Italy recently allowed Americans back for tourism. Your next trip to Italy should be spared of the overcrowded tourism cities of Rome, Florence and Venice. This summer why not get to a few islands surrounding the boot that will not be overcrowded with tourists. Everyone is aware of Sicily, Sardinia and Capri but there are also the secret island destinations of Italy that are waiting to be discovered this summer.
The Secret Islands of Italy
Vulcano is one of the seven Aeolian islands located in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The name comes from the Roman god of fire, Vulcan. The island has one of the four active volcanos in Italy, and the island itself has many volcanic calderas.
There is so much to do and see on Vulcano. The adventure travel types can climb its active volcano Gran Cratere. The island has many walking tours available to see sites such as Cape Grilo and Vulcanello. The island has a few spa and wellness sites that use the local volcanic mud as a therapeutic treatment. Relax on the black sand beach at Gelso and swim in the ‘acque calde’ ) the warm waters heated by hot steam.
Vulcano has many lovely fine dining restaurants for visitors to experience. La Bottega di Vulcano has great Italian, seafood and Mediterranean specialties served every day.
A one hour ferry ride from Trapani on Sicily will get you to Marettimo. This island is located on the Mediterranean Sea and the most remote of the Egadi Islands. The island is so isolated that it will look like it was frozen in time as it is primarily a rural community. There are a great many donkeys and horses on the island that the locals use every day for work and transportation. There are no hotels on the island, so most visitors tend to stay in rooms or apartments in town.
Due to the protected waters around Marettimo, it is an excellent place for snorkeling and diving. There are many sea caves and grottos here ready for exploration. The island is known for its wildlife including eagles and peregrine falcons. Explore the ruins and learn the history of Casa Romana while you hike the trails.
What Marettimo has going for it is a selection of fine eateries. The island is full of restaurants serving seafood, pizza, Mediterranean and regional Italian cuisine. La Cambusa is called ‘a little gem in Marettimo’ for its Southern Italian, vegetarian and Sicilian menu.
This secret island is a favorite of quite a few celebrities including Beyonce, Bill Gates and Uma Thurman. Visitors get to Panarea via a ferry or a hydrofoil from Naples, Milazzo, Palermo or Reggio Calabria. Panarea is a completely car free island so the only way to get around is walking or with a golf cart.
Visitors will love exploring the San Pietro District with its gardens and terraces, palm groves and olive trees. There are many beautiful isolated beached on the island, perfect for relaxing, snorkeling or swimming. The only way to access many of the best beaches on the island are by boat.
Panarea has top notch dining options. Besides Italian and seafood fare, you will also find great deli, sushi and bakeries on the island. Enjoy a fabulous pasta or seafood meal outdoors at Cusiritati. This fine establishment also has gluten free, vegetarian and vegan meal options.
Just a quick ferry ride from Palau, Sardinia will find you at La Maddalena. This island is the largest of the seven eponymous group of islands found off the coast of Sardinia. La Maddalena is best known as hosting the luxury yachts at Costa Smeralda.
There is plenty to do on this idyllic island. One highlight of La Maddalena is its national park. La Maddalena Archipelago National Park is unique because the park is a group of islands in the sea. Elsewhere on the island, scuba, snorkel and boat charter trips are available for half and full day tours.
La Maddalena has quite a few restaurants serving local specialties. Enjoy a vintage at the wine bar at Vineria Nini before you begin your fine Italian meal. On La Maddalena, guest can also dine on a scrumptious steak, various seafood or Mediterranean fare for their evening meal.
Ponza is a popular spot for Romans but is virtually unknown to international travelers. This is the largest of the Pontine islands and is located between Rome and Naples on the Tyrrhenian Sea. You can get to Ponza via ferry from Anzio, which is located 25 miles north of Rome.
Ponza has a multitude of activities available for visitors. There are a handful of bars and clubs in town to drink and celebrate. You can hike along the many trails on the island. If you walk on the former mule track you will end up at the highest point, the abandoned Naval building at Monte Guardia. You can also rent a wooden gazzo for a day and go from cove to cove.
There are a number of restaurants on Ponza that serves great Italian and Mediterranean food. For a wonderful romantic dinner head to Ristorante Dieci Maggio for their excellent Mediterranean cuisine.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories