In Italy the sea in autumn and winter reserves beautiful surprises and unique suggestions. Here is the top 10 places not to be missed
There are those who think that an holiday by the sea in autumn or winter is boring or even sad. The Italian coast, however, is full of charming villages, islands and towns to visit even out of season. Not being able to go to the beach, you could for example take the time to learn about the local culture and cuisine, or take long walks to discover the beauty of those places without the summer heat or crowds.
Not to mention how pleasant it can be, when the days get colder, to spend a few hours warming up in the sun of a mild Mediterranean autumn.
10. Porto Ercole - Tuscany
This small village of not even 3000 inhabitants is located on the Argentario, in the province of Grosseto. It was originally a simple fishing village but over time it has become a popular summer holiday destination also frequented by VIPs.
Those who love the sea in autumn, however, will find unique atmospheres here, and a fascinating village enclosed within a walled enclosure. Between narrow alleys and steep stairways you can reach the Rocca and the other Spanish fortifications that dominate the bay.
On the seafront, however, there are bars and shops but also small shipyards where you can browse and peek at the work of the fishermen.
9. San Benedetto del Tronto - Marche
Art nouveau villas and contemporary sculptures that make it an open-air museum. San Bendetto del Tronto is this and more, and an interesting place, always. The ancient center is known as "Città Alta" the Upper Town, because it is located on a hill and dominates the sea. However, it can be said that the heart of the town is its promenade on the sea, one of the most beautiful in Italy. Along its 9 km you will find gardens, cycle paths and dozens and dozens of different palm species.
If the weather is really bad, in San Bendetto del Tronto you will also find several museums that underline the close link of this town with the sea. There is, for example, that of the Marine Civilization, or the Fish Museum. Moving a few kilometers north, you will also find the Piceno Malacological Museum, with an incredible collection of about 70,000 shells. It is the largest of its kind in the world.
Are you a book lover? At the port of San Benedetto you can also visit the monument to Jonathan Livingston seagull, inspired by the famous novel by Richard Bach.
8. Castelsardo - Sardinia
Sardinia is a wonderful land always full of attractions thanks to a generous nature and an ancient culture. Those who love the sea in autumn are spoiled for choice: Castelsardo is a particularly fascinating destination even when temperatures are low.
It is a village built along the slopes of a steep hill, around a medieval castle. The cathedral, with the bell tower overlooking the sea and the majolica dome is one of the major attractions. Castelsardo also houses the Museum of the Mediterranean, one of the best known in the whole island. The restaurants in the village also offer excellent fish-based cuisine.
If you are in Castelsardo in winter, on the occasion of the feast of the patron saint Sant'Antonio, don't miss the suggestive bonfire ceremony. It is celebrated on January 17th.
Nearby you can also visit important archaeological sites to get to know the charm of nuraghi or even more ancient megalithic constructions.
A man's heart is very similar to the sea, it has its storms, its tides and in its depths it also has its pearls.
7. Tropea - Calabria
Among the many places to visit in Calabria, Tropea is certainly among the most famous. The white sand beach is wonderful and if the climate does not allow swimming, it is still worth a visit to take a long walk in the sun and enjoy the scent of the sea in autumn.
The historic center is full of palaces that sometimes are located directly overhanging the cliff and which testify to the noble past of the city, founded by the Angevins almost a millennium ago.
The cathedral, from the Norman period, is not to be missed, but one of the most evocative monuments of Tropea is the church of Santa Maria dell'Isola. It is located on top of a huge rock that was once, in fact, an island. Then, after the earthquake of 1783 and thanks to the work of the tide, it was connected to the mainland.
6. Otranto - Puglia
It is one of the most popular summer resorts in Puglia, this town of only 5000 inhabitants, made up of whitewashed houses and small streets that intersect each other. The autumn sea here reveals many surprises, with quiet beaches and a beautiful old town.
A walk through Otranto will inevitably bring you to know the wonderful cathedral and the Aragonese castle, but not only. The walls and ramparts are still standing and visible. Moving a little further out of town you can also admire the unusual spectacle of the bauxite quarry with the lake of green water and the banks of red soil.
Otranto, moreover, due to its geographical position is the first place in Italy where new year is celebrated. An original idea for a winter holiday.
