Destination guide: Summer

19 May 2023
Written by
The Italy Insider


Summer – those days you reminisce for the entire year only for it to spring upon you unexpectedly. From salty beach days to golden skin, outdoor dinners until the late hours and sunrises that only the earliest of birds can catch. Mountains, beaches and countryside are all in their best forms during the season and on The Italy Insider we have gathered a selection of places to visit in Italy, plus a mini guide on what to do there, where to eat and where to stay.  

Porto Ercole, toscana

A characteristic fisherman’s village on Maremma Toscana’s coast. With hidden, crystal clear beaches and wine bars along the port, Porto Ercole is a fantastic summer destination.

What to do

One of the things we would recommend to do in Porto Ercole is renting a boat for the day, perhaps taking a packed lunch (pizza al taglio, supplì and albicocche with a few beers should cut it) and explore the peninsula. Head out to the little island of Giannutri and admire the raw, wild nature and swim in the transparent waters. Ps. Keep your eye out for dolphins! Otherwise, stay on land and head to one of the beaches: for towl-on-sand experience head to Acqua Dolce and Spiaggia Lunga whereas for the beach club experience with sunbeds, umbrellas and a snack bar then head to La Riva del Marchese or Le Viste Beach Club (one next to the other) – we always suggest to book your sunbed well in advance.

The Port of Porto Ercole
Captivating views

What to eat

La vivienda

Located on the outskirts of Porto Ercole at the Polo Club, this is a great spot for both groups and couples. The menu features both meat and fish and the deserts are not to be overlooked! One of our favourite dishes: Spaghetti alle vongole with tuna roe followed by Cantucci for desert, an absolute must in Tuscany. In summer, sit outside in the Veranda. WEBSITE

Alicina Hosteria

We suggest Alicina Hosteria, a seafood restaurant with tables outside in the cobbled street. Spaghetti alle Vongole with sea urchins, Fusillo with cacio, pepe and bottarga and fish filet cooked on a salt plate are a few of the dishes you can expect to find. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

If you want to live your best life you’ll love Hotel il Pellicano, which is the prime example of understated luxury. It’s nestled in a cove surrounded by nature, and it boasts a private beach, seaview rooms and an infinity pool. WEBSITE

Beach club at Il Pellicano. Ph. courtesy of Pellicano Hotels

Tropea, calabria 

Tropea is built on a promontory between the Gulfs of Gioia and S.Eufemia. The historic center is full of churches from various eras and suggestive noble palaces, in a labyrinth of narrow streets that open into the sea below. Many noble palaces overlook the sea, with windows and balconies opening onto one of the most beautiful corners of the Mediterranean. 

What to do

If you’re coming to Tropea, you’ll have to take a moment to visit The Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola, which is the symbol of the city and one of the most visited destinations in the whole of Calabria. The church stands on an isolated rock above the sea and is surrounded by typical Mediterranean vegetation, in fact is surrounded by a splendid botanical garden that can be visited, benches and flower beds. It also boasts a breathtaking view of Tropea. 

Where to eat

Our personal suggestion is Me Restaurant in Pizzo Calabro, not far from Tropea. It is a family run restaurant set on the sea with exceptional quality seafood and a very welcoming atmosphere. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

The best place for your Calabrian night is Villa Paola, a Luxury five star hotel. This place is special because it’s a renovated convent that today still retains charming suggestions of its past. Overlooking the sea and immersed in a Mediterranean garden, it is a few steps from Tropea’s center. WEBSITE

Tropea, Calabria

Sperlonga, lazio 

If you’ve been dreaming of a fritto misto by the sea, head south towards the Riviera di Ulisse, a stretch of coast between Lido di Latina and Minturno passing through Sabaudia, Gaeta, where Blue Flags alternate with clean waters. and some of the “most beautiful villages in Italy”. And not the most beautiful, but also filled with life, like Sperlonga, the summer branch of the Roman nightlife. The beach stretches between the Tower and the Villa of Tiberius, where the Roman emperor spent the summer and where fragments were found in a cave of statues and sculptural groups dedicated to the exploits of Ulysses.  

