Looking for the most beautiful and cleanest sea in Italy? Look no further than Cinque Vele 2022. This guidebook, written by Touring and Legambiente, outlines the best seaside destinations in Italy, combining stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, with attention to the environment and amenities.

Legambiente – an Italian non-profit environmental organization founded in 1980 – has scoured the entire peninsula and its islands and a hundred or so districts were analysed. About 40 have been awarded, from the Riviera delle Palme in Le Marche region to Salento area in Puglia, from the Tuscan Archipelago to the Cilento Coast in Campania. The association assigned ‘sails’ to each tourist area: from 1 (minimum score) to 5 (maximum score). Sails are symbols that testify not only the level of purity of the water but in general the environmental quality, the presence of amenities and energy consumption – among the topics analysed, also accessibility of places, level of accommodation and mobility services, efficiency of waste management, care of the area’s historical and artistic heritage and sustainability initiatives. 

The Italian areas with the top score

Liguria – Let’s begin from Northern Italy with the wonderful Cinque Terre area in Liguria. 

There, together with the beautiful landscape and the quality of the water, you can enjoy picturesque hamlets where traditional cuisine and genuine hospitality still thrive.

Tuscany – Have you ever thought that Tuscany is also synonym for beautiful beaches?

Starting from the Southern part of the region, we find Costa d’Argento and Giglio Island offering both sandy beaches like in Capalbio and rocky cliffs like in Monte Argentario. 

Continuing to the North there is the Maremma area, where your day at the beach can be combined with a visit to the lovely hamlets nearby.

And then another island, Capraia. It is located between Tuscany and Corsica and it is rich in uncontaminated nature and hidden bays, waiting to be discovered.

Porto Ercole - Tuscany

Apulia – Let’s go to Apulia, the only region on the Eastern coast of the peninsula that have been awarded.

Its Tremiti Islands are located in the Adriatic Sea, about 12 miles off the Gargano area in northern Apulia.

They are five small islands but there is plenty to choose from: low and sandy coastlines, high and rocky cliffs overhanging the sea, bays and promontories. For the lovers of wild and unspoilt nature, 3 of the 5 islands are uninhabited. 

Lecce province offer the other 2 areas included in the Cinque Vele. They are Melendugno and Otranto on the Adriatic sea and Gallipoli and Porto Cesareo on the Ionian sea.

Campania – On the other side of the ‘boot’ we have Cilento area lying South of the Amalfi Coast in the Salerno province of Southern Campania. It is still undiscovered by mass tourism.

The coast is rich in sandy stretches dotted with charming fishing villages like Acciaroli and Castellabate. Palinuro is a labyrinth of sea caves, with white coves and beautiful beaches.

Basilicata Maratea is a real off-the-beaten-path destination. 

It is considered the Pearl of the Thyrrenian sea and boasts 30 km of wonderful beaches with caves, cliffs and hidden bays.

Sicily – About 70 Km from Africa and 85 km from Sicily, Pantelleria is a volcanic rural island where you find crystal water and smooth black rocks, ideal to relax and sunbathe. 

There are many thermal baths too and after a relaxing day you can enjoy a wine tasting in one of its many cantinas.


Sardinia – Wherever you go in Sardinia, you end up on a wonderful beach. In fact it’s the region boasting the greatest number of areas with Cinque Vele. 

On the Eastern side we have Posada, Siniscola and Baunei where you can enjoy white beaches and crystal clear waters, but also spectacular cliffs overlooking the sea such as Cala Goloritzè. On the other side Bosa and Cabras offer impressive nature and historic hamlets.

On top of all we have the fashionable area of the Emerald coast, a top destination for celebrities, with Santa Teresa Gallura, Palau and Arzachena. Here, as each day turns to night, there’s  always a party or a disco to go to. 

Disco is not your thing? Then you should head to Chia, on the bottom of the region, where low seabeds are perfect for families with kids, while the excellent wind conditions are loved by the surfers. 

Add these localities to your bucket list.