If you are looking for inspiration to explore undiscovered Italian coastal towns, you’ve come to the right place. 

I have spent so many of my summers searching for picturesque beach towns in Italy, which is my home country.

Sometimes little is needed to make a stay unforgettable: a backpack, a bathing suit, a pair of comfortable shoes, and a great desire to discover.

A hidden hamlet far from the daily routine can give you emotions you have never experienced. The small towns that characterize the Italian peninsula often speak to us of history, myths, and culture.

If we could add to this also a calmness and a sense of discovery, where would you go? 

I’m thinking of seaside villages such as Tellaro in Liguria, a pleasant alternative to the coastal villages of the Cinque Terre, towns in wild Sardinia, an island bathed by pristine waters, and even quiet beach towns near Rome.

Below are some of the best coastal towns in Italy scenting of sea breeze. Getting to know them will help you figure out where you should go in Italy this summer.

14 Most Beautiful Undiscovered Italian Coastal Towns 

1. Fregene, Laziofregene-lazio

You can discover enchanting coastal towns in Italy even while basing yourself in a major city like Rome

The Eternal City can be scorching in summer, and locals seize every available opportunity to escape to the Tyrrhenian coast.

One of the favorite summer destinations for Romans, located just 40 km from the center of Rome, is the town of Fregene

Until the mid-20th century, Fregene was nothing more than a fishing village, situated in the northern part of the municipality, now known as the “Villaggio dei Pescatori.” 

However, since the 1960s, thanks to some films by director Federico Fellini set in Fregene, this town has become famous throughout Italy. From then on, Romans started frequenting its large, soft, and dark sandy beaches, and beach resorts, vacation homes, and restaurants emerged.

Many sea-loving locals have decided to settle in Fregene on a long-term basis. I have several friends who live there and who have shared with me that Fregene is one of the best coastal places to live in Italy.

Today, you can visit Fregene to spend relaxing days at the seaside. If you’re looking for a free beach, the most beautiful one is in the northern part of Fregene’s coast, where you’ll find the café “Kiosko.” 

As for beach clubs, there is truly an abundance of choices. A favorite among young adults is Singita, with a casual look, lively during aperitivo hours, accompanied by ambient music. For a more family-friendly and detail-oriented setting, 

Albos Club is a great option, complete with pools for adults and children.

For water sports enthusiasts, the perfect place is Point Break, located in the southern part of the beach, where sailing, surfing, and skateboarding are practiced, and there are also paddle tennis courts. Many beach clubs offer lunch buffet-style fish and vegetable dishes, while dinner is served with a menu.

In Fregene, there is also a large pine forest dedicated to Federico Fellini. It’s a pleasant place to go cycling, just like the village’s streets, where you can search for delicious gelato (Madagascar’s is excellent) or try sweets (Dolce di Asia has top-notch desserts). 

A cycling path also runs along the entire coastline of Fregene, so make sure to bring your bike or rent one in town.

2. Tellaro, Liguriatellaro-italy-coastal-town

This small town near Lerici overlooks the “Gulf of Poets.” Legends have it that around 1800, even Mrs. and Mr. Mary and Percey Shelley were inspired by the breathtaking sunsets seen from the “Grò” rock on the beach of Piazza della Marina. 

Strolling eastward through the carruggi – typical alleys of the Ligurian Riviera di Levante – one arrives at the Punta di Treggiano. 

Before setting to explore that cliff, get a piece of freshly baked focaccia, which you can find in one of the typical bakeries already open at the crack of dawn. Focaccia is one of the most typical Italian breads. It consists of a flatbread made from flour, yeast, oil or lard, and is high in energy.

Better to wear comfy shoes for moving further west where, having arrived at the Trigliano cliffs, you can finally take them off to dive into the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea. 

There, an iron ladder will help you in the ascent, and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you’ll appreciate the sound of the waves crashing on this great reef. 

If you travel here by car, leave it on the cemetery road. In Tellaro, as well as in most of the best beach towns in Italy, the historic center is a restricted traffic zone.

If you are up for an adventure, explore all the small bays just north and just south of Tellaro town.

Some of them, such as Groppolo Beach and Zezziggiola Beach, are among the best beaches in northern Italy.

3. Mazzorbo, Venetomazzorbo

Moving eastward in northern Italy, the colors of Mazzorbo cannot help but capture your attention. 

Its 239 inhabitants are connected to the island of Burano only by a wooden footbridge called Ponte Longo.

The advice is to get there just through that bridge to start the experience in the most authentic way. 

