Italy for beginners. Scicily, Sardinia or mainland?

(48 Posts)
poorincashrichinlove Thu 29-May-14 14:58:23

DH have decided to save hard for a proper family holiday next summer 2015. We would love to go to Italy but don't know where to start. The wishlist:
A villa or apartment (for 5)
with pool, terrace & bbq
within 1km of a beach (pref not big & touristy)
with 2km of a town (a small authentic italian village with basic amenities at least) with a few restaurants/trattorias to choose from.
I like the look of Scicily and Sardinia but I'm also romanced by Tuscany (but don't have a clue where t stay that's neat the coast).
Budget is. �2000-2500 inc. budget flights for at least a werk.

To save money I'll be booking online so would appreciate the well-travelled wisdom of mumsnetters who are familiar with Italy and can point me in the right direction.

SoldeInvierno Fri 30-May-14 07:43:07

I have only been to Sardinia and main cities in the mainland. In Sardinia you would definitely need a car. Alghero sounds like the town your DH is describing.

I have not got suggestions for villas but I think your budget sounds a bit low for 5 people. What are you expecting to cover with 2500? Just flights and villa? What about food, insurance, car hire, etc?

juneau Fri 30-May-14 15:10:49

The coast of Tuscany is not particularly nice - much of it is marshy and the towns aren't very pretty. If you go further north though into Liguria/the Italian Riviera you'd find plenty of pretty towns on the beach. San Remo, Diano Marina, Alassio. Alternatively, the Adriatic coast is basically a string of beach towns for its entire length. I can't recommend any specific resorts, as I don't really know it, but you could ask for recommendations on here. There are Ryanair and Easyjet flights to various places on or near the Adriatic coast.

Sicily is not really for the beginner IMO. Somewhere like Taormina fits the bill, but I doubt you'd find a villa for five in the summer holidays, plus flights, for under £2500. It's also very touristy, but there is loads to see in that area and you'd find English-speakers (I'm assuming if you're Italy novices you don't speak Italian).

I don't know Sardinia, so can't comment.

AmazingDisgrace Sat 31-May-14 00:21:32

Somewhere like Pizzo in Calabria might fit the bill? We stayed in an apartment in the Borgonovo development there last summer.

SoldeInvierno Sat 31-May-14 07:58:39

You could try Sant'Elpidio a Mare. Check it in TripAdvisor. I think Ryanair flies to Ancona from Stansted

poorincashrichinlove Sun 01-Jun-14 08:55:15

Thank you for all your advice and suggestions. It seems that I can rent a villa with pool in Scicily for about. �1000 per week in peak season. Flights would come to about �1500. On top of that we would need to hire a car I think, so another �300-400. We could self cater mostly but some meals out are a must.

My Italian dream is slipping through my fingers as the costs add up sad but I don't want a package holiday/all inclusive type break with a load of Brits on tour just because it's more affordable. I'm probably being a spoilt brat...

thedevilinside Sun 01-Jun-14 09:56:14

Try Marina Di Venezia, a hop skip and a jump from Venice and with its own beach. We booked through Euro camp, paid well under £1000 for the week and booked cheap flights through Ryanair to Treviso, Yes it's a mobile home, rather than a villa, but the parc is fantastic

juneau Sun 01-Jun-14 10:09:42

I agree - drop the 'villa for five' bit of your requirements and you could easily find something within your budget. Renting an entire house in peak season is expensive.

I've been to both Sicily and Sardinia and are both gorgeous so I am sure you will have a fantastic time with whichever you decide.

I preferred Sardinia myself and stayed at a small hotel outside Alghero, most hotels provide a shuttle bus to and fro, especially as the town comes alive at night! I stayed at the Hotel Portoconte which was just lovely.

In Sicily, I stayed at a small-ish town called Giardini Naxos, at the Hellenia Yachting Hotel. It was a bus ride to Taormini but you didn't really "need" to go there on an evening as Giardini Naxos has enough restaurants and evening entertainment.

