Sailing the Western Italian Coast and Sicily, Part 1

Italy has 600nm of coastline. The list of inland and coastal ´must visit´ destinations is as long as your arm. Add on the long string of offshore islands, the food and the amount of anchorages available to keep costs low, and it´s easy to see why live-aboards love wintering in Italy and it’s a prime destination for cruisers and charter boats. Italy is a paradise for pleasure cruising. In this series, we´ll be exploring the west coast of Italy and Sicily.

The Ligurian Coast

Cruising from the French border along the 120nm of northwestern coastline to La Spezia is easy day sailing, often with light winds. The coast is dramatically steep in some areas. Pretty and crowded harbors and villages are squeezed into hillside niches.

Must-See Spots

Genoa, Cinque Terre and La Spezia.

Genoa has one of the world´s most prestigious maritime histories and is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.

Genoa is busy and messy, but the city is vibrant and has two marinas beautifully located in the center of the old city: Porto Antico and Molo Vecchio.

Cinque Terre is a dramatic stretch of coastline to the northwest of La Spezia. Here are five tiny, colorful villages along the way to ogle from your boat, or dock at La Spezia and walk along the coast.

La Spezia has lots of marina options. It´s the perfect place to access the pretty architecture in Pisa for a couple days.

Marinas and Anchorages

There aren´t many anchorages on this stretch of coastline, because the marinas and harbors are so close together.

The Tuscan Islands and Tuscany Coast

The area between La Spezia and Civitaveccia is dearly loved by sailors, especially around Elba. The seven main islands in the Tuscan archipelago offer crystal waters and fascinating geology formed by glaciation dating back to the Triassic period.

Take a week to sail around the Tuscan archipelago: Elba, Capraia, Pianosa, Giglio, Monte Christo, etc.

This is a great stepping off point to Sardinia.

Must-See Spots

Tuscany, Pisa, Capraia, Firenze (Florence!), Siena.

Pisa is famous for its tower, but it actually has a lot of mediaeval architecture to offer. Capraia is a popular diving location between Elba and Corsica. It was an Italian penal colony until 1996!

Giglio Porto is a cool place to mooring to the quay and watch the ferries do turns in the little harbor. There are buses up the steep climb to the fortified town at the summit of the island. Giglio is an island ripe with pine forests and vineyards.

Gorgona and Giannutri are both national parks. They have areas of restricted navigation.

Porto Ercole and Cala Galera marinas, on the peninsula facing Giannutri, are good bases for exploring the inland.

Marinas and Anchorages

There are lots and lots of anchorages around the Tuscan archipelago. Porto di Pisa marina is convenient for summer visits. The river Arno´s south bank has lots of mooring facilities. Arnoveccio marina is perfectly suitable for wintering. It´s 1nm up river.

Livorno is not an attractive port, but it is great for exploring the cities of Tuscany.

Elba is a lovely Italian island with a deeply indented coast with lots of anchorages and protection from the wind. It also has some marinas (a bit on the expensive side). Porto Ferraio comes recommended. You can also go visit Napolean´s house from there. There are restrictions on anchoring here, so make sure you´re in a nonrestricted place before dropping anchor! Marcia Marina offers free mooring. Porto Azzurro, on the southeast side of the island, has a marina, good shopping facilities and self-service laundry facilities.

Capraia is a nice spot to anchor off, between Elba and Corsica.

Check out Part 2 for the north Tyrrhenian region, the Pontine Islands and Rome!

Sailing the Western Italian Coast and Sicily, Part 2

Sailing the Western Italian Coast and Sicily, Part 3

Confession: Why and How I’m Writing My First Book, Part 2

About the Captain




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