Written by Julia in Puglia,
Last Modified: 1st June 2022

When you buy a property in an Italian region with Blue Flag beaches, you are sure of sparkling clear waters and good beach services on your day out at the seaside. So where are the new Blue Flags for summer 2022, and the best of the usual winners?

The new Blue Flag beach awards see 427 locations in Italy earning the right to fly the prestigious Blue Flag in 2022 (Bandiere blu in Italian). The Liguria region has an amazing 63 blue flags flying on beaches across 32 municipalities. Some municipalities have several beaches that have received the award. Other regions that have done well are Campania (51 beaches), Puglia (50 beaches), Sardinia (44 beaches) and Tuscany (35 beaches) each of whom are represented by 18 municipalities. Abruzzo and Marche were close behind with 27 beaches each.

To put that in perspective, England has a total of 80 blue flags around its coastline.

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Abruzzo’s Alba Adriatica boasts a new Blue Flag for 2022

How do they get a Blue Flag?

Each year municipalities independently submit the results of a bathing water analysis. The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) look at this along with 32 other parameters to decide who deserves a Blue Flag. It isn’t easy to get. and they have to maintain that standard, or risk losing their flag the following year.

The entire management of the area is taken into account, including the care of tourists, attention to safety and services, inclusiveness and culture. Other elements they look at are pedestrian areas, cycle paths, street furniture, green areas, beach services, removal of architectural barriers and the provision of courses in environmental protection.

It should be noted that there are many lovely beaches in Italy that don’t have the Blue Flag. They may even be more beautiful and natural, with sand dunes and caves. The only reason they don’t have a blue flag may be that they don’t have all the facilities, such as toilets and cycle paths, that the resort towns can offer.

New Blue Flag entries

The are 14 new entries on Italy’s Blue Flag list for 2022. They include a silvery beach called “Spiaggia d’Argento,” at Alba Adriatica in Abruzzo. There are two new locations in Emilia-Romagna. These are at Riccione and San Mauro Pascoli. In the Marche region the blue flag now proudly flies at Porto Recanati, a seaside village with a castle and nine kilometres of beaches alongside a pedestrianized promenade and cycle paths.

The Calabria region has two new entries. Caulonia, an ancient city on the Ionian Sea, and Isola di Capo Rizzuto, located within the largest protected marine area in Europe. The only new lakeside entry is at Cannobio, on the north-western shore of Lake Maggiore in Piedmont. At Cannobia there are some very prestigious villas for sale with the most stunning lake views.

Three regions with the most blue flag beaches

Liguria region

Liguria has a rocky coastline with small hidden coves, beaches and pretty pastel coloured seaside villages perched on the cliffs above tiny ports. Five of these villages are Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Vernazza, which have become very popular with tourists, and known collectively as the Cinque Terre.

The whole Ligurian coastline has so much to offer visitors and homeowners alike. Stretching 300km from Ventimiglia to Ameglia the Ligurian coast also boasts the Gulf of Poets, the Gulf of Tigullio, Genoa, the Paradise Gulf, the Riviera delle Palme and the Riviera dei Fiori.

The coastal areas are sheltered by the mountains and you will see terraces supported by dry stone walls covered in vineyards and olive groves and extensive woods with centuries old trees. The Ligurian coast between Cinque Terre and Portovenere along with the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, are a cultural landscape of great scenic and cultural value and have been recognised as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. For those who enjoy walking there are coastal paths and inland mountain trails, valleys, streams and lakes to explore.

The sea itself is a big attraction, particularly for its beautiful marine life. There are whale watching excursions, diving trips and opportunities to go snorkeling. The Ligurian Sea attracts several specimens of sperm whales and dolphins, in an area known as the “Sanctuary of Cetaceans.”

