Many beaches in Italy are privately owned and you have to pay to use them.
However, there are also many public beaches, which are free of charge. Some
beaches have sports facilities such as water ski-ing and dinghy sailing, others
may be a simple rocky cove. As a general guide the beaches from Marinella di
Sarzana southwards to Viareggio are sandy, those further north through the
Golfo della Spezia and on through the Cinque Terre, tend to be rocky.
Levanto and the Cinque Terre
Levanto is a small seaside resort with a wide curving beach with both public
and pay-to-use areas offering a variety of water sports. This is one of the
rare spots in Italy for surfing thanks to the long waves that ripple in the
gulf. There is also a public swimming-pool but only for Casino' Beach clients,
and a diving centre on the beach. Immediately to the south of Levanto are the
famous five fishing villages of the Cinque Terre which are (from the north)
Monterosso, Vernazza, Riomaggiore, Corniglia and Manarola. The northernmost
of the villages, (Monterosso) has the best long beach with both private and
The Golfo della Spezia
Just to the south of the Cinque Terre is the Portovenere which sits at the
western-most tip of the Golfo della Spezia. At the base of the peninsula on
which Portovenere sits are several rocky coves, one of which is known as "Byron's
Gr". The story has it that Byron swam across the gulf from here to visit
Shelley at San Terenzo.
Moving further around the coast we come to the lovely little seaside town
of Lerici which is where Shelley lived in the Villa Magni on the seafront.
Behind Lerici castle there is a small creek and further along (at Venere Azzurra)
is a public beach with optional rental of deck chairs and/or parasols. Water
sports are available peak season. Beyond Lerici is San Terenzo which has a
good sandy beach with optional rental of deck chairs and/or parasols.
A little further south still is Tellaro which has sparkling clear waters and
several coves and inlets ideal for bathing. Halfway along the road to nearby
Fiascherino large signs point to the path leading to a sand and shingle beach
surrounded by woodland. It was at Fiascherino that D.H. Lawrence lived for
a time and the road is named in his memory. Further along there are private
beach clubs and a free public beach beyond them.
Marinella di Sarzana southwards.
Along the Versilia coast, stretching from Marinella di Sarzana southwards
to Viareggio, there are many beaches, some private requiring a daily entrance
fee, and some are public. Prices on the private beaches along this stretch
of coast vary enormously. Forte dei Marmi is one of the more chic (and expensive)
resorts and is a mecca for celebrity spotters as several film stars and fashion
designers have houses here. Some of the beaches are equipped for sports including
water ski-ing, surfing and parascending.
Beware! Parking at the coast can be difficult so if taking
your car please ensure that it is left in an official parking spot. White car
space lines signify free parking, but sometimes only for residents so do check.
Blue lines indicate that a charge is made. The charge varies from resort to
resort and will either be staffed by traffic wardens or have a pay and display
system. Several free parking zones have time limits and require that you display
your arrival time on the front dashboard. Parking in any other areas could
mean the towing away of your car and a heavy fine! We suggest that you consider
taking the train or using one of the many local boat services.