PeresteckBalveda Mon 02-Jun-14 07:31:42

Sardinia is gorgeous but very hot and busy in July/August. I'd avoid the Costa Smeralda, very busy, very glitzy/eurotrashy.

Can't comment on Sicily or Tuscany.

Bunbaker Mon 02-Jun-14 07:39:57

If you can drop the beach requirement and be happy with a pool then I would go to lake Garda. The flight to Verona is only a couple of hours and it is a short transfer to the southern part of the lake. There are holidays to suit all budgets, loads to do and utterly beautiful scenery. You can manage perfectly well without a car as the public transport - bus and ferry is very good.

eurochick Mon 02-Jun-14 07:44:58

You've listed some of the most expensive bits! I think you will struggle with your budget. Have a look at Puglia instead.

antimatter Mon 02-Jun-14 07:51:22

How about going the very last weekend in August?
Prices are better and with year ahead you can find something.
I think Sicily will be cheaper than the mainland.
I would agree with others that all requirements of pool+beach+villa would be the most expensive of all.
I guess Croatia may be a cheaper option.

NeverTalksToStrangers Mon 02-Jun-14 07:53:08

I agree on the lake garda suggestion and also agree with the camping part. Going camping there ourselves this August. Great campsite and (by booking directly with them) our accommodation is only 750 yoyos for the week. Camping isn't tacky in the way that package holidays can be.

bruffin Mon 02-Jun-14 08:07:01

I said in Taormina in Sicily, its gorgeous and the food wonderful, although we stayed half way up the cliff. Lots to do a see in Sicily as well. The greek temples at Argenta, the volcanic islands of Volcano and Lipiri and obviously Mount Etna

Bunbaker Mon 02-Jun-14 08:09:24

Camping in lake Garda in August wouldn't appeal to me. Mosquitoes are a problem and it is too hot to be able to sleep at night. We needed the aircon on at night to cool the room to an acceptable temperature.

Allalonenow Mon 02-Jun-14 08:14:25

Pescara might fit your budget, with cheap flights available.
It's a very Italian resort.
I second Diano Marina and Alassio also.

Clayhead Mon 02-Jun-14 08:17:26

You can go to Lake Garda with a company like Eurocamp and rent a mobile home/caravan with air conditioning. They also have decks, BBQs etc.

ClairesTravellingCircus Mon 02-Jun-14 08:26:41

The Marche coast is nice just South of Ancona. The Marche region is very similar to Tuscany but slightly less touristy.

Numana is a lovely resort.

Also Bibione in the north east not far from Venice, but very popular with germans.

How old are the kids?

PortofinoRevisited Mon 02-Jun-14 08:36:47
unrealhousewife Mon 02-Jun-14 08:40:50

Puglia has good value accommodation. To save costs you could stay in a camping based resort, some have chalets. This might save you between 300 to 500.

SquidgyMaltLoaf Mon 02-Jun-14 11:46:31

I would actually head to one of the Greek islands instead - just as beautiful, food as good, but cheaper (and friendlier too IMHO). Sorry if that doesn't help!

JillJ72 Mon 02-Jun-14 17:27:28

Alternatively, turn the beach on its head and go inland, find a place with a pool. We stayed in an agriturismo in Tuscany last summer for a week, complete with pool. We then had two nights on the coast, near Cecina. The pool was definitely the better option, and inland was fab (I spent time in Italy when I did my degree so it was a trip down memory lane).

poorincashrichinlove Mon 02-Jun-14 19:06:23

more suggestions coming in, thank you. We have family in corfu so going to another greek island -although I'd love to-- would be like a kick in the chops of DB&SIL.

