Italian Beach Vacation - where?

Jan 31st, 2006, 09:59 AM
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Italian Beach Vacation - where?

Hello Fodorites, I need your help! I am in the planning stages of my third trip to Italy in three years, and cannot decide where to go.

I am a 27-year-old female, likely travelling alone. My ideal vacation would be to spend 3-4 days in an Italian city, and then to rent an apartment in an Italian beach town for the week. I would like to get up in the morning, have a cappucino in the local bar, then spend the morning exploring, hiking or visiting sites. I would like to then return to the apartment, where I would cook a delicious lunch with the amazing fresh Italian ingredients, then spend the afternoon writing/reading/sunning on the beach. A quick nap, then dinner in town, with a stroll and perhaps a drink following.

So... Where can I find this incredible beach town? Ischia? Sicily? (and, if so, where?) SML? I've been to Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast, and while I loved both places, I am looking for somewhere new.

A few more details: I can travel any time from July through October. I don't want to rent a car. I plan to take an intro to Italian course this spring, but knowing my language facility I expect my Italian to be limited at best. As a single female travelling alone, safety is obviously a concern, though I realize that it is mainly a matter of remaining aware and not making obviously stupid choices. I do not have unlimited funds, so areas with some budget options are appreciated. While I don't plan to party the night away, I would like the town to have some semblance of a nightlife (even if it is only one local bar) and not close completely at 9:00pm.

Any thoughts? Thanks so much for your help!
KikiLee is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 12:07 PM
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I am hoping you'll get some replies because it sounds like my idea of a great vacation plan!
suze is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 12:13 PM
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We really liked the coastal area between Anzio and Gaeta.

I've also been reading a bit about Calabria lately, and the area around Tropea looks and sounds a bit intriguing.
StCirq is online now  
Jan 31st, 2006, 12:17 PM
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I may be sticking my neck out here but how about a few days in Florence then move on to Isola d'Elba? It fits all your requirements I think. I did this kind of thing throughout the 90s both with friends and family and alone. Travelled from Florence by train to Piombino then across on the ferry to Porto Ferraio. From there you can get buses all over the island. My Italian is iffy at best. Elba is easy to get to and easy to get about. There are several beach towns: Porto Azzurro, Marina di Campo (our base) and more. Safety is no problem at all, people are wonderful. Well?
gertie3751 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 12:24 PM
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Oh, thank you so much! I knew you guys would come through! To be honest, I know nothing about the areas suggested, so time to start some research! Woo Hoo! Thanks again - and I welcome any further suggestions!
KikiLee is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 12:24 PM
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I would do some looking about in Sicily. The area around Cefalu has beautiful beaches and you can reach many of the best sites on a day trip from there. Taormina is a great town,but it is up on a hill and you have to go some distance to the beach. Depending on how quiet a place you are looking for, the island of Lipari is wonderful. On a completely different note, we went to Viesta on the Gargano Penninsula one year and the beaches on the Adriatic are beautiful, but for a single woman alone, perhaps too difficult to get to. Wherever you go, it sounds like a perfect vacation. Enjoy!
TravelsWithStDavid is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 06:21 AM
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ttt for any more suggestions - thanks!

(So far I have only had the chance to research Elba, which looks divine - this is going to be a tough choice!)
KikiLee is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 01:42 PM
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Is this the same Kiki who posted a long trip report to Capri a few years back? If it is, I have to tell you that my husband and I walked through Capri with your trip report print-out held tightly in our hands.

It was priceless...I hope you report back in the same detail on this upcoming trip!
Thanks a million.
julieanne is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 01:51 PM
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While I would love to take credit, nope, not me. While I posted a brief report of my trip to Capri, it was back in Sept, not a few years ago. I believe there is/was a poster who goes by simply "Kiki" - perhaps it was her? Sorry...
KikiLee is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 02:14 PM
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3-4 days in an italian city...
Where have you been in the 1st and 2nd trip? Do you want to return there or would you want something completely different?

italian beachtown for a week...
every beach town has local bars, serving capuccino, and a little covered market with fresh fruit and vegetables and all the italian delicacies...
the problem is who do you want to meet. do you want to meet the Jones's from Albequerque, Kansas City and/or Philadelphia, the Meier's from Germany or Austria, the Dufour from Paris,... or the local people, the italians on holiday in a typical italian beach town?
baldrick is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 02:28 PM
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Tropea in Calabria is amazing. If you click on my name and pull up some of my reports there will be links to my pics. This is a town where you would most likely run into Italians from other parts of Italy. I doubt there would be many English speakers. I also think the surrounding areas are best explored with a rental car, so I am not sure if this would be the place for you.

