10 Italian Islands To Visit This Summer

10 Italian Islands To Visit This Summer

Swerve the day-trippers heading to Capri and Sardinia: here’s our pick of the Italian islands to explore if you’re seeking a slower pace of summer living

has around 450 islands, many of which have fiercely
independent identities, cuisines and cultures. From the remote
Aeolian islands just off Sicily to the lake islands of northern Brescia, and
Puglia’s crystalline waters and white sandy
islets, there are surprises at every turn.

Transport in Italy is not famous for being efficient at the best
of times, and this slows down even more when it comes to
high-season ferry-hopping. Don’t see these as destinations to be
hurried or fitted into a long weekend, but places in which to
pause, taking refuge in the calm lack of diversions and the simple
pleasures of island life. Here are 10 of our favourite Italian
islands to head to this summer.

Our 10 favourite Italian islands

Procida, Italy



Although it covers just 4sq km, Procida’s crumbling pastel
harbour has featured large on the silver screen, appearing in
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s performance of Cleopatra; in
the 1994 comedy Il Postino; and, most memorably, as the backdrop
for Jude Law, Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow’s exquisite love
triangle in The Talented Mr Ripley. No wonder, then, that the
picture-perfect island was declared Italy’s capital of culture for
2022, with over 100 art installations and creative projects
launched to mark the occasion, many of which are still in situ. The
island has lost none of its movie star looks, with washing still
fluttering in the breeze against colourful homes, and 50cc scooters
coughing and spluttering along dusty roads. An island highlight is
the seafood: try harbourside spots like Ristorante da Mariano and
Il Pescatore.

Ponza, italy

Ponza and Palmarola


Midway between Florence and Rome, Ponza’s striking white
cliffs rise from the water as you approach by ferry or yacht. There
are few hotels, and even fewer cars; this is an island for lazy
days of swimming, sunbathing and reading. There are a few sandy
beaches you can reach by foot, but most of the island is best
explored by hiring a little motorboat with a skipper for a day or
two. In recent years, it’s developed something of a VIP reputation,
thanks to a cluster of celebrity visitors, but the island is still
laid-back at heart. Pack a picnic, or pootle into Cala Feola and
grab a table at rustic La Marina, where the white tables pop
against the crystalline water just below. Ponza is steeped in
history: scholars believe it is the ancient island of Aeaea
depicted in Homer’s Odyssey, and you’ll still find vast tree stumps
from when it was first settled in Etruscan times. If you feel like
venturing somewhere even more remote, hop over to neighbouring
Palmarola island for a dip in the transparent blue waters.

San Nicola, Italy

San Nicola


Puglia might be everyone’s favourite Italian destination this summer, but the
lesser-visited quintet of islands off the Gargano peninsula are
still something of a secret. The two inhabited islands – San Nicola
and San Domino – promise white cliffs and pristine sandy beaches
frequented by olive-skinned locals and in-the-know visitors from
the mainland. Ferries run year-round from Termoli port to San
Nicola, the smaller and prettier of the two. Summer visits should
involve snorkelling and chilled-out beach days; in the shoulder
season, we’d recommend tracing hiking trails through shaded pineta
(pine forest) in search of Neolithic ruins. For the best underwater
adventures, take a boat over to the uninhabited island of Capraia
and swim through the sheltered Cala dei Turchi. Or, dive down to
the submerged statue of the saint Padre Pio, between Capraia and
San Nicola.

La Maddalena, Italy

La Maddalena


There’s a reason why Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast)
has been given the nickname- the waters here have a luminosity that
rivals even those of the Caribbean. A short boat trip from the
coastline, between Palau and Capo d’Orso on Sardinia, and a flipper
flick away from southern Corsica, you’ll find over 60 islands and
islets making up the Maddalena archipelago. Once a smuggler’s
paradise – and often forgotten by the powers that be in designating
islands to foreign rule throughout history – La Maddalena residents
are proudly independent and culturally set apart from the mainland.
On the eponymous main island, expect gelato-coloured houses and
postcard-perfect cobbled streets, but other uninhabited islands are
wild, rugged and romantic, with spectacular beaches fringed by
fragrant herbs. For snorkelling, make a beeline to Cala Coticcio on
Isola di Caprera, and Spiaggia del Cavaliere on Isola Budelli,
where the otherworldly pink granite rock formations feel like a
different world.