Coastal is a must. DH needs to be near the sea. I'm bot a fan of the beach and prefer a pool and a private one at that so I can unashamedly reveal my wobbly bits

poorincashrichinlove Mon 02-Jun-14 19:06:56

*not a fan

Janek Mon 02-Jun-14 19:38:53

I love the beach at San Terenzo in Liguria. I looked on booking.com and there are a few apartments round there for under £1000. They do not have a pool, but you are so close to the sea it might not matter...

lerici, just along the coast, also has a beach

also lerici, there's a bus to san terenzo, or you can walk along the seafront

poorincashrichinlove Mon 02-Jun-14 20:21:52

Thanks for the links Janek. I hadnt looked on Booking.com and feel excited again that my holiday dream may become a reality. Now, what can I sell???

deadwitchproject Mon 02-Jun-14 20:35:37

I've been to Alghero and absolutely loved it. So pretty and very friendly. On the mainland I've only been to Rome which was a dream come true but very hot and very, very busy in July.

Siennasun Tue 03-Jun-14 17:29:13

Another cost to factor in is that a lot of beaches in Italy are privately owned by beach clubs and hotels. The clubs have great facilities but they aren't cheap. A 'residence' which is like an apartment complex that has a shared pool and free or reduced price access to a beach club may work out cheaper. I like villasimius near Cagliari in Sardegna.
If you have a hire car there are beautiful beaches you can drive to but they might involve a trek and won't have any facilities.

unrealhousewife Tue 03-Jun-14 21:59:56

Good point Sienna, I have always been disappointed in Italy where beaches are concerned, they are either private or a bit overcrowded and no facilities.

ZenNudist Fri 06-Jun-14 08:11:49

You could get everything in your list if you went to Croatia. Staying near rovinj you can do a ferry trip to Venice as well. Porec another nice family resort. Flights to Trieste for a song. It's not in the euro so cheaper by a long way compared to Italy. Food is amazing. Wine fabulous. Sadly beaches are shingle or paved! So perhaps not.

Spurious Fri 06-Jun-14 18:59:29

We are going to Liguria this summer.
Flights with BA for 4 - £450 inc taxes
Apartment in a hotel complex for 1 week €1000
Car £240

NorbertDentressangle Fri 06-Jun-14 19:01:59

Another fan of Sardinia here (especially Alghero)

SJaneS Sat 07-Jun-14 06:57:39

The Amalfi coast is amazingly beautiful with mountains covered in lemon groves, great beaches and stunning towns. Easy Jet fly into Naples and from there you can get a coastal train or ferry. Amalfi is lovely but there are other cheaper places.

Liguria is another alternative. Norwegian Air have very very cheap flights to Nice and from there its a 1 hour 15 train journey to San Remo. Trains can be booked from the UK and are really cheap. Bordighera is also nice.

A friend of mine who lives in Milan keeps recommending Cinque Terre - looks great from her pictures but might need a car.

Janek Sat 07-Jun-14 11:21:27

You definitely DON'T need a car for Cinque Terre, in fact most of the villages are car-free - you have to park at the top and walk down. And when I went in September a few years ago there was nowhere to park at all i.e. the carparks were all full. We ended up driving back to La Spezia, parking by the station (also pretty tricky...) and getting a train in.

SJaneS Sun 08-Jun-14 18:14:52

Thanks Janek - had assumed it was hard to get too, now I know just by car!

Oriunda Mon 09-Jun-14 11:56:53

Beautiful beaches in Salento (southern puglia). Cheaper too . Ryanair fly to Bari and Brindisi.

Go last week Aug for cheaper prices. Look at Long Travel and consider agriturismi too.

TerrysNo2 Wed 11-Jun-14 15:57:25

We went to Tuscany on holiday last August and I can honestly say it was one of the most stunning places I've ever been (and that includes, the Caribbean, Hawaii and Thailand!).

We got easyjet flights from Gatwick - Pisa for about £250pp and then booked into an Agriturismo (basically a farm that has apartments + facilities) which cost about £500 per week for a massive 2 bed apartment. Contrary to what I'd read Italy was not very expensive for food/drinks. We stayed here

The beaches were not great, although we did find one or two nice ones but we tended to stay around the pool a lot in our apartment.