An alternative is the steamboat, which will transport you from the chaotic and touristy Venice to a reality where the relaxed pace of the fishermen who live there is the main thing. 

Mazzorbo is one of the best places to stay outside of Venice to avoid crowds.

The island’s history goes as far back as the 8th century, from which we can still admire the Church of Santa Caterina. The Middle Ages also played an important role, so much so that it is precisely the walls from that historical period that still protect Mazzorbo’s star element: wine.

The Venissa estate boasts one of the very few cultivations of the native Dorona grape, which practically disappeared after the tragic high water of 1966. The island’s peace combined with a good glass of wine will certainly not make us regret the chaos of the mainland.

4. Sirolo, Marchesirolo-town-in-marche-conero-riviere

Descending on the Adriatic side of the Marche region, at the Loreto exit of the A14, the medieval town of Sirolo opens the doors to the Conero Riviera for you. The green backdrop of the mountain of the same name creates a natural but, at the same time, shocking contrast with the blue of the sea. 

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One of the best places to admire this diversity is definitely Due Sorelle Beach (Two Sisters Beach), one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy. 

The whiteness of the fine sand forms the perfect interval between green and blue. It can only be reached by sea, with ferries leaving from Sirolo or other nearby towns. The two white stacks are the hosts and welcome anyone arriving on the beach in all their majesty. 

With a walk of not even fifteen minutes from the center of Sirolo, one arrives at the “Lion’s Dive“: since time immemorial the hidden white cliff has been the stage for the dives of the most daring. 

Typical taverns and handicraft shops entertain anyone passing through the village’s narrow streets. 

On your itinerary along the East Coast of Italy, you will come across some of Italy’s most characteristic restaurants. Built on the water, the traboccos are true stilts from which fishermen daily harvest the specialties the sea has to offer.

Eating on a trabocco is an unrepeatable experience, the rhythm of seafaring life gives a priceless quietness. In Sirolo no one is in a hurry, there is always time to appreciate the tranquility conveyed in the background by the sound of the waves.

Sirolo is undoubtedly one of the most charming and undiscovered Italian coastal towns.

5. Sperlonga, Laziosperlonga

Crossing the peninsula, you arrive in Lazio. In the southern part of the region, a few kilometers away from the border with Campania, the white that distinguishes Sperlonga’s houses shimmers in our eyes. 

To drive here, take the A1 highway. The exit coming from Rome is Frosinone, and the one coming from Naples is Formia

It can also be easily reached by public transportation: all regional trains on the route stop at the Fondi-Sperlonga station.

As soon as you get there, the sea air transports you through its narrow alleys, characterized by places offering the freshest fish and hearty aperitifs.

Apparently, Sperlonga’s history dates back to the time of the Spartans, but it is the Roman people who left tangible memories that can still be visited today. One among many is the Villa of Tiberius, which, with its natural grotto houses pools and statues that despite the fact that thousands of years have passed retain all their beauty.

If you are fascinated by caves, not to be missed is the one overlooking the Spiaggia delle Bambole Beach

On the road from Sperlonga to Itri (another medieval town perched on the hinterland with spectacular views), you can park your car on the side of the road and take a small path that descends to the sea.

After a few minutes of walking, the paradisiacal little beach emerges from the foliage of the nature that borders it. 

Undiscovered and wild, far from light pollution, Spiaggia delle Bambole Beach with its namesake cave is the perfect place to spend a romantic evening under the stars.

Make sure to add this picturesque town south of Rome to your itinerary through Italy off the beaten path. Sperlonga and its surroundings hold some of the most beautiful beaches near Rome.

This village of white houses perched above the sea is one of the best coastal towns in Italy.

6. Bosa, SardiniaBosa, Sardinia

Let’s move on to Sardinia, one of Italy’s two main islands.

Just 45 km south of Alghero stands Bosa. If you would rather not use a car, you can also reach Bosa by public transport, such as the ARST company buses.

Here the white, rural Sardinia of the nuraghi gives way to a village where the bright colors of the houses and the blue of the sea and river that bathe it dominate.

Sardinia’s only navigable waterway, the Temo runs through the entire town, and among its distinctive buildings, we also discover the oldest tanneries in Italy.

Strolling through the historic center, innovative elements respectfully contrast Bosa’s history, so we can have a coffee in a modern bar overlooking a small square whose origins can even be traced back to the Phoenician peoples.

The sea air invades every alleyway in the village. With a walk of only 20 minutes, you arrive at Bosa Marina, where one of the most beautiful beaches of Sardinia keeps you away from what real life is like by immersing you in a dream.