What to do

Want to visit the Emperor Tiberius’ huge holiday villa? It is in Sperlonga and it has adjoining natural cave at the edge of the beach that houses a spectacular swimming pool, statues and alcoves. 

Where to eat

To eat well you have to move towards Terracina, at the Essenza Restaurant by Simone Nardoni (one Michelin star). The menu is divided into four chapters: fish, meat, pasta and dessert. Try Crab, Summer Minestrone, Coconut and Curry Soup, Spaghetto Oyster & Caviar and finish with an essential Milk, Honey and Pollen.  WEBSITE

Where to sleep

There is a lovely hotel right on the beach, the Aurora, with white and blue rooms, simple, but with lovely terraces overlooking the sea and towards the Circeo, where the sun sets. One of the best parts is the private beach with a bar that prepares fruit smoothies for the hottest hours and an aperitif in the evening. WEBSITE

Sunset at the beach in Sperlonga

Alghero, Sardegna

Alghero is a Catalan enclave in the north western part of Sardinia. It is the 5th largest city on the island yet it has an extraordinary character. It’s surrounded by natural and archeological landscapes, pristine beaches and a very charming historical town center.

Sunsets in Alghero

What to do

Besides taking a car and exploring all the white sand beaches and hidden bays nearby (Spiaggia delle Bombarde, Spiaggia del Lazzaretto, Spiaggia di Mugoni), you musn’t leave this place without trying one of the traditional sardinian patisserie. Head to Roberto Murgia dolci in corso for an extraordinarily sweet surprise.  

Where to eat

Alghero is also named Barceloneta, therefore it comes to no surprise that Paella Algherese is a traditional dish to try. But one restaurant you must try is Al Tuguri, a historic restaurant with mediterranean cuisine based around traditional Sardinian dishes. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

Villa Mosca, a ten room octagonal Art Nouveau villa facing the sea not far from the city center, is a pleasant place to stay. WEBSITE

The Fort of Alghero

Meta di Sorrento, campania 

Sorrento is both a touristic hub and center for those wishing to explore the neighbouring towns. But the Sorrento Coast is different from the Amalfi Coast and Meta di Sorrento, the very small village before Sorrento coming from Naples is a tiny gem. A fishermen’s village located inside an enclave created by a rock spur. Don’t expect a beautiful town center as such but expect authenticity, peace and magic. Magic in the attention of the locals, magic in the sunset that sets right in front of you over Ischia, Procida and mt. Vesuvius, magic in living true Italian authenticity.

What to do

Besides spending the day at one of the beaches, Sorrento is only twenty minutes away and there’s a direct bus from Meta, From there, you can get a boat and spend the day in Capri, Ischia or Procida. You can also explore the beauty of the Sorrento coast, perhaps taking a hike along the Ieranto Bay.

Where to eat

You should make a reservation at Ristorante La Conca Alimuri, down on the beach. This restaurant offers a menu that has both traditional seafood dishes such as Spaghetti alle Vongole or Fritto Misto, but also some creative additions such as Posedonia pasta (fresh-egg pasta shaped like the seaweed) with seafood or linguine with prawns and artichokes. It’s a very modest place with an excellent quality to price ratio. Ps. head down at sunset for a mesmerising view. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

If you want to treat yourself you’ll have to stay at Laqua by the Sea, one of Cannavacciuolo’s properties nestled in a bay. It’s a very intimate b&b style hotel with a SPA with only six suites with private swimming pools and an immaculate attention to design. WEBSITE

Laqua by the Sea. Ph. Credits Beatrice Pilotto

Ischia, campania

The tiny Tyrrhenian island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples, has some of the oldest, and best, thermal baths in the world, uncrowded beaches and food that blends mountain earthiness with the freshness of the sea. This makes it the perfect place to experience authentic southern Italy. 

