Guest post by Kathryn Curzon
There are numerous dive options for travellers visiting Europe, from wreck diving off Greece to the sandy shore dives of Cornwall and the warm Canary Island waters. One of the best places to dive in Europe though is Italy. Sitting in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, it has over 450 islands and numerous dive sites to explore. Diving in Italy is perfect for travellers looking to combine cultural city breaks, pristine coastal hiking, and unique underwater landscapes.
The bustling city of Rome is top of the list for people visiting Italy to immerse themselves in history and culture, yet Rome also has great scuba diving. The Saint Lucia wreck is located just off the coast of Rome and is a well-known dive highlight. She was sunk during World War II and lies in two pieces at 44 meters depth, with her propeller and anchors still intact. This wreck is a popular choice for photographers with its great visibility and has been colonised by an abundance of marine life.
The Costacuti Reef is also worth visiting for a dive at 30 meters depth to admire a wall covered in red gorgonians, or sea fans, which are a close relative of coral. Divers can also spot a roman ship anchor tucked away amongst the gorgonians.
The town of Sorrento is nestled among cliffs and overlooks the waters towards Mt Vesuvius. What it lacks in beaches it makes up for with diving and coastal sailing. Diving in Sorrento includes caves, caverns and drop-offs into deep blue waters and has sites suitable for beginner and experienced divers. The marine and shore protected areas of Punta Campanella are a highlight for both divers and hikers, looking to enjoy the well-maintained hikes of the area and the 25 miles of protected coastline waters. At the small islet of Scoglio del Vervece, there is a cargo ship wreck, abundant fish life, and even an underwater bronze statue of the Madonna.
The largest of the many Italian islands, Sicily has the warmest climate and incredible dive sites rich in history. Aci Trezza is situated near Catania on the east coast of Sicily and is a popular resort with rocky beaches and the Faraglioni of Trezze. These ‘Islands of the Cyclops’ are three column-shaped rocks just off the coast that provide striking volcanic rock formations above and below water. This marine protected area has fascinating dive sites covered in giant gorgonians and a variety of wrecks to explore, dating from Roman times through to World War II. Seahorses can be seen at just a few meters depth and there is plenty of fish life to enjoy.
Elba, in the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, was made famous by Napoleon’s almost year-long exile on the island and is one of the most popular areas to visit for scuba diving and nature watching in the national park. The waters of the archipelago are protected as part of the national park and have excellent dive sites with plentiful marine life, including sun fish and eagle rays.
One of Elba’s most famous sites is the underwater museum off the coast in the Corsican Canal. This underwater collection of statues depicts historical and mythological figures and is well worth visiting. The wreck of the Elviscott, off the south west coast of Elba, is also popular and is a shallow wreck dive at 12 meters depth with numerous shoals of fish and moray eels. Liveaboard diving in Italy offers the opportunity to dive the more remote dive sites in this area. The Norseman, a traditional wooden sailing vessel seen above, offers diving safaris in the Tuscan Archipelago.
Sardinia is a great destination for divers of all experience levels with its crystal-clear waters, accessible dive sites, and beautiful beaches for relaxing post-dive. Stintino on the northwest coast of Sardinia has a number of easy dives suitable for beginners. The KT12 and Nasello wrecks of Cala Gonone in East Sardinia are dive highlights for more experienced divers. Fans of caves can explore St. Elmo’s Rock and also the Grotta del Nereo at Alghero; a series of caves and tunnels reaching over 350 meters. The caves have three entrances, two shallow and one deep, and are home to octopi, coral, sea slugs and lobsters.
When to Visit
Scuba diving in Italy is possible all year, with summer water temperature reaching 28 degrees Celsius and dropping to 13 degrees Celsius in winter. Whilst more marine life can be seen in summer, winter brings the opportunity to enjoy many dive sites without other divers’ present.
About the Writer
This article was written by Kathryn Curzon, a diver and writer for Liveaboard.com
Have you ever been diving in Italy and visited sites mentioned above? Where else in Europe would you recommend people go diving? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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