Italy embraces modernity while still seeking to carefully preserve its past. This is a country in which 60 million people live across 20 regions, each of which has its own character and unique traditions. This elegant “boot” is washed by 5 seas at once, and its first-class resorts make Italy one of the most attractive destinations for tourists. Diving in Italy is no less popular than diving in the tropics. The coastline is the longest in Europe at about 8000km. But which of the five seas is the best for diving? Our short review will look to answer to this question.
All the islands of Capri, Ischia and Elba, and the hundreds of kilometers of beaches from Tuscany to Calabria are washed by the immaculate Tyrrhenian Sea. The average annual air temperature in the summer is +28C and the water temperature is +27C. Each region of the Tyrrhenian coast is rich with inland sights, but we’ll focus on what is hidden underwater.
Vervece is a rock located near the small port of Sorrento. This beautiful island is a part of the Marine Protected Area of Punta Campanella. This isn’t merely an island, but the top of a seamount. Its walls stem down more than 50 meters and are interesting when viewed at any level. Groupers, scorpionfish, octopuses, whole schools of white bream and blue damsels are all present among the marine life. Fan corals and smoothly swaying white jellyfish-hydroids decorate the underwater landscape. There is a statue of the Madonna del Vervece at a 12 meters depth and it is said that she protects all divers during a dive.
The Adriatic coast stretches along the eastern side of Italy. The summer season is accompanied with a comfortable climate and lasts from May to October. At the end of spring, the water warms up to +18C, reaching +26C by the end of summer. Most of the beaches have been awarded blue flags, which confirm their high standards and quality.
Republic of Rose Island
Unique and famous not only for its colorful underwater world and impressive scenery, but also its curious history, Rose Island is a 400 m² artificial platform that was built by engineer Giorgio Rosa 11.5 km off the coast of Rimini. On May 1, 1968, the island declared itself an independent state with its own president, coat of arms, national anthem and even stamps. This completely utopian idea was brought to life and lasted only 55 days. Obviously, the Italian government was hardly impressed. Tax evasion, obstacles posed to passing ships and several other grievances led to the platform being blown up on February 13, 1969, and Giorgio Rosa’s dreams were cast off to the bottom. This story was slowly forgotten, dismissed for decades merely as some attempt to “urbanize” the sea, with the remains of the famous island only being found in 2009. Now this is a popular dive site on the Adriatic coast, available to every diver. The depth of the wreck is only 12 meters down, and the wreckage is overgrown with corals, mussels, and seaweeds. Barracudas, mullets, and scorpion fish can often be found among the sea creatures here, octopuses at times seen by the most attentive divers.
The Ligurian (Italian Riviera) has been considered a favorite place among bohemians and nobility since ancient times. The luxury hotels and prestigious resorts, endless vineyards, olive groves, and the emerald sea complement the already perfect picture here. The names of San Remo, Portofino, Genoa are familiar to everyone. The climate on the Ligurian coast is mild and comfortable, with the Alps shielding it from the north winds. In summer, the water warms up to +27 C, and the air temperature in August can reach +35C. The period from June to September is the best time for vacationing here. The visibility of the local waters is 20-25 meters and allows for detailed study of the richness of the underwater life. The Ligurian coast offers trips to both large and small caves, sunken ships and steep rocks, and for the admiration of colorful corals and fishes. But we want to tell you in detail about the place which is the symbol of all divers and one of the most famous dives in Italy.
Christ of the Abyss
A monument installed in 1954 and dedicated to the memory of Dario Gonzatti, one of the first Italian divers, who died in 1947. This Christ stands 2.5 meters high and is made of bronze which was smelted from parts of sunken ships and even medals. Resting 17 meters below the surface, Christ lifts his hands in a sign of peace. It’s an amazing picture when the refracted rays of the sun illuminate the statue like a spotlight. The exceptional transparency of the water allows the details of the statue and the surrounding marine life to be easily looked upon. Corals and seaweeds densely cover its surface, and schools of nimble fish are permanent companions of this tourist attraction. Anthiases, tiny nudibranchs, branched yellow and red corals, as well as several species of crustaceans can be seen here. This dive site is suitable even for beginner divers and will leave behind an enthusiastic and even mystical aftertaste.
This is the southern part of Italy, which includes such regions as Calabria, Apulia, parts of Sicily and others. It’s also known as a “Land of Castles;” they are everywhere, so you can easily diversify your diving trip with a rich and interesting excursion program. It must be admitted that the Ionian coast is inferior in popularity to other regions of Italy but nevertheless has a lot of advantages. One of them is its pleasant climate; summer air temperatures range from +25С and up to +35С. There is no feeling of heat, however, because of the sea breeze. Lovers of relaxing holidays will be delighted by the wide and spacious beaches, as well as the secluded lagoons. There are practically no noisy resorts to be found here. The infrastructure is very well developed and a great deal of entertainment can be found, including many dive centers. Their staff can help you to organize diving from a boat, the coast, or on nearby islands.
A breathtaking dive can be experienced at the foot of the legendary Scilla mountain, found in the town of the same name. The dive begins at a depth of 5 meters, with large stone boulders stretching down to a depth of 20 meters, then the bottom drops sharply, forming a reef, from which a spire with vertical walls reaches upward. During the dive, you have to go around this cliff in a clockwise direction, carefully studying the hidden wonderful world. Morays and perch hide in the chimneys, scorpion fish motionless sit at the bottom and the surface of the sheer walls is decorated with such an abundance of coral and gorgonian that one can be pretty easily left dazzled. The lush bushes of red coral alternate with bright yellow alcyonaria, and the tubular anemone, located closer to the top, showcase their glowing white tentacles. Families of sea urchins with sharp spines can be found here, so you’ll want to stay away from them. This place is visited by huge schools of yellowtails, which might make you jump when they appear suddenly. There is definitely something for everyone to see and admire. To dive here, you must have a certificate no less than that of an Advanced Open Water Diver.
The beaches of Sardinia, Catania, Syracuse and the Aeolian Islands stretch by the unusually warm Mediterranean Sea. In the summer, the air warms up to +28C, and in the winter it cools to +13C. Visibility off the islands reaches 40 meters, and the underwater landscape is dotted with numerous canyons and caves. You can alternate diving with viewings of ancient architecture and introductions to local traditions.
The KT12 is an armed German cargo ship that sank in 1943. The ship, with a length of almost 60 meters, lies at a depth of 35 meters. The British torpedo that proved her end literally tore off the bow, which lies 300 meters from the rest of the hull. The wreck is considered one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. Visibility is most often excellent at 20-25 meters. Surviving weapons include a 75mm gun on the stern and another 40 mm in the bow, which always attracts divers’ attention. The anchor, screw, wheelhouse and engine room can also be seen. The curious fish living here aren’t afraid of divers at all and swim very close. The ship is so impressive that you’ll want to study it as long as possible. The only thing you’re likely to regret is the limited amount of time you’ll be able to spend underwater.
You can read about Italy across thousands of reviews and travel guides, but this is nothing compared to first stepping on its lands and diving into its waters. It's hard not to fall in love with Italy. Believe me, no matter how much you stay in this country - a week, a month, or several years - this still won’t be enough. It’s not “arrividerchi” that we say to Italy, but “a presto”! Which means - see you soon!