7. Scopello, Sicilyscopello-best-beach-town-in-italy

Driving along the western coast of Sicily we arrive at one of the most picturesque villages on the island: Scopello.
Very easy to reach by car, driving along the A29 we take the Castellammare del Golfo exit and continue to the junction for Scopello.
To welcome us are two large scopelos precisely, that is, “rocks” in Greek, which give the name to the little village. 

But the history of Scopello goes back many centuries earlier: historians entrust the first signs of civilization as far back as the second century B.C., whose columns and priceless artifacts we can admire as we walk through the archaeological areas.
The signs of the past are also clearly visible on the beaches. If we are looking for a space away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life Cala Bianca is the place for us.

Ancient ruins face a crystal-clear blue sea, but this enchanting hidden space is also enriched by the greenery of nature.
To get there, the short walk on a dirt road also allows us to admire the Gulf of Castellammare and San Vito Lo Capo.
Snorkeling lovers do not forget masks and fins, the rocky seabed a few meters from the shore composed of fine sand gives a priceless spectacle among fish and marine biodiversity really rare to find elsewhere.

8. Santa Marinella, Lazio

Most coastal towns in Italy develop on natural headlands. This is the case in Santa Marinella, located in northern Lazio, where the coast creates a 90-degree angle.

The village was the site of an ancient Roman port, and is still an archaeological site where research is being conducted. 

The coast here is rocky but accessible, perfect for snorkeling. Locals love this stretch of coastline so much that they have even built a small artificial sand beach, where it is almost impossible to find a spot in summer.

Better then to stroll along the waterfront and enjoy a sunset while savoring homemade gelato from Gelarmony or a dish of fresh catch from the Acquamarina restaurant.

To find the perfect beach, indeed one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy, move a few kilometers further south, near the Santa Severa train station.santa-severa-beach-italy

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Here is Santa Severa Beach or Spiaggia del Castello, a long, wide stretch of golden sand bordered by crystal-clear sea.

The Renaissance Santa Severa Castle dominates the beach. You can visit its outer courtyards for free, or with a €6 ticket, you can access some of the museums that tell the site’s history from Etruscan times to the present day.

9. Chianalea, Calabriachianalea

Let’s leave the islands and continue the journey among the villages on the tip of the boot. 

The town of Chianalea and its swordfish fishermen await us for an experience dictated by amazing scents, landscapes, and flavors.

To get there, take the highway A2 and exit at Scilla. If the stress of the car is not what suits you, take a train. Getting off at the Chianalea stop, you’ll arrive comfortably 100 meters away from the waterfront promenade of one of the best beach towns in Italy.

Also nicknamed “Venice of the South,” in this quaint Italian beach town the houses face the sea of Calabria and are caressed by the water all year round.

Losing yourself in its narrow alleys, the scents of the place accompany you on a tour where ancient architecture reigns supreme. You can admire structures that date as far back as the 1600s.

One of these is the Ruffo Castle, which stands on a stupendous rock where the view that stretches to the Aeolian Islands will leave you breathless.

Lovers of authentic cuisine should aim the alarm clock early and rush down to the port of Scaro Alaggio: local fishermen will delight us with their best catch and lots of tips on how to cook it.

The Purple Coast that is home to Chianalea is full of hidden coves to explore that are true Italian hidden gems

But if you want to pamper yourself for a day, the small, well-equipped Lido will give us magical and truly picturesque moments.

10. San Vito Chietino, Abruzzosan-vito-chietino-abruzzo

If you have come across this article, I bet you’ve already heard about the Amalfi Coast, but what about the Trabocchi Coast? It’s a stretch of the Adriatic Coast located in the Abruzzo region. Approximately 60 km of coastline from the city of Ortona to Vasto are connected by a cycling path that follows the route of an old disused railway.

By bike (or on foot if you prefer), you can explore the beaches and towns along this less touristy but picturesque Italian coastline. 

The Trabocchi Coast takes its name from the “trabocchi,” traditional stilt structures that local fishermen used to build in the water to lower large nets for fishing. These trabocchi still exist today, and there are many of them. 

They are connected to the beach by narrow wooden piers. Some have been converted into seafood restaurants, like the Trabocco Valle Grotte. Dining in a trabocco, accompanied by the sound of water and under the starry sky, is one of the most romantic things to do in Italy.

Speaking of lesser-known beach towns in Italy, I highly recommend one along the Trabocchi Coast. San Vito Chietino is perched on a rock spur that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Costa dei Trabocchi. 

The town has only 5,000 inhabitants and is a peaceful place to stay if you have a car that allows you to reach the beach in just a few minutes.

