Italy offers yacht charter at many locations along its lengthy coast. The best time of year for yacht chartering in Italy is from April to October.
Italy separates the eastern Mediterranean from the Adriatic, and this boot-shaped country boasts so much coastline it's hard to choose a favorite region. Portofino in the north is home to a glamorous crowd with its tiny cobble-stone streets and hills of ancient olive groves. The portside cafes are a great place to sit and watch the yachting world go by.
Farther south, the five villages of 'Cinque Terra' offer a less expensive but equally beautiful view of the sea. A famous walk links the towns along a coastal route.
The Amalfi Coast and island of Capri offer spectacular steep coastlines. Most southern Italian charters begin in Naples, about a day's sail from the Amalfi region.
South of Naples, the Amalfi coastline is a place of rare and incredible Italian beauty. It is, however, isolated from the mainland by mountains, making it one of the most famous yet hard-to-reach seaside destinations in Italy. Approaching from the sea has to be the most sensible, and awe-inspiring, option. The coast is a veritable treasure chest with a brimful of history and traditions: from the incredible archaeological site of Pompeii to the fascinating island of Capri. It is also an area is dominated by volcanic activity with craters still rumbling deep below the surface of the earth; after all, it was the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius which destroyed and buried the ancient city of Pompeii nearly 2000 years ago. The coastline around the steep southern slopes of the Lattari mountains between Positano and Vietri sul Mare are characterised by rocky spurs, overhanging bulwarks and ravines that make this section of the peninsula practically inaccessible and have forced the inhabitants to make their living from the sea.
Positano has a typical Moorish style with white houses solidly anchored in tiers to the rock face and the sinuous roads full of shops that seem to cling to the mountain. The structure of the town is very original; the small houses, all huddling on top of each other, so characteristic of Positano, form the subject of endless photos. The vibrant colours, the white of the buildings, form a perfect canvas for the bright flowers which decorate the houses, and the small artisans’ shops with their multihued cloths, present the visitor with a vista which is almost difficult to believe. Then there is the smell of the leather used for making sandals, and the restaurants specialising in fish dishes, and the bustle of everyday life …
Just off the coast at Positano are three little islands, which together form Li Galli, Gallo Lungo, Castelluccio and La Rotonda; the legend suggests “in the beginning there were the Mermaids, who tried to cast a spell over the insensitive Ulysses with their song, only to be turned to stone for their humiliating disappointment – the three crags of the Sirenusae”. The islands were owned by the famous Russian choreographer, Leonide Massine for forty years, then acquired in 1988 by the ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, and now they are home to an eclectic artistic community.
This coastline is scattered with small clusters of islands which are steeped in volcanic history and activity. North West of Capri there is a wonderful archipelago presenting a perfect cruising area. The Pontine Islands, rich in riolitic lava, tufaceous rocks from their volcanic origin, are made up of Ponza, Palmarola, Zannone, Ventotene, Santo Stefano, and the small island of Gavi and the solitary rock of la Botte. They are an extraordinary group of islands in the Tyrrhenian sea because of the variety of their coastlines, the colours of the rocks, the attractive villages and the small ports in pure Mediterranean style. Their spectacular and bright colours give the islands a particular charm and a coastline perfect to explore by boat with a wide variety of small coves, bays or inlets to explore.
Closer to the mainland are the Phlegraean Islands. This group was created by powerful underwater volcanoes and include Ischia, Procida and the uninhabited Vivara. In the eighth century BC they were colonised by Greek sailors who established the flourishing markets that still exist today. The history of these islands is very old, but also closely linked to the geologic youth that has created the lively and fascinating sea scenery of all the islands and lschia’s renowned baths. The many hot springs gushing out at high, medium and even cold temperatures are rich in minerals and have helped people for centuries in curing illnesses. Ischia us now an exclusive resort with many private facilities for thermal therapy, mud baths and beauty treatments. Despite their ancient history, the islands have not preserved many important medieval or archaeological traces due to the ongoing earthquakes and eruptions, but they are rich in vegetation and outstanding geographical interest and beauty.
The coastline appears particularly wild and solitary and as such is the perfect cruising ground for a summer yacht charter.
Sicily is part of another island group, the Aeolian Islands – more commonly known as the Lipari Islands. They have a very strong volcanic influence, with Stromboli erupting around every hour. This archipelago comprises some seventeen islands, only seven of which are inhabited. It is possible to clamber up the volcanic sulphur rock slopes on the island of Vulcano and visit the still active Cran Cratere. If cruising past Stromboli at night you can experience the impressive sights of the red-hot lava glowing and throwing red hot debris high up above the crater, at first glance reminiscent of a firework display.
The island of Sardinia has a language all its own that is not understood by mainland Italians. Stunning coastlines, excellent fishing, beautiful beaches and rugged mountains combine to make this a very special place.
The charter season runs from April to the end of October. The shoulder seasons (April-May and September-October), offer comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds. All types of boats are available for charter, including superyachts.
The Liparian archipelago is shaped like a “T”. To the west are the islands of Alicudi and Filicudi. In the centre there are three islands on a north/south line: Salina, Lipari and Vulcano. To the east are Panarea and Stromboli.
We chartered a Bavaria 40 from Helm Yachting, the Sicilian subsidiary of the charter company, Kiriacoulis, to visit five of the seven islands. Helm Yachting is based in Sant’Agata is on the north coast of Sicily, 170 kilometres east of Palermo and 25 nautical miles south-southeast of Vulcano Island. Because the charter week generally starts on Saturday afternoon at 5 pm, it is safer to spend the first night at the S’Agata marina because an evening start would mean a midnight arrival on Vulcano. There is a very good and friendly fish restaurant on the S’Agata beach called Trattoria Za Pippina.
