There are a few things that make you realise just how unfair life can be. Things like opening the cupboard to make an epic sandwich only to discover a depleted loaf sack that contains just the two ends, or dropping your fork handle into a puddle of gravy, getting the only seat on the plane that doesn’t have a window, or finding out your ring-binder doesn’t close all the way.
But in terms of sweet-ass holiday destinations - some places get all the luck. Yeah, we’re looking at you Italy, with your perfected-for-skiing-snow-capped mountains, rolling hills covered in coveted vineyards and cypress-tree-embellished valleys. But that’s not all. Oh no. Because on top of that splendour, Italy’s also managed to pull Mother Nature aside and wangle more than 5,000 miles of epic coastline; a coastline that’s specked with postcard-perfect coastal villages, panoramas of breath-snatching ocean views, and warm waters from which you can lose yourself in the rows of coloured houses that blanket the dramatic cliff-faces; not to mention the plethora of secret caves, secluded coves and stretches of glittering golden sand. The point is: Italy has all of this to play with and we’ve got Skegness. It’s just not fair.
But it’s not all bad news because it only takes a splash of ad-libbing and the balls to book a cheap flight, and you can be adding all of this beauty to your Insta-stories in less than 2½ hours. And to help you out, we’ve pulled together a list of luxury AF coastal spots that will inspire you to uphold the privilege of spontaneity.
So, from the top of the shin to the toe of the boot, via a few island hotspots along the way, here are the very best moments the Italian coastline has to offer:
Cala Granara, Sardinia
If you’re anything like us, you’ve definitely experienced a moment where you’re sat at your desk, the air-conditioning unit humming away as you close your eyes and imagine you’re on some paradisiacal beach. This is that beach. It’s like Bora Bora but better because it’s closer, and yet it still boasts all the ingredients of paradise - soft white sands, shallows of azure water, curved palms bending upward, vistas of tropical bush dancing between the sun-scorched rocks and the Maddalena archipelago to explore through your cocktail-tinted eyes. Oh, and if you ask around, you might be able to find someone selling Casu Marzu. You can then stay away from this person and his cheese.
Stay in luxury at: Casa Cala Granu
Usually when a place has garnered a reputation, it’s something to be wary of. But not the cliff-side fishing villages of Liguria, Manarola, which has a reputation for being the most colourful town on the planet - and it’s impossible to disagree. The way each vibrant building tussles with the next on the rugged rock-face overlooking the lapis lazuli waters is like staring an artist’s palette. But the closer you get, the clearer the imperfections become, and that’s it’s real charm. The cracked facades of old buildings, the peeling paint on either side of the tunneling back streets, the cobbled floors, uneven brickwork and leaning buildings - not to mention the the Church of San Lorenzo, which is as romantic as any amount of brick and mortar can ever hope to be. It’s super-wow.
Stay in luxury at: Villa Delfino
Acro Magno, Calabria
If your idea of sun-soaked heaven involves endless stretches of hot-white-sand stretching far enough for it to be classified endless, we have a dollop of dreary news for you because Acro Magno is not that place. Instead of powder-soft-sands, it boasts a pebble beach where every rounded stone celebrates a slightly different shade of grey. And yet it still gets our vote because it’s one of Italy’s best kept secrets and one of the Mediterranean’s most surreal coves: a shell-shaped lagoon where emerald-green waters gently lap against the secluded rock faces and all-natural stone arch. No, you won’t find it comfy to lay back and sunbathe, but you will have an million chances to break Instagram.
Stay in luxury at: The Ionian Private Beach Villa
Positano, Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is a dart board full of one-hundred-and-eighties. It’s an absolute winner. It’s a place with unparalleled wow-factor, where every moment leaves your jaw dropped another inch or two and the rustic charm leaves you feeling like a glamour-hungry film star. But the pinnacle of this photogenic region is Positano. Everything about this spot is drama. The serpentine coast road that weaves along the slim mountain edge, the elixir of salt, sand and wind whipping through your hair as you grip the wheel and stare out to sea. The sight of sun-weathered sculling boats being pulled ashore and emptied of fresh fish beneath the vibrant town, which looks like a slightly collapsed wedding cake; uneven from top to bottom, where it spills onto the shore. This is la dolce vita served to you on a gold platter, with a chilled shot of limoncello for old times sake.