Blue Flags in Liguria

In 2022,  Liguria has 63 blue flags flying in 32 municipalities. 14 of their tourist ports also got an award. Wherever you buy property in Liguria the coast with its Blue Flag beaches wont be far away. Thirteen municipalities in the Savona province alone have Blue Flags. In the Imperia province there are eight. The town of Imperia has two blue flag beaches and Sanremo has four. San Remo has many properties for sale with sea views at prices from €250,000 up to €1.5 million.

Blue flag beaches in Italy

Santa Margherita Ligure, a Blue Flag beach in Genova (​​Solarisys/Shutterstock)

Buying Property in Liguria

Much of Liguria has avoided modern development and there are many small towns and villages that have kept their Italian charm, despite the number of visitors. Traditions in both style of property and lifestyle are maintained and the atmosphere is very relaxed, making Liguria a lovely place to retire or enjoy holidays. The region has a mild climate, with summers temperatures reaching a comfortable 27C and midwinter highs of around 12C.

You can expect a sea view property near a beach to come at a premium. However, they’re not always as expensive as you might think. For example, this two-bed house overlooking the beaches of Riva Ligure is only €260,000. There are properties in the hills with panoramic terrace views of the sea and coastline at very reasonable prices. Such as this sea view property near La Spezia for €230,000. Just 30 minutes inland, you don’t get the sea views, but you will find character properties in medieval villages. Like this three bedroom stone property above the River Vara Valley for €250,000. There are more homes for sale on our Property for sale in Liguria page. For more information on the Liguria region visit the Liguria tourism website. 

Campania region

Campania has attracted visitors for centuries. The ancient Romans called it “the Happy Land” (campania felix) and had holiday and retirement villas here. Today it is still a region of stunning landscapes and delicious food. Pizza, gelato and mozzarella (made with the milk of the Italian water buffalo) all have their origins in this region.

Where else can you find a coastline as glorious as the Amalfi Coast and visit a building as beautiful as the Palace of Caserta. If that wasn’t enough, there is also the intriguing history of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius, the colourful city of Naples and the fashionable islands of Capri and Ischia.

Blue Flag beaches in Campania

Eighteen municipalities across the provinces of Naples and Salerno have been awarded Blue Flags. Famous locations such as Sorrento, Positano, and Agropoli are all on the list. The new entry this year is Ispani, which is located in Salerno, between Scario and Sapri, it is one of the pearls of Cilento with the beach located in the Capitello district.

Buying Property in Campania

Campania has both some of Italy’s most expensive and cheapest homes. Villas on the Amalfi Coast or the island of Capri rarely come up for sale and can cost over a million. But what price can you put on those dramatic coastal views? This area has a stylish luxury charm that attracts the rich and famous and features on many a person’s bucket list.

All this and a B;lue Flag too! The Amalfi Coast

If you go down the Cilento coast (south of Amalfi) you can find sea views at more affordable prices and pretty little towns and beaches, backed by national parkland. It is possible to find large sea view villas for less than €550,000 and apartments from €99,000. You wont get all the facilities offered at Blue flag resorts, but the coast does have a natural beauty.

By buying a property slightly inland you may get a more expansive view to the coast and cheaper prices, although property here will be a lot less glitzy. There are also numerous quiet villages in Campania’s interior offering cheap village houses. There is a selection of what is on offer on the Property for sale in Campania page. For more tourist information about Campania visit Italia.it.

Puglia region

Apulia has the longest coastline of all the mainland regions, boasting 860km (540 miles) of golden beaches and breath-taking cliffs. The Adriatic sea, the Ionian Sea, the Strait of Òtranto and the Gulf of Taranto all lap its shores, giving the peninsula the feel of being on an island with the benefits of being part of the mainland.

The Apulia region is often thought of as the heel of the Italian ‘boot’. However, this southernmost portion, called Salento, is only half of it, as Apulia stretches much further up past the regional capital Bari and on to the Gargano promontory, home to an extensive National Park and some pretty seaside towns and small islands.  There are five main provinces, Foggia, Bari, Taranto, Brindisi and Lecce. However, it is the southern half that attracts most holiday home buyers, with airports conveniently located at both Bari and Brindisi.

