Italy’s Hidden Coastal Treasures

Perched atop craggy cliffs or situated in deep gorges, Italy’s hidden coastal towns are the perfect tourist-free getaways.

Italy is known for its storied cities, national monuments, and world-renowned vineyards, but away from its inland attractions, its stunning coastlines offer sandy beaches and turquoise water as clear as the Caribbean Sea. Perhaps most charming are Italy’s lesser-known coastal towns where incomers can live out their Mediterranean dreams like true locals. So, if you’re sailing in Italy, you should visit these hidden gems. From Lazio to Sicilia, here are some of Italy’s best hidden spiagge.

italy's hidden coastal
Photo by Marco Savastano on Unsplash


About 80 miles south of Rome, the serene medieval town of Sperlonga overlooks the quiet waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea with placid views once shared by famous writers, artists, and actors. Known for its ancient Roman grotto on the former stomping grounds of the Emperor Tiberius, Sperlonga is a historic beauty with cultural attractions just feet away from its balmy shores.

Sperlonga, Italy's hidden coastal
Photo by Michele Bitetto on Unsplash

Visitors can lounge on its sandy beaches beneath lush vegetation and ancient whitewashed villas that tower over the water from the high cliff above or rent small boats to glide along the Tyrrhenian waters and tour grottos along its boundless shoreline. The seaside village is speckled with small markets, gelaterias, boutiques, and restaurants and is home to a lively local crowd who fill beachside lounge bars and discotecas. With an authentic, homey feel and panoramic tropical views, Sperlonga is an off-the-beaten-path coastal treasure not to be missed in the charming western province of Latina.


Deep into Italy’s southern boot, the small Calabrian fishing village of Scilla is a sleepy haven tucked beneath the massive Castello Ruffo with sparkling beaches steeped in mythological history. Lapped by the tides of the Messina Strait, Scilla’s name is derived from the sea monster Scylla, a figure from Greek mythology who was transformed from a water nymph into a frightening beast by Poseidon’s jealous wife. While Scylla was rumored to lure and drown sailors passing through the narrow strait, her counterpart, Charybdis, challenged epic characters like Odysseus and Aeneus by creating large whirlpools that doomed sailors who passed by the close dens of Messina’s menacing monsters.

SCILLA italy

Despite its ghastly legends, Scilla’s calm waters embody the slow spirit of its quaint village, where a long sandy beach intersects with colorful villas just feet above the water and endless cobblestone lanes weave through restaurants and stores. Traditional fishing boats bob on the horizon, slowing transporting fresh catches to local markets and eateries. Scilla is considered the kingdom of swordfish for its delectable dishes served up at restaurants on every corner. Grab a fresh swordfish sandwich, pass beneath the fortified archways of its castle-crowned promontory, and kick back on Scilla’s stunning shoreline. Just be sure to keep an eye on the horizon for any cresting creatures of the deep!

Mondello Beach

Just beyond the droning buzz of Sicily’s capital city, Mondello beach transports citygoers from the busy streets of Palermo to a tranquil paradise wedged between two towering headlands. An otherworldly vacation spot, Mondello beach is home to clear, shimmering water set against a backdrop of silky white sand and distant mountains with steep cliffs cascading into the sea. Also known for its Liberty style villas, Mondello is a colorful oasis perfect for relaxing and soaking in some sunshine after long days in the city.

Mondello Beach, Italy's hidden coastal
Photo by Henrique Ferreira on Unsplash

In addition to its stunning beach, the town of Mondello is scattered with restaurants, bars, gelaterias, and small shops mostly situated along its shoreline. Beachgoers can rent umbrellas to shield the stifling Sicilian sun or recline on lawn chairs for a small fee, and boat rentals are also available for those who wish to peruse the coast or jet off for better views of the surrounding mountains. A trip to Palermo is never complete without a quick visit to the truly picturesque Mondello beach just 12km away.

Without the company of fellow tourists, these beachy towns provide travelers with a more authentic, localized view of the treasures that exist on Italy’s lesser-known coastlines, where incomers can soak up the true Italian experience along with the scorching southern sun. Home to crumbling castles, hidden coves, and cerulean waters, underrated coastal towns like Sperlonga, Scilla, and Mondello are havens for off-road explorers looking for a private glimpse of the paradise that is Italy.

Layne Deakins

Content Editor Associate

Layne is a Pennsylvania native who enjoys adventuring in nature, traveling, writing, eating, and spending precious time with her cat. Fluent in Italian, Layne jumps at every opportunity to explore the world around her, and she’s always planning for her next trip back to Italy.

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