Giudecca, Venice



For contemporary art, craft and design, head to Giudecca, one of
Venice’s 30 islands. Unlike the tourist hotspots of Murano and
Burano, the old industrial quarter of the floating city has held
onto its storied boathouses and factories. Giudecca’s contemporary
art scene has exploded in the past two decades, transforming the
island from a working quarter to one of Venice’s most exciting new
districts. Uber-contemporary creative hub and exhibition space
, located in a disused brewery at the western tip of the
island, is a welcome break from too many frescoes and gilded
ballrooms in the rest of Venice, while CREA Cantieri del
is a “contemporary arts intervention project”
that has recently started hosting classes in cutting-edge art

Stromboli, Italy


Aeolian Islands

Staying on an island that is a vast and still-active volcano
rising out of the sea may not seem like the best idea for a dolce
vita escape to the Italian seaside, but then, you haven’t seen
Stromboli. This rugged Aeolian island has black beaches, steaming
hot springs, magnificent hiking opportunities and a smattering of
low-key luxe hotels to stay in. The best beaches, restaurants and
shops are found in San Vincenzo and Piscità at the north-eastern
tip of the island, where all the ferries come and go. With a
fraction of the tourists, Stromboli makes a great base from which
to explore the six other Aeolian islands.

FAvigana, Italy


Aegadian (Egadi) Islands

Off Sicily’s western coast, the cluster of three small Egadi
islets are about as far from the rest of Italy as you can get. In
fact, you’re closer to southern Sardinia or northern Tunisia than
to mainland Italy. The largest and most charming island is
Favignana, at roughly 20sq km. Expect exceptionally clear waters
off coves like Lido Burrone and Cala Azzurra, where you can find
local fishermen to take you on a boat trip. Nature lovers should
hop over to the smaller but no less lovely Marettimo, which is home
to myriad species of birds and native plants. The easiest way to
get to the trio of islands is to take a ferry from Trapani.

Monte Isola, Italy

Monte Isola


A mountain in the middle of the lake, the northern Italian
island of Monte Isola is sprinkled with sleepy fishing harbours and
mesmerising waterside views at every turn. Explore the 12
traditional villages that nestle in its hills and along the
shoreline, with charming footpaths swinging through olive groves
between them all. Stay at Hotel Sensole, a 19th-century manor house converted
into a boutique hotel, or on the mainland at L’Albereta, before
taking a boat to explore. Off the island, day trips can be taken to
Franciacorta to the south-east, a region known for producing
Italy’s finest metodo classico sparkling wine.

Giglio, Italy



The silvery Etruscan Coast may not have the glitz of the Italian
Riviera or the Amalfi Coast, but its seven islands are no less
marvellous if you know where to look. The best-kept secret among
Italians is little Giglio, named after the native sea lily that
grows along the beaches in springtime. A popular hiking
destination, thanks to its natural beauty and fine, white-sand
beaches, Giglio’s relative lack of accommodation means it remains
manageably quiet even in peak season. If you visit by ferry for the
day, stroll a few minutes to find the magnificent Cala delle
Cannelle, a crescent-shaped bay with sparkling turquoise sea. For
those wanting to stay longer – and wake up mere metres from the sea
– we’d recommend pitching your tent at Campeggio
Baia del Sole




The largest of Italy’s islands is having a mini renaissance –
and it’s not just down to the latest season of The White Lotus
putting cliffside Taormina on radar. Head inland and you’ll
discover an altogether quieter, more rustic and remote landscape –
one of lunar-like red-rock hills, and dry, arid pastoral expanses.
Check out Anna Tasca Lanza’s sumptuously rustic cookery school
for immersive culinary experiences, or try a wine tasting on Mount
Etna with Assovini. In Mussomeli, a sleepy medieval town in the
island’s heart, expat Aussie Danny McCubbin has helped counteract
the slow decline of a beautiful old town by opening community
project The Good Kitchen. Working with charitable
partners to provide opportunities for young people and kids in the
kitchen, and feed vulnerable individuals, the space’s regular
open-to-all dinners are welcoming to town visitors (and you’ll be
able to chat to locals about places to visit, including the
seriously good, family-run Pizzeria Lucerna nearby).

Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy

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