What to do

Spend the day at the beach club of Scannella. With its three outdoor pools and the translucent waters of the sea in front, you’ll be spoilt for choice (it’s €25 for sunbed + umbrella). WEBSITE

Wine is an important part of Ischia as the island is renowned for its autochthonous vines. One place we suggest is Casa D’ambra. Complete your visit with a taste. WEBSITE

Spend a day at Negombo Thermal Park nestled in the bay of San Montano. Walk along the gardens and relax in the spring water. WEBSITE

Where to eat

Eden Ischia

Eden Ischia is waiting for you. It’s a hotel, restaurant, beach club and cocktail bar. Here you can eat Mediterranean cuisine facing the sea, with a view on the Aragonese castle of Ischia. WEBSITE

Dani Maison

Eat at two Michelin starred restaurant Dani Maison, of Chef Di Costanzo for a fine dining experience. WEBSITE

Umberto a Mare

Book a table perched over the sea where sunsets create the most romantic environment. Here the menu is composed of simple and traditional flavours. WEBSITE

La Lampara

At La Lampara in Ischia, dinner is served overlooking the beautiful Aragonese castle and the pastel pretty houses, making it a unique place to dine and relax. WEBSITE

Ischia. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantino for IschiaIsMore

Where to sleep

If you want to travel back to the 16th century, you should stay at Mezzatorre, a Pellicano hotel. Nestled in a private bay, it boasts thermal waters, an exquisite taste in design and some of the most breathtaking views of the island. WEBSITE

Mezzatorre Hotel. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini for IschiaIsMore
Beach club in Ischia. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini for IschiaIsMore

La Valle d’Itria, Puglia

The inner area of land in central Puglia that contains fascinating towns. The main characteristic of the area is the Trulli, cone shaped domed mini houses dotted around the valley.  

What to do

You’ll definitely have to explore the white city of Ostuni, nestled between the countryside and the seaside. But also Monopoli, Cisternino and Martina Franca, charming white washed villages where you’ll feel the authenticity of the south. In the summer however, evenings are the new daytime. Head around 6/7 pm when the temperatures get cooler. Alberobello is also a classic, even if it’s always filled with tourists.  

Where to eat

In the heart of Ostuni, you can come to the Borgo Antico Bistrot to try an excellent spread of local charcuterie paired with a glass, or a bottle, of wine.  WEBSITE

Where to sleep

We suggest Masseria Moroseta, a white stone farmhouse overlooking Ostuni, the coastal part of the region. A very linear, refined structure that reflects the traditional Apuglian architecture with a modern approach to design. Simple, minimalistic and extremely aesthetic, it’s the epitome of slow, mindful travel. WEBSITE

Ostuni at Sunset

Noto, sicilia 

Noto, a town in the south east of Sicily, is part of the seven municipalities protected by Unesco for the splendor of its baroque architecture. It is loved by many celebrities such as Jacques Garcia who renovated old typical villas to make his own hideaway and glamorous stays for rentals. Still, the town keeps its authenticity and southern atmosphere, with old people sitting on the benches under the huge ficus trees and folkloric local weddings.  

What to do

The Villa del Tellaro, in Contrada Caddeddi, is a Must. It’s stunning mosaic floor dates back to the fourth century AD, and it features ancient Roman hunting scenes and banquets (open from Monday to Sunday 9 am to 7 pm). 


