I have Italy on the brain. My newest travel book, The Everything Guide to Italy, just came out. Every promotional interview I do leaves me thinking about all the great regions that Italy offers for cruising, and how I can’t wait to go back by way of boat in just a few weeks. The crowds are about to vanish as the tourist season ends, the waters have had all summer to warm up, and no fewer than five primo cruising locales await. Magnifico!
The region I know best is the Northwest, from Genoa to the Cinque Terre. It includes the town of Portofino, whose harbor is as picturesque as any I have seen during my extensive travels. (And I include the Greek Isles in that statement!) Stout fishing boats look like children’s toys against the majesty of Italy’s northwestern coastal mountains, the hiking trails are seemingly endless, and the region is just close enough to Tuscany that you can always find fantastic red wines at house bottle prices. This is coastal boating nirvana.
There is also much to be said for the Amalfi Coast, which is farther to the south just beyond Naples on Italy’s western shore. The island of Capri is near here, with its famous Blue Grotto sea cave, and towns such as Salerno and Positano scale the mountainsides like colorful staircases begging to be explored from the harbors. When you see postcards from Italy, these are the places where the photographs typically originate. They are quite simply that stunning.
The large islands to Italy’s west are cruising locales unto themselves. I’ve seen two-week charter itineraries advertised for Sicily alone—arguably just enough time to sample all the local versions of chicken and veal Marsala, plus tour all the ancient ruins left by the Greeks, Arabs, Phoenicians, Romans, and other civilizations that have called Sicily home.
Sardinia, to Sicily’s north, is another island that can be a cruising destination unto itself, though if you get the chance, it’s worth including the nearby French island of Corsica in your waypoints as well. Both are known for their beautiful beaches, high-end hotels, and fabulous restaurants.
Last but not least is Venice, about as far away from Sicily and Sardinia as you can get in Italy, on the country’s northeastern coast. Ironically, the city of canals has not historically been a magnet for cruising boaters, but its proximity to the Croatian islands just across the Adriatic Sea are giving it new life. That, plus the inexpensive moorings at the Venice Film Festival each fall, make this part of Italy well worth visiting by boat.
Editor's Note: For more information about chartering a boat in Italy, visit the Yachtworldcharters.com Italy Destination page.