Tinkerball Sat 14-Jun-14 09:14:49

We are off to Tuscany in 2 weeks, can't wait! I've been researching the beaches, just hope I can find a nice one!

Eve Sat 14-Jun-14 09:19:38

Pisa is not far from the coast , so have a look at villages in the beach near there.

unrealhousewife Sat 14-Jun-14 09:25:53

Terry that looks amazing! I want. We did Agroturismo 10 years ago and it was a bit rough and ready but this is beautiful and great value.

Kundry Sat 14-Jun-14 10:20:26

Sicily in August will be mind blowingly hot. We did our honeymoon in the first 2 weeks in August and it was painfully hot - most Italians knew this so everything was shut as they had all gone to the beach for the month.

Loads of people have already discovered Tuscany so the holiday of your dreams there will be v v v expensive. Plus no beaches or not very nice ones.

Adriatic coast around Rimini/Ravenna/Pesaro is full of Italians crammed in on sun loungers like sardines so deffo not what you are looking for.

I'd suggest Ligurian coast or La Marche and looking at Agriturismo instead of renting a villa.

We are going to La Marche for part of our holiday this year and it is very much undiscovered - prices are half those in Umbria and Umbria is a lot less than Tuscany. I became absolutely obsessed with staying here www.latavolamarche.com

If you go to an agriturismo a bit further in land then you can easily have the idyllic Italy experience at a reasonable price. Around Ascoli Piceno or Fano might suit what you are looking for.

How old are the kids and do you just want beach/pool or are you looking for cultural things as well?

unrealhousewife Sat 14-Jun-14 22:43:54

Terry I'm thinking of booking you Agroturismo, was it very remote , was there a town nearby?

tiredandsadmum Sat 14-Jun-14 22:51:22

Sicily is gorgeous, but August - far too hot.

Do look at the Lakes in the North - they are all different. You can fly Ryan Air to Bergamo.

You can swim in the Lakes at the lidos.

Loletta Sat 14-Jun-14 22:55:12

My DH is Italian and I can tell you that everywhere in Italy is very hot in August. It's not like Sicily is necessarily hotter than Sardinia or Tuscany. It's hot full stop. It only gets better if you're very near the coast and I think your plan of being near the beach is a very sensible one. After all Italian cities are deserted on August for a reason!
I am quite confident that the place for you is Tuscany. There are beautiful beaches but you must know where to go. Try googling Argentario or Uccellina and see for yourself.
The idea of staying in agriturismo is an excellent one too.
Fly to Pisa or Rome and stay in south of Tuscany. The nearest city is Grosseto.
Good luck and pm me if you need more info

TerrysNo2 Sun 15-Jun-14 23:39:55

unreal it was on a hill a couple of km from a nice little town called Pomerance which has a nice (but small) square with a couple of bars and a nice restaurant. The place we really liked going to in the evening was Volterra which is about 30 mins away, a stunning hilltop town with nice shops and restaurants.

I can tell you lots more about the Agriturismo if you want, just PM me. smile

AllTheLeavesAreGreen Mon 23-Jun-14 22:54:16

No idea on prices but the Isle of Elba is very popular with Italians who want a beach holiday in Tuscany. You'd have to fly to Pisa (Ryanair) and then drive down to the ferry, so car hire essential.

It's lovely, loads of beaches obviously, and very lush and green too, especially further inland, but very busy in August.

Just a thought.

jenster1976 Mon 07-Jul-14 21:49:53

We're flying to Lamezia in Calabria in 2 weeks, staying in a 'holiday village' in a 2 bed villa next to the beach not far from the beautiful town of Tropea. This region is stunning with fab quiet beaches, for a family of 5 (one a baby though) we're paying total of £2,400 inc. car hire and unfortunately flying Ryanair, so I hope we will survive! Its sc but with option of earing meals in hotel...However am totally excited and sounds like its exactly what you're after. Can you let in 2 weeks if Its a winner! Booked it all independently....

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