5. Rimini - Emilia Romagna
The most famous and lively summer resort on the Romagna Riviera has a lot to offer its visitors even when it's cold. Not everyone thinks of Rimini as a city of art, in fact, but there are many monuments and historical places to visit.
The triumphal arch which dates back to the imperial age, for example, is the most important in Northern Italy. In Rimini there is also the Roman Forum, where Caesar parried the crowd after crossing the Rubicon river. The Cathedral, better known as the Malatesta Temple, is another symbol of the glorious history of Rimini. This is where you can admire masterpieces by artists such as Giotto and Piero della Francesca.
Finally, in Rimini there are also theme parks open on autumn weekends and during the Christmas holidays. And speaking of Christmas, the historic center lights up during the holiday period and is really fascinating, it also hosts markets and truly spectacular sand crib exhibitions.
4. Vieste - Apulia
The sea in autumn or winter always reserves great emotions. This is perhaps even more true in Vieste, Apulia, than elsewhere. The small village is located in a privileged position and offers unique views, with part of the historic center lying on a long strip of land that cuts through the sea. The houses and monuments are reflected in the water and give a show that will remain in your heart.
The historic center is a labyrinth of alleys that open from time to time to make way for churches, palaces and squares. One of the most famous is Piazza del Seggio, overlooking the rocks.
In winter in Vieste you can also visit the imposing castle and the cathedral, on the highest point of the city. If you are traveling with your sweetheart, however, make a stop at the stairway of love, which recalls an ancient legend and which is decorated with hearts and with the lyrics of an old folk song.
The harbor is also worth visiting. Here an old trebuchet is still visible, one of the ancient wooden buildings used by fishermen, while with a walk on the adjacent cliff you can admire the lighthouse located on the small islet a short distance from the coast.
Vieste, of course, also has a beach. It is bordered by high white cliffs and offers spectacular views in every season.
3. Cefalù - Sicily
A wonderful medieval village at the foot of a steep hill. This is Cefalù, famous for its beautiful sea, but not only. Traces of its Greek, Byzantine, Arab and Norman past are still clearly visible, for example in the awesome, imposing cathedral.
On the promenade you can take nice walks to reach the harbor. The village, made up of small fishermen's houses, is a real jewel with a particularly suggestive atmosphere.
Another walk you should not miss, perhaps on a warm winter morning, is the one that leads up to the top of the fortress. Here the ruins of the Temple of Diana await you together with a truly incredible view of the historic center and the sea. Unforgettable sunsets are guaranteed as well.
2. Cinque Terre - Liguria
This is one of the most beautiful areas of Liguria, and with good reason also one of the most popular of all. Visiting the Cinque Terre in winter is certainly a good idea to enjoy the countless beauties of these places in total relax.
Even if you won't be able to enjoy the beautiful Ligurian sea when the temperatures get colder, you can visit the villages with their colorful houses that make even the grayest day cheerful. Take the opportunity to get to know the double soul of these places, wedged between the mountains and the sea. Here the peasant and seafaring culture meet, forming a unique whole. You will find good food, excellent wines, high level craftsmanship and unique atmospheres.
If you love long walks there are also trekking paths that cross the region. Among the most famous is the Via dell'Amore, the Lovers Walk, a route carved into the rock, overlooking the sea.
1. Amalfi Coast - Campania
The long coastal road that goes from Sorrento almost to Salerno is an endless sequence of awesome villages to visit absolutely at any time of the year. Ravello, Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi itself are just some of the most famous. To connect them there is a long winding road that follows the profile of the Lattari mountains overlooking the sea.
When the beaches are closed and the sea is too cold, you will still find an infinite number of shops and you will get to choose from the many handcrafted products or the luxury brands. There is, of course, no shortage of restaurants where you can taste the many excellences of the local gastronomy.
The Amalfi Coast, however, is also its hinterland, where you can discover the less crowded small villages and their ancient culture. Or you could choose to walk along one of the most beautiful trekking routes in the world, the Path of the Gods. In the summer, the heat makes climbing more difficult, but when the temperatures drop and the air becomes cooler and clearer, you can fully enjoy the spectacle of nature that only these places can offer.