Whatever the weather, we always find our minds returning longingly to sun, sand and sipping cocktails. We think Italians know what makes a beach special, so here are five of our favourites, each with the boutique hideaway for a sensational stay. Some are a little off the beaten track, but that makes them all the more worth finding…
Cala Soraya – Isola di Spargi, Sardinia
The island of Spargi, part of the La Maddalena archipelago off the coast of Sardinia, takes a little work to get to, but the effort is rewarded. Far from the crowded beaches of the main island, here beachgoers can enjoy peace and quiet on one of the island’s many secluded coves and sandy beaches. The standout here is Cala Soraya, a stretch of golden sand backed and protected from the winds by a crescent of low shrubs. This is a place to stretch out with a towel – occasional boats will bring a few beachgoers who are in on the secret, but there’s no deckchairs rented by the hour here, no blaring music or overpriced drinks, just the sand and the cool blue sea.
Where to stay – Bajaloglia Resort
With views over the beautiful Gulf of Asinara, Bajaloglia Resort is a luxurious retreat sequestered in an unspoiled valley near to the medieval town of Castelsardo. The port of Porto Torres is just a short drive away, where you can catch a boat to Spargi.
Cala Piccola – Monte Argentario, Tuscany
Here you will find rocky coves and some of the clearest water around. The pebble beaches here surrounding Monte Argentario, a mountain towering out of the sea off the Tuscan coast, are known for their exclusive nature – some of the tiny beaches are only accessible by boat and their locations are closely guarded. There is plenty of breathtaking scenery here and is amazing for photographers. The snorkelling and scuba diving are superb. There are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby to quench your thirst.
Where to stay – Argentario Golf Resort & Spa
With an acclaimed golf course, luxurious spa and a philosophy that emphasises harmony with its natural surroundings, Argentario Golf Resort & Spa is a wonderful boutique on the Monte Argentario peninsula.
Torre Dell’Orso – Puglia
Located in the Apulia region of south-east Italy, the Torre del’ Orso is made up of gorgeous expanses of sand, punctuated by many rocky coves. Inside these coves, swimmers can find a range of pools, nooks and lagoons that make for secluded and relaxed fun. It can be busy in summer, but not so in spring and autumn. You may find yourself with an entire cove to yourself, and with magnificent weather – the temperature around here never dips too much and the sun shines approximately 300 days per year.
Where to stay – Furnirussi Tenuta
After a good night’s sleep in a stylish, minimalistic suite, swim in the pool, designed to look like a lake, or unwind in the hammam carved into the local stone. The hotel also features a popular restaurant, the produce for which is supplied by the working farm on the hotel’s property.
San Fruttuoso – Portofino, Liguria
Another gem that takes a little patience in getting to. This Ligurian beauty is accessible only by a winding trail, or by boat from Rapallo or Santa Margherita Ligure. However, visitors are rewarded by a gorgeous stretch of sand underneath the gaze of the ancient San Fruttuoso monastery. It’s a laid-back beach with much to offer. Terrific for swimming and paddling, so ideal for kids, but one of the real treasures of this beach is the scuba diving and snorkelling further out. A highlight is the ‘Christ of the Abyss’; a bronze statue sunk 17m underwater into the seabed. Erected to commemorate a drowning, it has now become a popular site for divers.
Where to stay – Eight Hotel Paraggi
Situated in a beautiful sandy bay just a short distance from Portofino, Eight Hotel Paraggi has a stylish contemporary décor and a fantastic beachfront restaurant.
Lying below the terraced town of Taormina with its stunning Greek amphitheatre, the gorgeous Isola Bella is actually a small islet connected to the mainland by a thin strip of sandy beach. Isola Bella was once the home of 19th-century gardener and environmentalist Lady Florence Trevelyan, who filled the rocky outcrop with lush vegetation from across the world. The pebbled beaches are popular with sunbathers, although it’s important to remember that the sandy strip disappears at high tide!
Where to stay – Hotel Villa Ducale
Stunning views over Isola Bella lie in wait for you at Hotel Villa Ducale, a restored aristocratic villa nestled in beautiful Taormina. The hotel’s Mediterranean garden is an oasis of tranquility, and the hotel runs a complimentary shuttle service to its private beach club on the azure water below.