Photo by Florencia Potter on Unsplash

Tuscany – 18 beaches

Carrara, Massa, Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta, Camaiore, Viareggio, Pisa Livorno, Rosignano Marittimo, Cecina, Bibbona, Castagneto Carducci, San Vincenzo, Piombino, Marciana Marina, Follonica, Castiglione della Pescaia, Grosseto.

Puglia – 18 beaches

Rodi Garganico, Peschici, Zapponeta, Margherita di Savoia, Bisceglie, Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, Fasano, Ostuni, Carovigno, Castellaneta, Maruggio, Ginosa, Melendugno, Castro, Salve, Ugento, Nardò.

READ ALSO: OPINION: How tourism could help save Italy’s coastline – instead of destroying it

Campania – 18 beaches

Vico Equense, Piano di Sorrento, Sorrento, Massa Lubrense, Anacapri, Positano, Capaccio, Agropoli, Castellabate, Montecorice, Pollica, Casal Velino, Ascea, Pisciotta, Centola, Camerota, Ispani, Vibonati.

Marche – 17 beaches

Gabicce Mare, Pesaro, Fano, Mondolfo, Senigallia, Ancona, Sirolo, Numana, Porto Recanati, Potenza Picena, Civitanova Marche, Fermo, Altidona, Pedaso, Cupra Marittima, Grottammare, San Benedetto del Tronto.

Breathtaking Puglia waters. Photo by Massimo Virgilio on Unsplash

Calabria – 17 beaches

Tortora, Praia a Mare, San Nicola Arcella, Santa Maria del Cedro, Diamante, Roseto Capo Spulico, Trebisacce, Villapiana, Cirò Marina, Melissa, Isola di Capo Rizzuto, Sellia Marina, Soverato, Tropea, Caulonia, Roccella Jonica, Siderno.

Sardinia – 15 beaches

Badesi, Castelsardo, Sorso, Sassari, Santa Teresa Gallura, Aglientu, Trinita’ d’Agultu e Vignola, La Maddalena, Palau, Budoni, Oristano, Tortolì, Bari Sardo, Quartu Sant’Elena, Sant’Antioco.

Abruzzo – 14 beaches

Martinsicuro, Alba Adriatica, Tortoreto, Giulianova, Roseto degli Abruzzi, Pineto, Silvi, Pescara, Francavilla al Mare, Fossacesia, Vasto, San Salvo, Villalago, Scanno.

Sicily – 11 beaches

Alì Terme, Roccalumera, Furci Siculo, Santa Teresa di Riva, Lipari, Tusa, Menfi, Modica, Ispica, Pozzallo, Ragusa.

To find your nearest blue flag beach, you can search the interactive map here.

Trentino-Alto Adige – 10 beaches

Bedollo, Baselga di Pine’, Pergine Valsugana, Tenna, Calceranica al Lago, Caldonazzo, Lavarone, Levico Terme, Sella Giudicarie, Bondone.

Lazio – 10 beaches

Trevignano Romano, Anzio, Latina, Sabaudia, San Felice Circeo, Terracina, Fondi, Sperlonga, Gaeta, Minturno.

Veneto – 9 beaches

San Michele al Tagliamento, Caorle, Eraclea, Jesolo, Cavallino Treporti, Venezia, Chioggia, Rosolina, Porto Tolle.

Emilia Romagna – 9 beaches

Comacchio, Ravenna, Cervia, Cesenatico, San Mauro Pascoli, Bellaria Igea Marina, Riccione, Misano Adriatico, Cattolica.

Basilicata – 5 beaches

Maratea, Bernalda, Pisticci, Policoro, Nova Siri.

Piedmont – 3 beaches

Cannobio e Cannero Riviera, Gozzano.

Friulia-Venezia Giulia – 2 beaches

Grado, Lignano Sabbiadoro.

Molise – 1 beach

Campomarino.

Lombardy – 1 beach

Gardone Riviera.

To find your nearest blue flag beach, you can search the interactive map here.

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TOURISM

Trulli to treehouses: Why Italy’s tourists can’t get enough of ‘back to basics’ travel

Italy's mountain huts, treehouses and even caves are being given luxury makeovers and rented to tourists, often for eyewatering prices - and people are happy to pay. Reporter Silvia Marchetti looks at what's behind the growing trend.

Trulli to treehouses: Why Italy’s tourists can’t get enough of ‘back to basics’ travel

I believe there’s nothing more luxurious than simplicity, especially when it comes down to accommodation and travel. 