Ostuni

In the Brindisi province the pretty hill top town of Ostuni draws many visitors and gets very busy in the summer. The historic part of the town is a maze of narrow lanes with a street full of gift shops leading from Piazza Liberta up to the church. As you wind your way back down you’ll spot bars, restaurants and some amazing views across the olive groves to the sea. Nightlife centres around Piazza Liberta, with regular live music events. There are five Blue Flag beaches within 10 minutes drive or a bus ride.

Salento

In Apulia you can easily combine having a property in the countryside with trips to the beach. If you are looking to buy a holiday home in a popular area near the sea, head south to the Salento peninsula. Even if you buy inland you are never more than 30 minutes’ drive from the sea.

The climate is typically Mediterranean with short mild winters, hot dry summers and temperatures over 32C in July and August. This makes Salento one of the most popular holiday destinations for Northern Italians, who drive down on bank holiday weekends and for summer holidays. Many of them head straight to the coastal areas around Otranto and Gallipoli, where they can enjoy the restaurants and nightlife of these beautiful coastal towns and relax on one of the many beaches during the day.

Blue Flag beaches in Puglia

Along the coast between Brindisi and Bari there are very popular seaside resorts such as Rosa Marina. The coastal areas near Ostuni and Fasano are very popular. Further up and within the province of Bari are the charming old seaside towns of Monopoli and Polignano a Mare, each having five Blue Flag beaches.

Polignano a Mare, one of Italy’s 400+ blue Flag beaches

If you are looking for a relaxed village setting for your holiday home, take a look at areas around one of the pretty Salento villages, such as: Nardo with one of the most beautiful piazzas in Italy and five Blue Flag beaches; Castro with its castle, fortifications, attractive port and two blue flags; and Specchia, which has been voted one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and is also close to the lovely Blue Flag beach at Porto Selvaggio.

More details of the Bandiere blu (Blue Flags) in Puglia are on the Puglia Tourism website.

Three new Blue Flags for Puglia

The first new entry is Castro, in the province of Lecce. It boasts crystal clear waters and a rocky shoreline. This large apartment for sale in Castro has high vaulted ceilings and fantastic sea views from the terrace. The second is Rodi Garganico, located in the massive Gargano National Park. The park includes the Marine Reserve of the Tremiti Islands, an area unlike any other, thanks to the extraordinary beauty of its sea beds, natural caves and sparkling waters. Finally, there is Ugento, in the lower Salento, with three blue flag on beaches of white sand, overlooking the Ionian Sea and protected by dunes.

Buying property in Puglia

I have spoken before about Buying a holiday home in Puglia. It certainly is a great place to enjoy relaxing holidays in the sun, and the weather is mild for most of the year. Many British buyers choose to buy inland villas and Trulli or village houses in the Itria Valley. You can still find small villas needing some modernisation for less than €100,000. Especially if you look around the towns that are less touristy. The large Masserie farm houses are also attracting those wanting to renovate a building that they can live in, and make a living from by providing B&B or holiday rentals.

As a permanent resident of Puglia, I can certainly recommend the region for year-round living. It has all the amenities you need including, hospitals, out of town shopping centres and DIY stores, while the towns and villages still have family run shops and weekly markets. It is always a pleasant drive exploring the many beaches around the coast. A selection of homes in Puglia can be seen on our Puglia Property for sale page. For tourist information visit the official Puglia tourism website, Viaggiare Puglia.

Italy has so many beautiful beaches, and the weather suitable for enjoying them for much of the year. Out of the main summer weeks it’s possible to find a stretch of beach all to yourself, even when the temperatures are in the high 20s. The full list of Blue Flag beaches for each region of Italy can be found on the Bandieri blu website. 

 

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