Where to eat

Have the best granita ever at Caffé Sicilia, in Corso Italia: lemon flavour with a soft and warm brioche in the morning, coffee+whipped cream after lunch, almond with some coffee drops in mid afternoon, gelsi (local berries) after dinner. You’ll be in the hands of Corrado Assenza, one of the top pastry chefs in Italy. Don’t miss a slice of his incredible cassata, a cake with ricotta cheese and candied fruit. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

In the barren countryside around Noto, Dimora delle Balze is an 1864 farmhouse renovated by Elena Lops which will steal your heart. It is a poetic country resort with eleven rooms built in the former agricultural spaces. The decks around the pool lead to three gazebos where you can relax whilst looking at the expanse of barren hills. Its restaurant is 100% organic, inspired by the vegetables that are produced on the farm of the same family. Breakfast is a feast of Sicilian delicacies, including cannoli and granita. WEBSITE

Dimora delle Balze
A Room at Dimora delle Balze

Isole Egadi, sicilia 

This archipelago of three islands off the coast of Trapani is a small ancient world protected by the largest marine reserve in Europe. Favignana, with the historic tonnara, Marettimo with its crystalline sea caves and trekking, and Levanzo with a few houses around the port and many coves of transparent water in which to dive. The best way to visit them is to rent a sailboat or catamaran.


What to do

Try a dry, semi-dry or sweet Marsala on the veranda of Camparía Favignana, a former plant for the slaughtering and processing of tuna, today transformed into a romantic lounge bar with music, cocktails and lounges in front of the moored boats. Next to it there is also the Bottega, a concept store with a glamorous selection of clothes, accessories and objects for the home. WEBSITE

In Levanzo, arrive before evening and reach Cala Faraglione from a path overlooking the sea (fifteen minutes on foot). Stop at the Laparanza Streat Fish Lab kiosk, order fried fish or panelle (typical cickpea fritters), a craft beer made in Sicily and wait for the sunset until the last “green ray” when the sun touches the water. At that precise moment everyone claps their hands at the show.i

Finally at sunset, head for an aperitivo at Cibo Chiacchiere Vino in Favignana. From here you’ll witness some extraordinary sunsets whilst snacking on delicious foods and sipping on local wine. WEBSITE

Where to eat

At Formica Osteria, Federica, Sicilian, and her husband Taki, a Japanese collaborator of many starred chefs, offer you red prawns, peach and finger lime and other traditional fish dishes with a sushi cut together with the best wines of Trapani. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

Stay at Dimora Cala del Pozzo: a simple, aesthetic hotel in Favignana. Rustic furniture, tropical plants and an extraordinary view to wake up to. WEBSITE

Cibo, Chiacchiere e Vino

Forte dei Marmi, toscana

It’s one of the most frequented seaside resorts in Tuscany. You come here to spend your day by the beach in an elegant beach club, sip on a spritz at sundown and explore the charming boutiques in the centre of the town after dinner (perhaps with an ice cream in hand).  

What to do

Spend your time at Alpe Mare, which is a very elegant, beautifully presented beach club. Sunbeds crowned with draping curtains and each guest is assigned a cabin equipped with a safe, USB connections and courtesy kits. WEBSITE

Where to eat

You should have a meal in Versilia, 20 minutes away from Forte dei Marmi, at Giacomo Milano. It presents itself beautifully, with a polished vintage inspired indoors and a charming dehors surrounded by plants and flowers in bloom. Located along the coast it comes to no surprise that the menu features many fresh seafood dishes but of course there’s also an integration of tuscan and milanese classics. WEBSITE

Giacomo Milano Pietrasanta

Where to sleep

We recommend Augustus Hotel Resort, a luxury hotel along the coast of Forte dei Marmi. Elegant interiors, pretty cast iron balconies that overlook the Apuan alps, a surrounding pine forest and a Lido. WEBSITE

Maratea, basilicata

Forget the Amalfi Coast, Portofino and Forte dei Marmi. Maratea in Basilicata is considered the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea for its clear waters, the cliffs overlooking the sea and the luxuriant Mediterranean scrub. On its coast, on top of the hill, the sculpture of Christ the Redeemer dominates, 20m high. It may not be Rio de Janeiro, but it is truly wonderful.  

Views from Maratea

What to do

Take a swim in Cala Jannita, a stone’s throw from the Marina di Maratea hamlet. Nicknamed the Black Beach for the color of the sand that stands out from all the others in the surroundings. You can also rent a kayak and take a tour of the caves: it is the only way to enter these hidden corners.