And it seems that tourists visiting Italy agree. Several accommodation business owners have recently told me there’s a high demand for chic but simple experiences, both in terms of holiday homes to rent and hotels, as well as restaurants. 

Unexpectedly, these places are more expensive to buy or rent than modern rentals and hotels. 

There’s a sort of ‘expensive poverty’ glamour that lures travelers. That’s why there’s been such a revival of ancient dwellings across Italy, well beyond the famous luxury spa-type hotels set in old cave houses like the ones in Matera, Grottole and other southern areas.

It’s an emerging trend that feeds the primeval nature of man. Travellers want to reconnect with mankind’s ancient heritage – but with money and a few modern comforts.

READ ALSO: Is Italy’s west or east coast the best place for a holiday?

Take the simple treehouses that are springing up recently in Puglia, near Foggia, within lush forests where visitors are surrounded by nature – but at the same time inside a cozy room. The experience may recall our prehistoric roots in some way.

Or reverting to sleeping in sea grottos originally inhabited by primitive men, then turned into cozy white-washed fishermen shelters where entire crews would take shelter during storms.

A renovated fisherman’s hut on Italy’s Ponza island. Photo: Touristcasa

The tiny atoll of Palmarola off Rome’s coast is dotted with fishermen grottos turned into élite summer retreats, rented with private dinghies starting from 500 euros per person per night. One such grotto home has a double entrance that cuts right through the rock, so you have panoramic sea views on both sides – great for solo morning swims. 

On the nearby island of Ponza, where caveman used to go looking for the precious obsidian black stone, clifftop seafront villas cut into hillsides are the most in-demand accommodation.

I once met a young couple who was staying in one of these for two weeks and it was funny how they enjoyed such an isolated place with no easy access (only by boat). At night they would climb down to their little dock along a steep dark path without any lights lined with prickly pear shrubs to get to a little dinghy (that comes with the villa) that would take them each time to the main village to shop, eat and so on. It was like their scooter.

I fell, scratched my legs and nearly broke my neck visiting, and it was daylight. They enjoyed going around with flashlights at night because it was cool, they said. Oh, and their kingsize shower also had a limited water supply, because it used rainwater as a source like in the good old days. 

The view from a fisherman’s hut on Italy’s Ponza island. Photo: Silvia Marchetti

This is all part of a new  trend that’s unique to Italy, given the country’s rich, ancient architectural heritage. 

The cone-shaped trulli of Puglia are an iconic type of accommodation, found not only in Alberobello, the most touristy place of all, but scattered all over the area, where families that own one in their backyard can rent it at high prices – as referenced in the funny Italian movie titled ‘Mi rifaccio il trullo’ (I’ll give my trullo a makeover).

READ ALSO: Why visitors to Italy are ditching hotels – and where they’re staying instead

Last time I visited the Alto Adige region I was surprised at seeing so many old ‘masi’, which are Alpine dairy lodges and farms built by ancient shepherd tribes with thick stone walls and slanted roofs, lavishly restyled and transformed into country houses offering ‘nature stays’. The ‘spa’ at the one I stayed at was the actual freezing stream outside with currents, so I just had to take a dip and have my legs massaged by the running water, and the spring water served at dinner came also from that same stream. 

The owners are a very rich couple who hate cars, so they would travel from their house to the lodge on horseback. Obviously all the teas and herbs I drank came from the maso’s garden.

Part of an Alpine maso in Alto Adige. Photo: Silvia Marchetti

In Sicily I found interesting salt pan mills turned into panoramic bars, while near my house medieval olive oil millis, or frantoi, are now busy pizzerias and B&Bs with stone rooms featuring the original grindstones.

In the region of Abruzzo, the entire coast is dotted with old wooden sea huts dubbed Trabocchi suspended above water with fishnets, abandoned by fishermen families after the second world war and now turned into restaurants with a cute, romantic vibe.

All these ancient dwellings which are being restored for tourist use are in demand because they offer a chapter of history and an ‘immaterial cultural experience’. That is why people are prepared to pay whatever the price. 

It’s a bit like renting a tribal tent in an African luxury resort: you’d be paying more for the ‘emotions’ it triggers than the tent itself.

With savvy travelers always looking for that special, out-of-the-ordinary experience, this ‘luxury poverty’ accommodation trend will only keep growing in popularity.

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