The sea is one of the most celebrated resources Sicily has to offer, and its many magnificent beaches face out onto every coast. And not only. The islands too, from the Aeolian islands to Lampedusa, offer enchanting little bays and some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy. The premiss, therefore, is that to choose five of the most beautiful is extremely ungrateful and very subjective.
Situated to the south of Trinacria, on the tip after Siracusa, Calamosche is a beach that, like the one that follows, has been included in the list of the “10 most beautiful beaches in Italy” by the experts of the Italian environmental group, Legambiente. Scientists have monitored the coast of Italy to make a census of the best beaches using criteria with 128 parameters that include, apart from the clearness of the sea, the intact state of the natural landscape and the matters of rubbish, pollution, ecology and quality of the water. The majority of beaches they chose are in fact part of protected areas, often difficult to reach and characterised by their wild aspect more than their conveniences tourist facilities. The Calamosche beach, called “Funni Musca” in the local dialect, can be found between Noto, a delightful little town with a Baroque centre, and Vendicari, an oasis that since 1984 has been a Nature and Fauna Reserve and constitutes one of the wildest places in Sicily. It’s not easy to find. Six kilometres along the Pachino-Noto main road, you need to take a track that goes past an old railway line and then continue for about a kilometre and a half as far as the car park. Then continue on foot for a further kilometre as far as the sea, where you can find this enchanting stretch of white sand, at least 200 metres long and wide, that stretches between two rocky promontories characterised by numerous caves. On either side and all round there are sand dunes, Mediterranean vegetation and salty marshes frequented by migratory birds. The water is transparent and fresh with tones ranging from green to emerald to intense blue. It’s a breathtaking sight for all lovers of wild nature.
“Cala dello Zingaro”
Let’s move on to the point at the west of the island, in the province of Trapani. This beach has also been included in Legambiente’s Top Ten. It can be found along one of the last stretches of virgin coast in the Zingaro Reserve, one of the very few parts of Sicilian coast that hasn’t been contaminated by the presence of a coastal road. It runs along the western part of the Golf of Castellammare on the peninsula of San Vito Lo Capo that you can walk across in about two and a half hours amongst dwarf palm trees and amidst the perfumes of the rich Mediterranean vegetation. The intinerary includes five little bays: Cala Capreria, Cala Beretta, Cala Marinella and Tonnarella dell’Uzzo, but the most beautiful is the Cala della Disa, also called Cala dello Zingaro. Another itinerary for lovers of uncontaminated nature, you can get there after about an hour’s walk from the car park. The sand is white and extremely fine. The sea is punctuated by cliffs that give a range of all the various shades of colours to its seabeds. Paradise. And the effort involved getting there has more than paid off.
San Vito Lo Capo
If, on the other hand, you prefer less wild places nearer to civilisation yet without giving up the beauties of nature, you can stay in the area and go back along the north-western part of the San Vito Lo Capo promontory where you can find one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. White sand stretches out for about a kilometre and a half with a maximum width of 120 metres near the port. The atmosphere is similar to that of a tropical beach due to the clearness of the water, the fineness of the sand and the colour of the sea. The profile of Mount Monaco to the East breaks up the horizon. In spite of appearances, this is a town beach with all the commodities of tourism. Obviously you pay for these things in the form of the crowds that certainly help to diminish its natural charm in the height of summer. Nevertheless, if you like your comforts then this is the beach for you especially if you have children in tow, if you’re lazy or if sharing the beach with other holiday-makers isn’t a problem but rather a sociable aspect with its own charm.
“Spiaggia dei Conigli” (Lampedusa)
Sicily’s islands are also well renowned both for sea and sand, and so we’d like to make a few recommendations regarding these. Going from North to extreme South, one of the most beautiful places is surely that of the Pelagian Islands, with its tiny Linosa and the larger Lampedusa, that over recent years has been in the spotlight for reasons relating to refugees, something that shouldn’t let us forget the beauty of its beaches. On the southern side of Lampedusa there’s the not to be missed beach, the Spiaggia dei Conigli (literally: “rabbit beach”), that takes its name from the island with the same name that blocks off the view to the south. It’s amongst the most famous in the Mediterranean due to the fact that along this beach is where the Loggerhead sea turtles deposit their eggs, making it something unique. The beach is in a Natural Reserve, and precisely because of the turtles is always under surveillance and it’s forbidden to go there at night. In order to get there, take the road from the town towards Capo Ponente and, after about six kilometres park the car and then walk along a footpath that after a few hundred metres takes you on to a panoramic terracing above the beach. From there, you start to go down for another half a kilometre until you reach a beach characterised by wonderful white sand, inset between rocks that are almost deprived of vegetation and with marly terraces that contain the amazing Tabaccara Cave. The narrow bay, of about 150 metres, is always sheltered from the waves and currents and gives us one of the beautiful sea panoramas in our country. The water is clear and mirrors all the shades of turquoise. The sea is very shallow and in order to immerge yourself you need to go out at least 100 metres from the shore. A must visit.
Pollara beach (Salina)
The fifth stop we suggest, and not in order of importance or beauty, is the Pollara beach in the Aeolian Islands, more specifically on the Island of Salina in the province of Messina. The dilemma every bather faces is always the same: sand or rocks? Even if beaches are usually more popular, above all with those who have children or prefer to have nearby facilities, in matters of taste there can be no disputes, and the Pollara beach doesn’t offer the classic stretches of white sand, but at the most brief sections of stones and pebbles. This doesn’t diminish its beauty. Rather, it’s characterised precisely by the magic of its volcanic beauty and by the spectacular stratifications of lava flow. The bay really does offer an amazing light above all at early evening sunset, when the rocks light up in colours starting from gold and gradually becoming a fiery red. Sunsets are spectacular also for the shadows on the sea made by the islands of Alicude and Filicude. On clearer days you can sometimes see a green ray, the very particular legendary glow that for a moment shines as the last ray of sun before disappearing. To fully enjoy this show, one of the best points is a rocky spur on an overhanging rock 250 metres above sea level. It’s halfway along the road that links Pollara with Malfa, from which you can also see the island of Panarea and the unmistakable outline of Stromboli. You can get to the sea at the nearby little port of Malfa or if you go down a steep and tortuous footpath from Malfa. For those who prefer a taste of such places before leaving home, you should know that it’s famous above all as the setting for Michael Radford’s film, Il postino (The Postman, 1994). Watch it again from this perspective. You’ll probably plan a trip straight after.