Stay in luxury at: Villa dei D’Armiento
Everything about this spot makes it feel like a Ernest Hemingway novel. It’s a place where the mountains meet the Med, while its name seems to dance with mythology, the people here long believing it was sirens and temptresses that originally gave their name to this most seductive of towns. Spin on your heels and every snippet will make your heart visibly thud through your linen shirt. The orange and lemon groves that alternate with ancient vineyards. The luxury villas dotted here, there and everywhere on the almost vertiginous mountainsides, the substantial specks of peaches, pinks and primroses all claiming to have the most breathtaking views across the Bay of Naples and right the way to Mount Vesuvius, where sunsets have never been more awe-inspiring. Trust us: Sorrento really does have one of the most extraordinary landscapes. It has the Amalfi Coast to the North, rolling hillsides to the east, and the island of Capri just a short speedboat ride away. Not to mention some of the best pizzas and falanghina in all of Italy.
Stay in luxury at: Villa Jewel
Nestled between the French border, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany is the Riviera di Levante; the ultimate playground for anyone with a happy-days bank account, a closet of high-end loafers and a penchant for women in super-sized sunglasses. And Portofino is its crown jewel. A hotspot for the well-heeled that a looking for a summer escape loaded with luxury. Dotted along its distinctive half-moon harbour are pastel coloured buildings adorned with Belle Epoque details, while the horizon of shimmering water is specked with mind-blowing super-yachts, each one reserved for the one-percenters. It’s the epitome of upmarket. Quaint, cutesy, stylish and special, and there’s no better place to soak it all in then Castello Brown; a 15th-century castle that salutes the world from the highest hillside in Portofino.
Stay in luxury at: Villa Bea
Polignano A Mare, Puglia
Sat on the southern tip of Italy is the Italian town of Polignano a Mare, a quirky mishmash of architectural antiques that celebrate its far-from quintessential history - Baroque churches tussle with Romanesque cathedrals, while the whitewashed buildings and traditional conical trullis make up the rest of this coastal spot. But none of that matters when you arrive and find yourself perfectly placed on the streaked limestone cliffs, the azure seas ebbing and flowing beneath you as you sip on a chilled Moretti, the sun dancing along your forearms and exposed chest. Yeah. This place is Italian right down to its boots; a maze of unique houses, narrow alleyways, and panoramic terraces that look out across the Adriatic. But the best bit of all is the food. From fresh fish to juicy melons, from-the-tree figs to local olive oils, Puglia wines to the world’s best pasta - this is the place to go for an indulgent weekend.
Stay in luxury at: Borgo Egnazia Villa Bella
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
Riomaggiore is postcard perfection. A place you imagine pulling up to in a wooden-hulled speedboat wearing a white button-down shirt, pastel blue shorts and box-fresh loafers, tying yourself to the tiny harbour and saluting the serene blue waters of the Gulf of Genoa as you make your way up the steep ravine, past the paint-peeling pastel buildings and into the first restaurant that has a view of earth’s most romantic sunset. That’s what this place feels like. It feels like a moment of luxury that is yet to be discovered. A place that demands a certain swagger from you and your significant lover, before you indulge in everything this village is famed for - from its Sciacchetra sweet wine to the Via Dell’Amore or, as it’s better known, the Lovers’ Path.
Stay in luxury at: Villa Chianti Fornace
And there we have it.
Eight of the most luxurious coastal spots Italy has to offer, where rustic meets romance, history meets heaven, and the sun shimmers across the sea like a million scattered stars, all of which make for a truly perfetto getaway. So, what are you waiting for?
Thanks for reading. For more ideas on how to embrace the endless summer, chase the horizon and keep your skin sun-kissed all year round, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and sign-up for a naughty-little newsletter below! (you’ll get a cheeky 10% off if you do).