Alternatively, you can stay in Marina di San Vito, where you’ll find affordable and excellent seafood restaurants like Trattoria La Cantina

Typical dishes include mussels with tomato and fried seafood. The beaches near San Vito have small pebbles, and one of the largest and most beautiful free beaches is Fossacesia Marina.

11. Marzamemimarzamemi-town

If you’re seeking authentic and undiscovered seaside towns in Italy, the town of Marzamemi is the hidden treasure you’ve been searching for. 

Nestled in the southeastern corner of Sicily, this enchanting fishing village exudes an old-world charm and offers a truly unique experience away from the well-trodden tourist paths.

Marzamemi’s history dates back centuries, and as you stroll through its narrow cobblestone streets, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a time capsule. 

The village’s picturesque harbor, lined with colorful fishing boats, adds to its idyllic ambiance, creating the perfect backdrop for leisurely exploration and peaceful relaxation.

The village of Marzamemi can be found along the east coast of Sicily, between the towns of Noto and Pachino. 

Also consider it as a day trip from beautiful Siracusa, rich in history and fascinating cultures.

But if you come this far, it is to relax and fill your eyes with the colors of the very clean sea, the details of the village houses, and the plants displayed outside the houses.

Not to mention the scents of the typical dishes. If you come all the way here, it is definitely also to eat!

Try the seafood dishes at the Restaurant Calamarò, which has a picturesque location and outdoor tables overlooking the town’s quiet marina. 

One of Marzamemi’s most captivating aspects is its deep-rooted fishing tradition. The main historic landmark in the village is the “tonnara,” once a thriving tuna fishing and processing center. Though the tonnara is no longer in operation, the remnants of this age-old tradition can still be felt, providing a glimpse into the area’s rich cultural heritage.

In Marzamemi, you’ll find tranquility and serenity that are rare to encounter in the more popular Italian coastal towns. Each moment spent in Marzamemi is a chance to connect with nature and yourself.

Finally, if you’re a lover of cinema, Marzamemi may feel strangely familiar, as it has played a supporting role in various films and TV series, adding another layer of intrigue to this already fascinating destination.

It was Gabriele Salvatores’ film Sud that introduced Marzamemi to Italy.

Several scenes from the famous TV series Inspector Montalbano were also filmed here.

Since 2000, the village has hosted the Festival Del Cinema di Frontiera, held in winter.

12. Santa Teresa di Gallura, Sardiniasanta-teresa-gallura-rena-bianca-beach

Now I take you by the hand again to discover “the tropics of the Mediterranean.” We are going to the northeastern part of Sardinia, the second largest island in Italy, to the region of the island known as “Gallura.” 

Gallura is a strip of land that protrudes toward the French island of Corse.

The main town in the area is Santa Teresa di Gallura.

Santa Teresa Gallura offers a diverse range of attractions that showcase the island’s rich history, natural beauty, and warm hospitality. From mysterious historical sites to picturesque landscapes, the town is a perfect blend of Sardinian culture and nature.

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One of the highlights is Capo Testa, a peninsula connected to the mainland by a sandy strip. The unique granite rock formations, resembling fingers reaching for the sky, create a mesmerizing sight. 

The enchanting Valle della Luna, known as the “Moon Valley,” features a small hippy community amidst the granite rocks.

Cala Spinosa Beach and the Capo Testa Lighthouse offer breathtaking views of the Straits of Bonifacio and Corsica’s southern coasts. For those seeking relaxation, Rena Bianca Beach, situated at the base of Punta Falcone, provides a pristine sandy paradise.

History enthusiasts will appreciate the Lu Brandali Archaeological Site, a well-preserved nuragic complex with a permanent exhibition showcasing various archaeological finds. The site, managed by an all-women’s cooperative, also offers 3D prints and virtual tours for an interactive experience.

To complete the experience, indulge in Gallura’s cuisine, which offers a wide array of dishes ranging from seafood delicacies to cheese and meat-based specialties, like Galluran soup

If you are on the hunt for authentic restaurants, I recommend at least a day trip to La Maddalena Archipelago, which is also a national park. Here you will also find many pristine beaches.

Ferries to the Maddalena Archipelago leave from Palau.sea-in-santa-teresa-gallura

Although there are indeed many picturesque small towns in Italy by the sea, Santa Teresa di Gallura has an edge.

What makes it excel is the presence of the La Maddalena National Park and so many different landscapes, all breathtaking and within reach.

I am thinking especially of the large and small beaches of the whitest sand as well as the bays nestling in large rocks shaped over the centuries by the wind.

