One of the advantages of visiting Rome, Florence, or Venice in August is that many of those cities’ residents are in ferie , leaving the centers much less crowded and frenetic. Of course, the primary reason residents choose this month to leave on vacation is to escape the summer heat, which can be relentless from morning until far into the evening.
Though the draw of these cities’ art and culture doesn’t wane during the hottest months of the year, you may find yourself wanting a quick break to cool off, slow down, and recharge your travel batteries. Luckily, all three are close enough to the seaside to pop out for a day at the beach if you find you need to abandon the cobblestone and marble floors for soft sand and cool water underfoot.
(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)
Here are suggestions for the best beaches for “daycations”from Rome, Florence, or Venice. These, like most Italian beaches, are well organized for daytrippers as the stabilimenti balneari, or beach establishments, almost always include a café (many serving food), bathrooms, shower and changing rooms, and beach chairs and umbrellas to rent by the day. Just bring a bathing suit and towel and enjoy your vacation…from your vacation!
Most Italian beaches are well organized for daytrippers, with chairs and umbrella for rent with all the trimmings. Click to tweet
Though the closest beach from Rome is Ostia Lido (where you can also visit the ruins of the Roman port city of Ostia Antica) at just over 30 minutes by train, a better daytrip option is Santa Marinella, about an hour by train from the center of Rome. This resort town’s beaches get crowded during the weekends, as daytrippers are drawn to the clean water, soft sand, and relaxed holiday atmosphere. During the week, it’s easier to rent sunbeds and umbrellas, though there is also a stretch of public beach where anyone can claim a towel-sized lot for the day.
Another draw of Santa Marinella is the number of excellent seafood restaurants along the shore.
(Photo by see.lauren via Flickr)
Of Italy’s three main tourist destination cities, Florence is the furthest from the sea. That said, there are still a number of beaches close enough to make for a daytrip. One of the most convenient to reach (about one and a half hours by train) from the city center is Viareggio, along the Tuscan coast. Though not a cultural destination, Viareggio is a bustling town in its own right and full of shops and restaurants catering to visitors. The biggest draw of this town is its long stretch of sandy beach and numerous stabilimenti balneari, so even on the busiest days it’s easy to rent beach chairs and an umbrella. A great destination for long walks on the sand and leisurely wades (the water is shallow until quite far out).
Viareggio is quite close to both Lucca and Pisa, so it can be combined with a day of sightseeing in either.
(Photo by Avital Pinnick via Flickr)
Of course, the easiest Italian city to escape for a day of sun and sand is Venice. The Venice Lido is just minutes from the center of Venice and along several vaporetto lines (get off at the Santa Maria Elisabetta stop), so a break here doesn’t require much preparation or planning. The Lido gets quite crowded in the summer, since it is so convenient, but the beach remains pretty and the water clear and gentle due to a number of breakwaters protecting the shoreline. Perhaps one of the most elegant (this is where the chic Venice Film Festival is held each year) and well-fitted out beaches, the stabilimenti here are furnished with everything from “huts”–large cabins with a veranda and an awning—to the more simple beach chairs and umbrellas.
Most of the beachfront is reserved for guests of the nearby hotels, so if you are not staying in one of these head instead to the public beach at the end of the Gran Viale.