The Great Italian Islands

Sicily, Sardinia and Elba: the great Italian islands

Generally, the most visited tourist destinations in the world are famous for their magnificent and historically important cities. Instead, the sea coast is somewhat neglected as something purely recreational, but this prejudice is completely unjustified. Indeed, Italy is home to some of the most beautiful islands of the entire globe. Therefore, we chose to take you to the three largest ones, three natural jewels that you certainly need to visit if you love the sun and the sea, but also history, architecture, culture and good entertainment.

Isola d’Elba

Crystal clear water all around the perimeter, an impressive granite massif in the west, majestic olive groves inland, and idyllic beaches in the east. Nature lovers, water sports enthusiasts and sunbathing addicted will find their paradise in Elba, the island with the shape of a whale. Those who are still thinking about where to spend their summer holidays, will find quiet places, small bays and hidden paths throughout its traditional, typical Mediterranean villages.

Moreover, Elba is a place that will satisfy all the senses. Under the hot sunlight, the dense pine forests give off strong scents mixed with those of the wild sage, the oleander and the orange blossoms. In the center of the island, a breathtaking Tuscan landscape is like a medication for the eyes, thanks to the vivid colors of the sea, of the cypresses and of the beautiful pine trees. The diverse Mediterranean cuisine is here enriched with medical herbs and mushrooms from the untamed local flora. Eastern Elba is also rich in minerals. Here, iron ores, including many precious stones, crystals and quartz, have been extracted for centuries. Glittering in all the colors of the rainbow, for the inhabitants these stones are still believed to bring happiness.

The beautiful center of the largest town, Portoferraio, is defended by a strong fortress. Visitors can stay in Villa Mulini, the building that crowns the highest point of the city, where Napoleon lived during his first exile.

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A view from Elba

Sicily

The largest island in the Mediterranean has it all: enchanting nature, magnificent cities, picturesque villages and a rich cultural heritage. At the crossroad between two seas, the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian, Sicily was occupied by many different civilizations (ancient Greeks and Romans, Saracens, French, Austrians, Spaniards), who left their traces during a three-millennium long-history. Ancient temples, amphitheaters and aqueducts, medieval cathedrals and palaces, luxurious modern villas, sophisticated paintings and literary masterpieces make its frame. The island is dominated by Europe’s largest active volcano, Etna (3,340 meters), with its four hundred extinguished and active craters.

Taormina

Taormina, located on the northeastern Ionian coast of Sicily, belongs to the province of Messina. The old Greek colony Tauromenion, founded on a steep cliff at the beginning of the 5th century BC, lies about two hundred meters above the sea level. The city can be easily reached through a highway from both Messina and Catania (city with an international airport), while its sea shores are connected to the center by a cable car. Two small beautiful stony beaches that are worth a visit are Mazzarò and Isola Bella. The latter is an island and, since 1998, it is also a natural reserve. With a boat, you can visit the famous cave or dive and enjoy the rich sea world.

The large Corso Umberto promenade and the combination of narrow cobbled streets with floral balconies, shops, restaurants, pastry shops and street musicians, make this city irresistible. The most important and beautiful monument, the Greek Theater, is the cherry on top. Here, you can attend stage performances, fashion shows, film festivals are several other events.

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The Greek theater in Taormina

Giardini Naxos

Giardini Naxos is a town on the eastern Ionian coast of Sicily, in the province of Messina, about sixty kilometers from Catania and about six kilometers away from Taormina. This small fishing village, together with the neighboring Taormina, gained importance in recent decades, becoming fast a well-known resort. During the summer months, the long stony beach becomes the place where, in the evening, local people, Italian and foreign tourists gather all together.

Walking along the coast, you can find a fish restaurant or a typical trattoria, where you can taste the regional culinary specialties together with a great red wine. The city is connected by a bus with both Taormina and Catania.

This part of the Sicilian coast is just incredible. Pleasant climate, nature, proximity to Etna and Taormina. The unique landscape give that extra zip that can make your holidays more interesting and enjoyable.

Ionian Sicily islands
Ionian Sicily

Sardinia

Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, and is situated about three hundred kilometers from mainland Italy. Sardinia gained its popularity during the last century, also due to the several important visitors such as Hollywood stars and guests from the high-politics world. Sardinia is the holiday island par excellence, thanks to its surprisingly vintange ambience, the inimitable traditions, but also for its preserved natural beauty and the beautiful beaches and lagoons that made Sardinia gain the name of ‘European Caribbean’.

Therefore, Sardinia is this year’s Mediterranean secret you need to discover. Besides the jet set resorts, this underexplored and non-commercialized territory is the place for a perfect holiday, as you will also be impressed by the amount of friendly hosts you can meet at every step. Indeed, the local people are the added value that complete the whole Sardinian experience, thanks to the well-known Italian charm mixed with their local character.

P.S. Don’t say it too loud: wherever you will stay, don’t forget to visit the Oristano Bay, and the beautiful sandy beach in Marina di Arborea (Spiaggia di Marina di Arborea).

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Alghero, Sardinia