Let’s be clear from the beginning… When we talk about picturesque seaside towns, Italy means a lot more than these 10 cities below. As a matter of fact, there are five of them only in the Cinque Terre area, and about the same on the Amalfi Coast.
And we could have made a list of 20 towns, or 30, or more, because Italy offers that possibility, and limiting the list to only 10 locations, we are aware that we have lost along the way many incredible places, but this is what we have intended from the start – a short list of the most beautiful coastal towns in Italy.
You will be probably surprised to find that this list does not include famous towns like Tropea (Calabria), Vernazza (Liguria), Taormina (Sicily), and if you have a problem with this one, we will surely hear it in the comments below.
Amalfi is a town in the province of Salerno, in the Campania region, and part of the Amalfi Coast, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. The town lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto, surrounded by dramatic cliffs.
Between 839 and 1200, Amalfi was the capital of the maritime republic of Amalfi, an important trading power in the Mediterranean, rivaling Pisa and Genoa, not long before the rise of the Republic of Venice.
In Amalfi, you can visit the beautiful Cathedral of Sant’Andrea, built in the 9th century, the Cloister of Paradise (Chiostro del Paradiso), a burial ground for noble families of Amalfi built in the 13th century, you can relax in one of the small squares of the city or you can enjoy the sun on one of its beaches.
Riomaggiore is a town in the province of La Spezia, in the Italian region of Liguria, and the southernmost location of the Cinque Terre, an area listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is located in the Rio Maggiore valley, at the foot of Mount Verugola.
In Riomaggiore, you can visit the Church of San Giovanni Battista and the Castle of Riomaggiore, but most likely you will spend the time walking along the small streets of the town or relaxing in the picturesque marina.
Scilla is a town of almost 5000 inhabitants in the Province of Reggio Calabria, in the Calabria region. Traditionally, the town is the site of the mythological sea monster Scylla, who was met by Odysseus in his travels.
Scilla is mainly known for its coastal district of Chianalea, a charming and picturesque place with narrow streets and old buildings, for its magnificent Ruffo Castle, an ancient fortification built on the promontory of Scilla, for its churches and for its beautiful beach known as the Spiaggia delle Sirene.
7. POLIGNANO A MARE
Polignano a Mare is a town of about 20,000 inhabitants, part of the Metropolitan City of Bari and the Italian region of Apulia. Its territory is characterized by a high jagged coast with numerous bays and grottoes.
The most important tourist attraction of the town and probably the most photographed spot on the Apulian coast is the beautiful beach of Lama Monachile, enclosed between two rocky walls. Although small, the historical center of the town is also beautiful and you will surely enjoy walking on its narrow streets.
Portovenere is a town of about 3,500 inhabitants included in the province of La Spezia, part of the Italian region Liguria, a few kilometers away from the beautiful coastal area of the Cinque Terre.
In Portovenere, you can visit the primitive Gothic Church of San Pietro, the Doria Castle, along with the walls surrounding the historical center of the city, the Romanesque Church of San Lorenzo and the Byron’s Grotto, where the poet Lord Byron used to meditate.
Camogli is a town of over 5,000 inhabitants, part of the Metropolitan City of Genoa, in the Italian region of Liguria. The town is located on the west of the peninsula of Portofino, overlooking the Golfo Paradiso.
Camogli is a typical seaside village known for its marina and for the colorful buildings along the seafront. In Camogli, you can visit the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, the Dragonara Castle, the beautiful port of the town, or you can simply relax on the beach.
Cefalù is a town of about 14,000 inhabitants, part of the Metropolitan City of Palermo, located on the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily, at the foot of a magnificent rock called La Rocca. Despite its small size, it attracts every year millions of tourists from all over the world.
The city is a seaside resort and a tourist destination, known for its beautiful long beach, for its quiet historical center and for its wonderful Norman cathedral.
Positano is a small town of about 3,900 inhabitants in the province of Salerno, in the Italian region of Campania, part of the wonderful Amalfi Coast. Due to its beautiful landscape, on a hill leading down to the sea, Positano has been a holiday resort since the time of the Roman Empire.
In Positano, you can visit the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, which features a dome made of majolica tiles and a 13th-century Byzantine icon of a black Madonna, or you can relax on the Marina Grande beach, located at the base of the cliff on which the town is spread. Other popular beaches in the area are the Fornillo beach and Arienzo beach.
Portofino is a small town of almost 500 inhabitants, part of the Metropolitan City of Genoa, in the Liguria region. The municipality is located in the western part of the Gulf of Tigullio, in a bay at the foot of the homonymous promontory. Portofino is included in the Regional Natural Park of Portofino and the Marine Protected Natural Area of Portofino.
In Portofino, you can relax in the small picturesque marina, you can visit the Church of San Martino, climb to the one dedicated to San Giorgio and further, to the Castello Brown, or you can simply walk through the beautiful forest which covers the area.
In our opinion, the most beautiful town in this list is Manarola, one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre. Although small and without notable tourist attractions, we strongly believe that Manarola is the most picturesque seaside town in Italy.
The town is actually a part of the Municipality of Riomaggiore, located in the province of La Spezia, in the Italian region of Liguria. Much like the other towns in the Cinque Terre area, it lies in a valley formed by an ancient river, at the foot of a steep mountain range that detaches from the Apennines.
The colorful houses overlooking the small marina complete a wonderful painting, making from Manarola the perfect coastal town in Italy.