Do you remember the default computer wallpaper of a fascinating bay with limestone faraglioni rocks rising out of the waters? Have you ever wondered where that fabulous picture was actually taken?
Let me tell you, that round little cove with a picturesque beach flanked by rugged, prickly pear-covered cliffs is in Scopello, a tiny coastal hamlet on the northwestern coast of Sicily, a sun-drenched, tricornered island all the way down off the tip of Italy’s boot. And yep, it’s actually one of the most photogenic locations in the whole of Europe.
Sicily’s coastline stretches for almost 1,000 miles, and covers a dozen satellite islands. This triangle of land in the middle of the Mediterranean is home to an astonishing number of magnificent beaches, lapped by some of the clearest water you’ll ever see. Not to mention a whopping 11 have been awarded the Blue Flag recognition, an international prize given every year to the locations that meet the highest standards in terms of water quality, safety, cleanliness, beach waste management, and services, such as first aid and lifeguards.
People who visit a beach flying a Blue Flag – Bandiera Blu in Italian – can be assured it will be clean, safe, and well-managed, and meet the highest environmental standards. After ten Sicilian beaches that hold the coveted Blue Flag certification, one more – Furci Siculo, on the northeastern coast of the island – has been recently awarded the title.
Let’s have a closer look at these stunning beaches.
Northeastern Sicily: Furci Siculo, Alì Terme, Roccalumera, Santa Teresa di Riva and Tusa
Blue flag beaches at Alì Terme, Roccalumera, and newly-awarded Furci Siculo are great places to enjoy a seaside break, conveniently located just a short drive from the harbour city of Messina in the north of Sicily’s Ionian coast, and the glamorous town of Taormina, with its beautifully preserved third century B.C. Greco-Roman amphitheatre.
Lungomare Santa Teresa di Riva, a short hop from Furci Siculo, was given the Blue Flag award for its exceptional standards in categories such as water quality, tourist safety, and the facilities it offers to visitors.
Another Blue Flag beach in the province of Messina is the jaw-droppingly beautiful Lampare beach in Castel di Tusa, not far from the picturesque town of Cefalù, about an hour’s drive east of Palermo. The Blue Flag is a guarantee to visitors that this amazing beach on the northern coast of the island is litter free and offers excellent facilities.
Lipari, Aeolian Islands
Inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2000, the Aeolian archipelago consists of seven pristine islands and a number of uninhabited islets located off Sicily’s northeast coast. Lipari, the largest of the mythological Aeolian Islands, has a spectacular Blue Flag beach lapped by the clear turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Southeast Sicily: Ragusa, Modica, Pozzallo and Ispica
Two of the UNESCO-listed Late Baroque towns of the beautiful Val di Noto on the southeastern coast of Sicily have Blue Flag beaches in their areas: Ragusa and Modica.
The Marina di Ragusa beach was awarded the prestigious Blue Flag recognition for its clear waters, and the cleanliness of its facilities. Excellent amenities, like refreshments kiosks, seafood restaurants, a volleyball court, and gelaterias serving the best ice cream on Earth, make this a very popular beach on Sicily’s southeast coast.
As all fans of BBC Four’s Sicilian crime series Inspector Montalbano well know, the glorious Baroque town of Modica is Nobel Prize-winning poet Salvatore Quasimodo’s birthplace, and has a gorgeous sandy beach at Marina di Modica, which received a Blue Flag for the first time last year.
Just a few miles west of Sicily’s southeasternmost point lies Pozzallo, a charming port town in the province of Ragusa, where remains of Roman, Byzantine, and Arab civilization reveal that the area has been inhabited since ancient times. The gorgeous Raganzino beach in Pozzallo has managed to retain its Blue Flag status, attesting to its cleanliness and ecological pedigree.
Then there’s Punta Ciriga beach in Ispica, a short drive east of Pozzallo, perfect for relaxing in the soft, golden sand, reading a book, and snorkelling in the iridescent aquamarine water of the Mediterranean Sea.
Southwestern Sicily: Menfi
Still largely off the tourist radar, the ancient town of Menfi, in the province of Agrigento, is one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Menfi’s rolling, verdant hills carpeted with silvery olive groves and beautiful rows of vineyards yielding some of Sicily’s best wines descend right down to the crystal-clear sapphire sea, where there’s a seemingly endless array of spectacular beaches, most of which are nearly deserted even in high summer. For many consecutive years, Menfi’s Lido Fiori Bertolino has been awarded the Bandiera Blu recognition.
As you can see, Sicily is a treasure waiting to be explored, and should definitely be at the very top of your bucket list for 2022.
Select Sicily, one of the island’s leading vacation-rental agencies, will make sure you find the best accommodation. Based in Palermo, it charts some of the most exquisite rental properties on the island, ranging from super chic hideaways and architect-designed beach villas, to exclusive apartments and amenity-laden baglios with private swimming pool.
Renting a villa with pool Sicily offers the sense of freedom and the reassurance of crowd-free privacy so many safety-conscious travellers are seeking.
In a post-Covid-19 world, opting for a self-contained vacation home with private pool and no shared facilities is definitely a safer choice in comparison to staying in a busy hotel, guesthouse, tourist resort, or B&B, simply because you can avoid any interaction with people outside the group of close family and friends you are travelling with.
For more information, please check out the company’s website www.selectsicilyvillas.com.
Words by Jessica Maggi