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Swimming in Italy

Pauline Kenny

There are many places to swim in Italy: the Mediterranean off the west coast, the Adriatic off the east coast, fresh water lakes, private and public swimming pools. We have been swimming in the coastal areas of Tuscany and Liguria several times. The Mediterranean is very salty and frequently cold. The water is clean and clear. These make for wonderful swimming conditions. You will find a few sandy beaches along the Mediterranean coast, but many are rocky. The rocky swimming areas are still good because platforms and ladders are built into the rock.

Italy can be very hot and humid in the summer, so swimming can be an essential part of your trip. We have been swimming in the Mediterranean as early as June and as late as September in Tuscany and Liguria. I think you can swim earlier and later further south in the Amalfi area and Sicily.

How to Use the Beaches

Read our Instructions for Visitors page for Swimming in Italy to learn about pay beaches vs. free beaches.

Places to go Swimming

This is a list of the swimming places we have been to or have heard about. There are many more places to swim in Italy.

Lake Como

We spent a week on Lake Como in June 1999 and had hoped to go swimming, but the weather was unseasonable cold and the lake was flooding. We did see many bathing areas along the lake, so in good weather it would be a good place for swimming.

Liguria

Levanto, September 2002. The main beach.

There are many beaches along the coast of Liguria.

  • Portofino - there are no beaches that we could see in Portofino. You anchor your yacht and swim from there.

  • Sestri Levante - a lively beach town with flat sandy beaches. We didn't swim there in June of 1999 because they were having unseasonably cold weather.

  • Levanto - a good town in a sheltered cove area with large sandy beaches. It is the town just to the north of the Cinque Terre. (Beach shown in photo.)

  • Cinque Terre - the best Cinque Terre town for swimming is Monterosso al Mare, the northern most town. It has two areas of flat sandy beach. We swam here after doing part of the Cinque Terre hike.

  • Lerici - the swimming in the town itself did not look good; too many big boats leaving oil slicks on the water. But some of the best swimming we have ever done was from the private beach Eco del Mare just south of Lerici. There are also public beaches in this area. Most beaches can only be accessed from high cliffs and the beaches around Tellaro appeared to be all rocks.

Tuscany

  • Coast of northern Tuscany - this area is famous for its beaches and fills up with Italians during July and August. The towns that stretch from Viareggio to Marina di Carrara all merge together along the road that goes along the beach. I personally do not like this region. The towns are all "holiday" towns, only fully open in the summer. The beaches are lined with huge bathing establishments differentiated from each other only by the color of their umbrellas and loungers.

  • Elba - we have not been here, but it is supposed to be a good swimming area.

  • Punta Ala - we have not been here, but will check it out on our next trip. This is supposed to be an exclusive area of Italian second homes. Nearby Castiglione della Pescaia is also supposed to be a nice town.

  • Maremma Park - there is a large park along the coast south of Grosseto. It is supposed to have wonderful sandy beaches, but the park is not always open and I am not sure how much access there is to the beaches. We went to the park in June 2000 only to find it closed. It was open three days a week and even then the numbers of people were restricted.

  • Monte Argentario - this is a big swimming area. There are flat, sandy beaches lined with camping areas and cheap motels along the Tombolo di Giannella, a long, narrow strip of land that connects the mainland to Monte Argentario. There are nicer looking swimming areas, also with flat sandy beaches, on the southern most connecting strip of land, Tombolo di Feniglia. There are small, sandy beaches on the road into Porto Santo Stefano. The rest of the island seems to have no beaches, but you get into the water from the rocks as at the hotel we like (see above).

  • Lake Trasimeno - forget about it!! This is more of a marsh than a lake. Napoleon wanted to drain it, so did the Romans I think, and they should have. There are several holiday type towns on the northern edge of the lake, but none of the swimming areas look good.

Amalfi Coast

See our Things to Do: Amalfi Coast page for details on swimming in that area.

That is all we really know about. Rimini on the Adriatic is a big holiday swimming area. The lakes in Lazio are supposed to be good for swimming.

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