Where to eat

You’ll totally have to eat at Taverna Rovita, a restaurant that has a characteristic 18th century kitchen corner, Vietri ceramics, and a great enthusiasm in proposing the typical Lucanian gastronomy with a contemporary twist. One of the specialties is homemade pasta, to be combined with the labels of the careful cellar. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

If you’re feeling fancy, reserve a room at Hotel Santa Venere. Built in the 1950s, it was designed as an aristocratic villa: 34 different rooms and large bright halls with Vietri tiles, late eighteenth century furniture, Minturno ceramics and handicrafts. It’s surrounded by a large park. Renovated by production designer Pino Brescia, it is the perfect set for a vintage holiday with contemporary services. WEBSITE

Grado, veneto

In a lagoon made up of around 30 small islands, Grado has a Venitian style historic center with small squares and alleys overlooked by picturesque fishermen’s houses. A charming environment also represented by surrounding naturalistic areas.

What to do

An excursion to the lagoon among the Casoni is of duty. It’s a timeless place where fishermen once lived in these traditional houses with a reed roof, and today remain an emblem of the lagoon. 

Where to eat

You should taste the cuisine of Tavernetta Androna, a historic trattoria in the center which is one of the best places on the entire lagoon coast. Inside, it has a small and characteristic environment and outside, there’s a beautiful space. It is managed by two brothers and the menu features freshly caught lagoon fish with traditional recipes. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

If you love nature you’ll have to stay at Oche Selvatiche, which located in a natural area that plays a decisive role in the resting and wintering of water birds. It’s a small ecological and eco sustainable hotel, with 7 charming suites with spectacular views of the lagoon. WEBSITE

Dobbiaco, alto adige 

Dobbiaco is in Val Pusteria, a wide, open, sunny and very beautiful valley, on the border between the Tre Cime Nature Park and the Fanes Senes Braies Nature Park. Place suitable for both summer and winter holidays. It preserves an intact historic center, with typical houses grouped around the parish church, shops of small artisans and food specialties.  

What to do

Here you can follow the cycle path that leads from Dobbiaco village to Lake Dobbiaco, a route with an unmissable view of the Dolomites. Alternatively, you can walk the Nature Trail that winds around the lake: a thematic trail that explains in a simple way an articulated and complex natural context.  

Where to eat

You should head to Tilia Restaurant, where chef Chris Oberhammer prepares dishes that combine modernity and simplicity. His home inspired cuisine pays particular attention to the products, flavours and colours of the region. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

Give a chance to Hotel Baur Al Lago, with its early 20th century architecture that retains the charm of an old building. Built on the shores of the lake, it is a romantic and quiet place that offers recently renovated apartments, but furnished with period furniture. WEBSITE

Lake Dobbiaco

Valnerina, umbria

The Valnerina, the river Nera in its path collects the waters of rivers and streams, when it meets the Velino in the plain of Rieti, it falls downstream with the spectacular jump of the Marmore Falls.  

What to do

Let The Greenway del Nera impress you. It is an immersive experience in nature and history that, along the way, becomes increasingly harsh but never impenetrable, walking through ancient villages, fortifications, abbeys.  

Where to eat

The best of all is La Trota dal 63, with two Michelin stars, set in the scenery of the Santa Susanna spring. Start enjoying the park and the adjacent spring and then stop at the Serva brothers’ table: a roundup of elegant and pleasant recipes artistically presented on the plate. WEBSITE

Tables at La Trota dal 63′

Where to sleep

Albero Diffuso Crispolti, which has its access from a fortified gate and climbs up between walls rich in history, will take your breath away. The idea of the restoration of the Borgo di Labro is the work of the Flemish architect Yvan Van Mossevelde. A ‘minimalist’ style of furniture was chosen for the interiors and the absolute linearity of the shapes. An ‘intellectual’ simplicity that enhances the architectural structure and the ancient environments. You breathe peace, you listen to the silence. WEBSITE

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