13. Porto Ercole, Tuscanyporto-ercole-town-in-tuscany

The southern part of Tuscany is home to some of the prettiest and most undiscovered coastal villages in Italy. 

I’ll bet you’ve never heard of the Argentario Peninsula, which sprawls around Mount Argentario and is connected to the Tuscan mainland by three narrow strips of land. 

The peninsula is home to two large beaches and many small bays washed by crystal clear sea; it is undoubtedly one of Tuscany’s hidden gems.

The best base for exploring this natural paradise is the small harbor town of Porto Ercole.

Porto Ercole features two parts: one that embraces the harbor and one that sits on a rocky outcrop, housing the remains of the ancient city walls and the majestic Rocca (fortress). The fortress dates back to the Middle Ages and was restored and expanded many times over the centuries.

To access the most ancient part of the village, you need to climb about a hundred steps. If you cannot walk, choose accommodation in the area surrounding the harbor, which is full of restaurants and souvenir stores.

From the Rocca, you can embark on an easy scenic walk that will take you to Forte Stella, a defensive building from the Renaissance period with a curious six-pointed shape. 

From here, you can enjoy a romantic sunset overlooking Feniglia Beach, which stretches for about 6 km along one of the strips of land connecting the Argentario Peninsula to Tuscany.porto-ercole-tuscany

If you are traveling with children, I highly recommend visiting this beach. The seawater here is shallow for many meters due to the presence of a shoal. Behind the beach lies the Tombolo Nature Reserve, a protected area covered entirely by pine forest and Mediterranean scrub. You can explore it on foot or by bicycle. If you travel by car, you can leave it at the paid public parking lot near Camping Feniglia.

If you enjoy swimming and snorkeling, visit the bays of Cala Piccola and Cala Gesso, and don’t forget to bring fins, a mask, and a mouthpiece with you. The most convenient means of exploring all the small bays of the Argentario Peninsula is by scooter.

Porto Ercole is definitely one of the cutest small beach towns in Italy near Rome and Florence.

If you can’t find a place to stay in Porto Ercole, don’t despair. Very close to Porto Ercole are Orbetello and Porto Santo Stefano, a little bit bigger but still worthy of exploration.

14. Porto Azzurro, Tuscanyporto-azzurro

The third largest island in Italy is Elba Island, after Sicily and Sardinia.

I learned about Elba Island through a book set in Italy. A few months after reading the book, I visited this island, which is a true natural paradise, and then visited it again the following year.

In fact, it takes repeated visits to discover all the more than 100 beaches, washed by crystal-clear sea, that Elba’s shores host.

Elba Island is part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park and is its largest island. The island is located about 40 km from the port of Piombino, a city in northern Tuscany.

By ferry, you will reach the island in about an hour. The views that await you are breathtaking: beaches first and foremost and small bays of sand or stones, mountains, rocky or green hills, and picturesque villages.

The island of Elba is a destination for local Tuscan, Italian, and northern European tourism. Therefore I recommend that you visit in the low season or in June or September. Otherwise, you will have to share the beaches with lots of other people.

Of the places where we stayed on Elba Island, the best seems to us to be the village of Porto Azzurro. Here, on summer evenings, there is a craft market, open-air cinema, and concerts in which the locals lively participate.

We had a fantastic pizza and seafood risotto at Calafata Restaurant, near Porto Azzurro’s marina.

From Porto Azzurro, you can visit some of the most beautiful beaches in this part of Elba Island such as Barbarossa Beach, Madonna delle Grazie Beach, and Laconella Beach.

Porto Azzurro and its surroundings will keep you busy for at least 5 days. If you have more time to spend on the stunning Elba Island, I recommend visiting these other towns as well:

  • Portoferraio
  • Capoliveri
  • Pomonte
  • Chiessi
  • Marciana Marina

They are among the largest settlements on the island and also some of the best beach towns in Italy where you can spend your summer vacation.

Wrap-up

As you may have guessed from reading this article, when we talk about quiet Italian coastal towns we are really spoiled for choice, from north to south and on the islands. 

Some of these undiscovered Italian coastal towns are easily accessible from popular cities such as Rome, Florence, and Venice.

Add them to your itinerary in Italy at any time of the year and these small Italian coastal towns will let you experience local culture in an authentic way.

Of the natural wonders of Italy you will surely be aware. Well, you can enjoy them in a privileged way and together with a few other spectators by exploring underrated spots on the Italian coast.

Guest BIO: Lisa is an Italian mom passionate about traveling and writing. She has explored Italy extensively. You can read more from her on her travel blog Rome Travelogues.

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