Where are the most beautiful free beaches in Italy?

With nearly 8,000 km of coastline, Italian swimmers are spoiled for choice.

From the dramatic cliffs of the Amalfi Coast to the vast expanse of golden sands along the Adriatic Sea, the country has something for everyone. 3

But concerns are growing over how much of the coastline is taken up by private beach clubs, leaving little free access.

If you don’t feel like getting a sun lounger and umbrella every day of your vacation, here’s where to find the best free beaches in Italy.

Why are so many Italian beaches private?

More than half of Italy’s coastline is managed by private beach clubs or resorts. The State leases the beaches to these bagni, which set up long rows of sun loungers and umbrellas and provide services such as bars, restaurants, showers and bathrooms.

Renting a spot on the beach for a day can often cost up to €30 before any food or drink purchases.

In some regions of Italy, the percentage of private beaches is much higher. For example, in the Tuscan coastal town of Forte dei Marmi, 94% of the seafront is colonized by private clubs, while in Gatteo a Mare on the Adriatic Sea, 100% of the beaches are rented out to bagni.

In recent decades, the privatization of the Italian coastline has accelerated. Since 2018, private beach concessions have increased by 12.5%.

These private beach resorts normally claim the best spots on the Italian coast, with free beaches in far less desirable positions.

Legambiente, the Italian environmental association, recently conducted a study of the country’s beaches. “In many cities, the only non-privatized areas are near estuaries, ditches and sewers, which means you can go sunbathe but swimming is prohibited,” the report said.

Where are the best free beaches in Italy?

With so much of the Italian coastline at a price, it is not easy to find good quality free beaches. Puglia and Sardinia have regulations that require 60% of beaches to be free to access. But many other regions do not have a specific quota.

However, if you know where to look, you can find pristine sand, breathtaking cliffs and crystal clear water.

Punta Prosciutto, Apulia

Located in the municipality of Porto Cesareo at the southern tip of Puglia, this beach rivals those of the Caribbean. With fine sand and clear water, it is a postcard beach at zero cost.

Cala Sisine, Sardinia

Located on the coast of Baunei, this beach can be reached by a hiking path or by jumping on board one of the boats that transport bathers from the ports of Cala Gonone, Arbatax and S. Maria Navarrese. The effort to get there is worth it, as white sand and crystal clear water await you.

Calamosche, Sicily

This pretty beach is in the Vendicari wildlife sanctuary in eastern Sicily, between the popular tourist destinations of Noto and Marzamemi. It can be reached by following an easy footpath about a kilometer long.

Baia del Buon Dormire, Campania

This beach is considered one of the most spectacular on the Cilento coast. Accessible by footpath or from the sea, it is famous for its golden sand and turquoise waters. The small bay is protected by the steep cliffs of the southern slope of Capo Palinuro.

Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle, Marche

Its name means “beach of the two sisters” and comes from the two imposing rock formations that emerge from the sea. It is accessible by boat from the port of Numana.

Fetovaia, Tuscany

If you visit the picturesque island of Elba, be sure to spend a day on this beach of fine golden sand. It is sheltered by a wild promontory, the Punta Fetovaia, covered with Mediterranean maquis.

Christy J. Olson