11 June, 2018
For a beach holiday on Italy's western coast that doesn't involve fighting over a parasol in Positano, venture to Sperlonga, a relatively undiscovered seaside paradise located in the country's Latina province. Teetering atop a cliff, this pocket-sized town tops our list for maxing out on sunshine and minimising on crowds this summer. Its sandy facades are met by the cerulean waves of the Tyrrhenian Sea, making for Amalfi-like vistas without the price tag.
Quietly frequented by icons including Albert Camus and Cy Twombly in the middle of the 20th century, Sperlonga has a history of housing stars looking for an idealistic beach retreat sans glitz. Hop on board by shimmying into a chaise lounge at one of the town's tranquil beach clubs and spending hours lingering over a good book and an Aperol spritz.
Jutting out from a grotto is the ancient summer villa of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. A visit to the villa's ruins is a must, as is dropping into the adjacent museum that houses sculptures representing The Odyssey that were found within the cave. The grotto itself is also quite a sight to behold, as Tiberius is said to have held many sybaritic dinner parties there.
A Sperlongan landmark that is obvious from the minute you set foot in town is the Torre Truglia, a sun-bleached tower that was used to monitor incoming pirate attacks during the 17th century. The top of the tower offers a unique vantage point for scoping out aquamarine waves breaking in the distance and blue-and-white striped umbrellas dotting nearby beaches.
Who to take with you
A friend who's obsessed with 1960s Riviera glamour.
When to go
Throughout the summer months.
Most likely to bump into
A writer dreaming up a 21st century, Italian version of Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night.
Essentials to bring with you
Channel Bardot vibes all the way; think silk headscarf, loose white button-up shirt and bikini bottoms only.
How to get there
Fly into Rome Fiumicino Airport and take the train straight to Fondi-Sperlonga station. From there, catch the bus into Sperlonga proper, no car rental necessary.