After a swim we arrived in the early evening and took a mooring in the Vulcano Levante bay, which cost 35€. The island’s name comes from the volcano which covers half of the island. White smoke permanently escapes from the crater, which is quite easy to climb. On the beach of Levante Bay you can have a bath in bubbling seawater as gas from the volcano escapes through the stones. There is an excellent restaurant in the main street, “Il Cratere”, with a nice terrace overlooking the sea.
The straits between Vulcano and Lipari have two big rocks near the Lipari shore.
We reached the Salina marina in late afternoon. It is very safe and well-organized but expensive, 95€ for the boat and 10€ for power and water. The village has not yet been invaded by too many tourist shops. The view from the top of the village is fantastic, looking east toward the Islands of Stromboli and Panarea. It’s on this island where the most important shots of the movie “Il Postino” were taken.
Stromboli is an active volcano with the nickname “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.” For millennia it has shown the entrance of Messina Strait to boats coming from north; Ulysses certainly used it as a navigation mark. It is permanently active and every hour and a half or so a small eruption occurs. At night you can see from afar the red glimmers of the lava in the crater illuminating the dark sky.
After rounding the eastern point of the island you will find the village and a good mooring spot. The beach consists of very fine black sand; all the island soil is black. Even the famous “risotto de sepia” you will find in the restaurants of the village is black! If you are in good physical shape you can climb the up volcano to the crater (900m).
At lunchtime we moored behind Milanese point in a beautiful bay and near the remains of a Stone Age village, and then went on to Panarea village in the afternoon. Panarea is the most sophisticated village of the archipelago. Have a drink at the splendid terrace of the Raia restaurant overlooking the harbour. If the weather is calm, try to avoid this mooring at night; cargo ship and fresh water tankers came alongside the pier during the night and make a horrible noise.
We made a midday stop at Canetto beach on the east coast. The sand is super white and the sea was at 29.7° centigrade. The island has one of the biggest pumice stone quarries in Europe; you can catch some of the pumice stones that float around and bring them back for your bathroom.
We stayed the night at Pignato marina (50€ for the night including water and power) situated at the north end of Lipari Bay. It’s far enough from the ferry pier to be a very good and quiet night. Lipari town is the capital city of the archipelago. The main street remains the same as it was thirty years ago. In the middle is a bar that covers both side of the pavement and is a great place for a drink and to watch the local life.
During the 6 days we covered 116 nautical miles and used about 70 litres of fuel.
Editor's Note: This itinerary was submitted by Michel Villeneau. Photos courtesy Phillipe Comu.
Day 1: Arrive in Naples, visit Pompeii
The archaeological city of Pompeii is a must see. Once you have landed in Naples, and before you board, visit the city buried by Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, which has now been excavated and preserved.
Day 1/2: Naples, Ischia
Set sail from Naples for an immediate anchorage off Ischia’s North Coast. Ischia is surrounded by some of the clearest waters of the Aeolian sea: perfect for swimming and water toys. The island is dominated by the picturesque Castello Aragonese, a beautiful castle to explore, and you must visit the springs!
Day 3: Sorrento
Famous for Limincello, Sorrento is a beautiful town, to the south of Mount Vesuvius in the bay of Naples. The town has amazing views over the Gulf of Naples being made up of high cliffs and luxury hotels.
Day 4/5: Capri (Isola Faraglioni)
Anchor off Capri’s Isola Faraglioni in the daytime and head into port late in the afternoon. The town of Capri is well known for its simplistic beauty and glamorous guests and boutiques. From the port, take the funicular railway up to visit the small Piazzetta Square for drinks and people-watching, then walk around the town admiring breathtaking scenery. The Grotta Azzurra, the Blue Grotto, is a beautiful blue-lit cave.
Anchor off Marina del Cantone just on the southern tip of the mainland and visit one of our favourite restaurants – the Quattro Passi – exceptional!
Day 6/7: Positano, Amalfi
Positano has always been a favourite with great artists. This stunning, car-free town has steep cobbled streets where artists thrive and tourists flock. Visit the caves of La Porta in the day and spend the night ashore to visit the Hotel San Pietro, a stunning hotel with magnificent views of the sea. Spend the evening relaxing and dining on the terrace.
Amalfi is a short cruise along the coast – a picture postcard stop. Famous for its culture and Oriental style architecture it is an ideal gateway to reach the ancient town of Ravello, high up in the hillside.
Day 8: Panarea, Lipari
The small island of Panarea is known as a jet-set island, and is perhaps the most picturesque, with its stark white houses, brilliant yellow ginestra and panoramic views; it boasts three small but famous hotels and the summer homes of many wealthy Italians including fashion designers. In the afternoon head for Lipari, the main island which generally offers the widest selection of restaurants, shops and things to do. Lipari is a lovely old town dominated by the fortress of the Castello. Hike up the extinct volcano, or enjoy the island’s white beaches and pale blue waters. The main beach at Canneto is of white pumice stone and is reached by local bus from the town.
Day 8/9: Set sail for the beautiful and tranquil Sicily, visiting Isola di Vulcano on the way. It features a beautiful volcano that is great for exploration. You can anchor at the Taormina port for a swim stop before heading to Catania. Disembark, or continue onwards to explore another stunning Italian island.
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