Italian Island Holiday Escapes
A conservative estimate puts the number of official Italian islands at 700. True, the majority are little more than rocky outcrops, but that still leaves a glorious 30 inhabited Italian island idylls on which to spend your hard earned getaway time!
With 30 islands to tell you about from we’d better get started. So let’s begin on Elba, one of seven islands of the Tuscan archipelago perfect for an Italian island holiday. Famous for housing an exiled Napoleon (but he didn’t stay long). Smothered with deep green forests, framed by pink granite cliffs and edged with a gloriously indented coastline of splendid beaches, Elba remains a bellissima spot for the most willing of exiles. Had Napoleon known that just 100 days after he left Elba he would meet his Waterloo, he may well have lingered longer!
Now we come to the Pontine Islands, just pinpricks of land between Naples and Rome. A 75 minute hydrofoil from Rome glides to Ponza, framed by white cliffs and sea grottoes. It was once the hideaway of Roman emperors and is said to be the island of Homer’s enchantress, Circe and makes an enchanting island holiday destination.
More famously perhaps, in the Bay of Naples, Capri has lured countless icons of fashion, literature and celebrities seeking sun, sand and a life of island pleasure. Greeted by the rocky ‘siren’ islets (Faraglioni) they are a perennial siren call to hedonism and beauty.
Nearby, Ischia is Capri’s bigger sister, known as the ‘isle of eternal youth’. Even gods, goddesses and mythological heroes took a break in Ischia bathing in the hot bubbling springs prized for their therapeutic powers. As magical as a film set, (remember ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’), Ischia attracts plenty of celebrities enticed by their slice of ‘la dolce vita’. There are golden beaches, cool hills with fragrant pine and citrus groves, vineyards, dramatic volcanic landscapes, picturesque towns and fishing villages.
At the top of Italy’s ‘heel’, the sleepy Tremiti Islands are scattered off the coast of Puglia, surrounded by the limpid waters of the Adriatic. Here you will find amazing limestone rock formations and grottoes and spectacular beaches. The largest of the five islands, which form part of the Parco Nazionale di Gargano, is San Domino.
Sicily, cradle of civilization. Greeks, Romans, Normans, Arabs and Spaniards have all left their mark on her volcanic shores. If history is not your thing but nature or geology fascinate, then a trip to Europe’s largest active volcano, the very volatile Mount Etna, might appeal.
Off Sicily’s northeast coast, you can find the Aeolians, seven magnificent volcanic islands. Lipari is the largest with its picturesque eponymous waterfront Town. Little Panarea is well-heeled and chic. Whilst shabby-chic Stromboli thrills with nightly displays of red sparks and fountains of molten débris. Take your pick!
Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda
For ‘paparazzi HQ’, Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda has few peers. If escape is your intention, away from the glorious beaches traditional island life continues inland. Mysterious nuraghi (prehistoric stone dwellings) dot the landscape and the folkloric Sards know how to throw a party with feasting and fabulous festivals interwoven with stories of giants and faeries are all part of the magical charm of Sardinia.
Can’t wait to find that special Italian island holiday? Here’s a list of our Island holiday specialists, browse to your heart’s content!