Sardinia has amazing beaches, but the only walkable town that I was in is Alghero (in the vicinity of a beach). While the rest of the island has amazing beaches, the ones around here weren't too impressive. I think the public transportation network and organized daytrips are in abundance. I have a trip report for Sardinia as well. I really, really enjoyed wandering around this town on my own while my dad took his evening naps!
AP6380 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 02:57 PM
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Baldrick, I have been to Rome and Bologna, which I loved, and Florence and Milan, which I thought were so-so. I'd be willing to return to Rome or Florence (I figure if everyone else loves it so much, I should probably give it a second chance) but I would also love the opportunity to try out a new, somewhat smaller Italian city.

As for who I want to meet - well, I don't really care, but I am a bit nervous about the language barrier - I have a terrible time learning languages so can only plan on obtaining a rudimentary grasp of Italian. (My previous two trips were with fluent speakers.) But I certainly don't need to be surrounded by Americans, just want to get by. I would like the town, however, to have some semblance of a nightlife - I know some beach towns (such as Vernazza) seem to shut down by 9 pm. I'll just be starting dinner then!

AP, I starting researching Tropea today - it looks amazing! But I absolutely do not want to rent a car - I live in Manhattan, where I drive perhaps once a year, and the thought of trying to drive and navigate by myself on Italian roads terrifies me. I will take a look at your trip reports.

Thanks again!!!
KikiLee is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 03:11 PM
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Elba: In 10 years of visiting, I never met an American.
There is plenty of nightlife depending on which town you're in. My son and his friends used to go out around midnight and get in at breakfast time. There is everything in between.
Lots of markets for fresh food.
You don't need a car. I never had one.
The alternative to Florence is a bit of culture in Lucca before you go and stretch out on the beach.
Easy Peasy.
gertie3751 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 04:55 PM
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AP6380 is the Italian beach expert on Fodors. (I think she likes it when I call her that.) I've also heard from Italians that the best beaches are in Calabria or Sardinia.
cmt is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 09:02 PM
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Kikilee -

We're all victims of our experiences, of course, but I've found that in general the locals were friendlier and more likely to be concerned w/ a single woman's well-being in the North of Italy. I wouldn't want my sister travelling alone in Sicily, but think Elba would be wonderful. Don't stone me, folks--just my observations.
Saxon is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 06:30 AM
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Just to stir this up a little, I travelled alone through Sicily last year. The beach at Cefalu is indeed wonderful and another possibility. The 11th-12th century mosiacs in Palermo will supply your culture. I felt totally safe the whole time in Sicily, even walking around in Palermo at night. My only teeny weeny complaint was the I had a lot of rain....but that was just bad luck.
gertie3751 is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 06:58 AM
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Ah, so many choices! Must remember that this will not be my last trip to Italy, and I will have plenty of time to explore all of these amazing places.

Saxon, I appreciate your input. While I am not concerned about my physical safety (provided I take reasonable precautions), I am 5'8" and extremely blond, so don't exactly blend with the Italians. The Germans, on the other hand... It's not so much an issue of safety, just more an issue of unwanted attention, and how comfortable I feel on my first truly solo trip. (I have spent days on my own in Italy, but never attempted an entire trip by myself.)

At the same time, Tropea, Cefalu, and Elba all look AMAZING, so it's off to do more research. Many thanks!!!!
KikiLee is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:17 AM
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I agree with StCirqe, the beaches between Gaeta and Anzio are terrific. I own an apartment in the Serapo section of Gaeta, and use that beach (the Serapo) beach often. The water is absolutely clean and sparkling, as well as alloqwing a long walk out from shore, because of the gentle slope from the beach. A great bargain for a hotel is the Hotel Serapo, right at the beginning of the beach. It is a nice place, clean and lively. The rates are not too steep, except in August. Going north, you can go to Sperlonga, a great place, Terracina, Sabaudia and Anzio. You cannot go wrong there.
Waldo is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:28 AM
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What are your requirements of a beach ? Do you actually want a big expanse of sand, or will the small rocky beaches like you get on Capri (where I see you've been) suffice ?

"Taormina is a great town,but it is up on a hill and you have to go some distance to the beach."

Taormina was my first instinct - I've been three times and love it. There is a cable car between the beach area & the town so that's not a problem. The beach isn't huge but is bigger than those on Capri & the Amalfi Coast & has everything I'd want - chairs & umbrellas to rent, bars, small restaurants, beautiful scenery.

The one time I went to Cefalu I found it a bit depressing & left after 2 days.

caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:51 AM
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A second vote for Sperlonga - have a look at the Hotel Aurora, that has beach view rooms and includes use of a sunbed on their own piece of beach.

Further south, we loved the little seaside resort of Santa Maria di Castellabate, with views of the sun setting over Capri and the little village of Castellabate to explore on the hill above the resort.
Maria_H is offline  

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