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best seaside chowtown in Italy?

Planning a summer vacation in Italy and looking to find a foodie-friendly, non-touristy town/region by the sea where we can explore the local cuisine, markets, trattorias, etc. Looking forward to your recommendations!

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  1. Sorrento is beautiful and has some very good restaurants, and is well-located for touring the Amalfi coast and Capri, where you will also find some great seafood.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rrems

      Sorrento "foodie-friendly, non-touristy"??? It's a mass-tourism destination, with lots of places that serve fish and chips to the Brits and bacon and eggs (for dinner!) to the Germans.

      For something off the beaten track and with decent local restaurants, have a look at Cetara on the Amalfi Coast. But be aware that the only way to get there is by local bus from Amalfi or Salerno.

      1. re: zerlina

        Yes, I did not notice that OP specified "non-touristy". Sorrento does have some excellent restaurants though (no need to eat fish and chips or bacon and eggs), so yes it is "foodie-friendly", and is centrally located. Maybe summer is not the best time, though (I went in early spring). The entire Amalfi coast is mobbed in summer, so unless you find an out-of-the-way place and never leave it, you will be caught in the tourist throngs.

    2. I have visited Portonovo a couple of times. It is bewteen Ancona and Monte Conero in Le Marche. Actually, I can't say that I have seen the town, since the road of the highway goes directly to the beach. The "beach", of course, is pebbly, but on a sunny Sunday afternoon a goodly portion of the Marche population is in attendance. There are several run down beachy restaurants. Good, simple fish houses with, usually, a long wait for a table. Great fun.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DaleJ

        Your best bet is likely on the Adriatic Coast in Le Marche or Puglia, although I would imagine finding a non-touristy seaside village anywhere in Italy in during the summer months is unlikely.

      2. Thanks for some good suggestions. Yeah, it's hard to find "non-touristy" places in Italy in the summertime (an Italian friend laughed when I asked - he goes to Spain in the summer!) but a few tourists are fine as long as there are good places to eat for those looking for something other than fish and chips, etc. I went to Venice in July and despite the hordes found quite a few good chowhound-friendly trattorias!

        Based on my exhaustive research over the weekend, I've had a lot of people mention Praiano on the Amalfi Coast, the east coast of Sicily (Marzamemi, Syracuse, Noto), and the Adriatic Coast...does anyone know a good apartment/villa rental website that does rentals on the Adriatic? Most seem to focus on Tuscany and the Mediterranean coast...thanks!

        2 Replies
        1. re: the Sparrow

          Id try VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) website.We found the seafood both on the Amalfi Coast and in Naples, and the Adriatic side up by Ravenna and Pesaro delicious. Seafood is getting scarce in these waters but there is a great enthusiasm for it and skill in cooking it.

          1. re: the Sparrow

            If you stay in Praiano, highly recommend the Tramonto d'Oro Hotel - incredible views of the coast and Positano. And much less expensive than if it's address were Positano. A bunch of cute little seaside restaurants scattered up and down the coast, with the crowd favorite being Armandino's, on the Praiano 'harbour.'

          2. Have you come upon Sperlonga in Lazio? It's not terribly well known, but might fit the bill.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bropaul

              Sperlonga's nice, and fairly close to Rome. Farther south in Campania, and past the Amalfi coasts and Salerno, try the towns along the Cilento coast--Castellabate, Pisciotta, Camerota, for example, for a very unspoiled, green seaside sojourn. All have marina towns and histoic borghi a little up in the hills behind, and there are lots of good trattorie.

            2. What about the Cinque Terre? It's been a while since I've been there, but they didn't seem as touristy as they are a little more difficult to get to. None of the towns are really huge, but they're not far apart--you can walk or take the train to get between them.

              I really liked Syracuse, and it's a much bigger city with more markets. You would probably want to stay in Ortigia, which is the old historic section. We had pretty fabulous seafood there. I also liked Lipari, although it might be a little more touristy. Still, I found both of these places to be more to my liking than Taormina, which was beautiful, but I didn't feel like any Italians actually lived there.

              One place where we found excellent food by the sea which wasn't very touristy was Naples, but I can understand that it wouldn't be to everyone's taste (especially if they don't do something about the garbage problem soon), and if you're going in the summer it might be miserably hot. Still, it's the birthplace of pizza!

              1. It's definitely going to be hard to find a non-touristy sea side destination here in Italy over the summer...! I live by the sea -ten minutes away by car- in Ravenna and it's packed with -mainly Italian- tourists over the weekend. If you choose this area, that is the coast between Ravenna and Rimini there's loads of places where you can enjoy local cuisine, either by the many seaside resorts or even up in the hills (make sure you rent a car when you get here). A few places you should not miss are the tiny fish take aways or eateries by the port in Marina di Ravenna, very rustic but also very typical. If you go there by lunch you won't be disappointed. Driving south you can then explore the beautyful old town in Cesenatico, and try one of the many restaurants on the canal, which is very pretty at night (I would suggest the Osteria del Gran Fritto of La Buca restaurant, which is one of the best known restaurants of Cesenatico offering fish specialities. La Buca is the main thing, whereas the Osteria del Gran Fritto is the more economical and easy going section of the main restaurant. If you visit Ravenna don't miss Cà de Ven, by the Piazza San Francesco, a wonderful location for an ancient winery where you'll find delicious piadina with squaquerone, something you have to have while visiting around this area. You can visit www.turismo.ravenna.it to get an idea of the region. Besides this, I would either suggets the Cinque Terre (but this is definitely the most touristy of touristy Italian summer), Puglia (I would pick the wonderful Lecce region, Gallipoli and Porto Cesareo with the whitest beaches and Caribbean-like sea) or the area around Syracuse in Sicily (which is definitely less touristy than Taormina, where you can go for a one day visit). Palermo is really worth visiting and won't certainly disappoint the food-wine lover. Also, the coast between Palermo and Trapani is fascinating, and if you get there you might as well want to go the Egadi, the small islands just 30minutes away from Trapani (you leave the car there as you won't need them on the islands, where you'll hang around by bike or scooter). Hope this is going to help! Alice

                1. I'll put in a vote for Senigallia, Le Marche. Great options on both high-end and lower-end: Uliassi (http://www.alifewortheating.com/italy...), Madonnina del Pescatore (http://www.alifewortheating.com/italy...), Aniko, Osteria del Teatro. And Susci Bar Clandestino just a short trip away.

                  1. Thanks for all the responses. We decided to do 5 days on the Amalfi Coast - Positano and Ravello - touristy, yes, but as we are traveling with a baby, it was easy for us to rent an apartment there, and many have assured us we will eat well - and another 5 in Castellabate on the Cilento coast, for the less touristy part of the vacation (supposedly good beaches there.) Will post my report on the Italy board when I return in late June!

                    1. Towns along the Adriatic Sea, i.e.Albaadriatica, Roseto, Loreto, Guilanova, or San Benedetto are lovely, out of the way places. The tourists that travel there are mostly Germans or British.