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Diving in Italy

Vibrant and full of heart, Italy is a place unlike any other in the world. Diving is found around the entire peninsula and on the myriad of islands also including in the country’s political boundaries.

Diving in Italy

Quick facts

Italy, projecting into the Mediterranean Sea like a long haute-couture boot, tempts divers with an extremely long coastline, myriad islands and warm, clear water inviting you to slip beneath the surface. If you’re interested in wreck diving, be sure to see the Saint Lucia, off the coast of Rome. This WWII wreck is excellent to photograph, as the propeller waits in suspended animation, as if in memory of days past. In Liguria, the epicenter of scuba, some 30 kilometres/18 miles east of Genoa, is the famous seaside village of Portofino. Flanked by the towns of Santa Margherita Ligure and Camogli, Portofino is also the birthplace of Italian diving. Hiking the myrtle-clad hills overlooking the bay and whiling away the days people watching on the beach are popular ways to dodge the crowds, but none can compare with slipping silently beneath the surface and enjoying one of the many top class dive sites dotted along the coast. Diving in Sorrento is typified by the same topography found on shore: Steep drop-offs, caves and caverns. The jewel in its crown is the protected marine area of Punta Campanella. With some 40 kilometres/25 miles of coastline, the protected area allows limited use with permission of the managing authority ensuring a healthy marine ecosystem. The protected area also covers the shore, where well-marked trails guide visitors through citrus groves, forests and ancient archaeological sites to magnificent viewpoints. Don’t miss out on the many islands that dot the exterior of the peninsula. These are a special treat for divers of any experience level. Sardinia is known for three things: its beaches, the clarity of its water and colorful underwater scenes. Sicily, Italy’s largest island, offers many opportunities to dive in some of the country's warmest water. In the Tuscan Archipelago, Elba is the island made famous by Napoleon’s nearly year-long exile. But for divers, the island offers much more welcoming possibilities like pelagic animals and breathtaking drop-offs. Isole Pontine, a volcanic archipelago between Rome and Naples that includes Ponza and Ventotene Islands, offers interesting topography for divers, including caves, caverns, grottoes and wrecks.

Recommended training

Many dive sites in the region are quite deep; so consider the PADI Deep Diver specialty. There are also great sites to apply Wreck Diver training. As always, the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course will help you record your visit

When to go

April through October is prime dive season. The weather in Italy is typically mild by European standards, but can vary widely by location. Expect an average winter low of 3°C/38°F and winter high of 13°C/55°F. Summer average lows are approximately 18°C/64°F and summer highs are about 29°C/85°F. Water temperatures range from 15-25°C/60-80°F depending on time of year, location and depth. In addition, visibility ranges widely, but you'll find some of the best off Italy’s Mediterranean islands at up to 50 meters/165 feet.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

  • Campania
  • Elba

    Touted as one of the best places to dive in the Mediterranean Sea, the sunny, Italian island of Elba hosts an amazing variety of marine life, including sun fish, eagle rays and schools of amberjacks.

  • Liguria

    Diving in Liguria offers some of the best diving in the Mediterranean, the birthplace of Italian diving. Home to many top class dive sites.

  • Sardinia

    As the Mediterranean’s premier diving destination, gorgeous, Italian Sardinia attracts all levels of divers wanting to explore its maze-like caves, historical wrecks and fascinating underwater life.

  • Sicily

    Sicily is a welcomed assault to the senses with its rich history, captivating volcanic landscape and inviting turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

USD 1,116Per trip
* Li Galli Islands – Crystal clear water and abundant red and yellow sea fans greet divers on the underwater walls. Beam and croakers lurk in the nooks and crannies, and, especially early and late in the dive season, tuna visit the current-washed dive sites. * Vervece Rock – This tiny rock, close to the town of Sorrento, is the tip of a seamount that plunges to 50 metres/165 feet. At 12 metres/40 feet rests a bronze statue of the Virgin Mary. For advanced divers, a wreck of a cargo ship nearby lies in 40 metres/130 feet of water. Ocean currents, and the marine protected area, make for abundant marine life. * Mitigliano Grotto – This cavern is a high voltage dive site for those with the right qualifications and experience. It features several air-filled chambers into which divers can surface and fresh water seeps in through the rocks creating haloclines and keeping the water temperature cool. Divers sometimes see the rare, and decidedly odd, fish Oligopus ater here. * Capo di Sorrento – This is a shallow dive, near Queen Giovanna’s Baths, where divers can find shards of ancient pottery. Colorful invertebrates, including nudibranchs, sponges and sea fans abound. * Christ of the Abyss - This is the original. Installed in August 1954 in the small bay at San Fruttuoso, it commemorates diver Dario Gonzatti who died while diving an early rebreather. The famous sculpture lies at 16 meters/53 feet and is kept company by schools of damselfish, perch and wrasse. This is a fairly easy dive in sheltered waters and there are options for more challenging wreck and wall dives in the area. Copies of the statue are located at St. George’s, Grenada and Key Largo, Florida, USA. * Colossus - This steam-powered tug measures 33 meters/110 feet long with a beam of 8 metres/26 feet went to the bottom in 1945 during World War Two. An advanced or technical dive, she lies intact at about 40 metres/130 feet on a sandy bottom. Now well colonized by marine life, the massive bronze propelle and well-preserved galley and crew’s quarters make for an exciting dive. * Isuela - This underwater pinnacle reaches up from 60 meters/200 feet to within 13 meters/40 feets of the surface. Nutrient rich currents bathe the site and feed a profusion of marine life. Look for moray and conger eels in the many cracks and crevices. Gorgonians filter feeding in the current carpet the steep walls and big schools of snapper prowl the area. This is often hailed as one of the best dives in the Med, testament to the protections afforded by marine reserves. * Shrimp Cave - A vertical wall starting at about 20 metres/66 feet drops steeply into the abyss here. At about 35 meters/115 feet, Shrimp Cave is home to vast numbers pale red pandalid shrimp, which shy from divers’ lights. Healthy colonies of red coral and yellow sponges cover the walls and grouper colonize the rocky shallows of this high voltage dive site. * Mohawk Deer - This Canadian steam powered cargo ship was on tow from Genoa to the salvage yard at La Spezia in 1974, when she struck a rock and broke into two massive chunks. It’s now one of the best know and loved dive sites in the area. A great spot for a multilevel dive, the stern and boilers lie deeper than 40 metres/130 feet and the bow section is just over 20 metres/66 feet from the surface. Scorpion fish, moray and conger eels and grouper call the wreck home. * Punta Secca Carega - Also known as Dry Gonzatti, (after Dario Gonzatti, the diver commemorated by Christ of the Abyss) this dive site lies not far offshore the Portofino peninsula. A 20-metre/66-foot deep saddle separates the pinnacle from shore and then rises to within 5 metres/15 feet of the surface before plunging steeply to more than 50 metres/165 feet. Schools of anthias, snapper and bream populate the site and gorgonians reach from the reef for current-born goodies. * St. Elmo’s Rock, Sardinia – This is a dive site with caves and caverns that hosts nearly all the species you could encounter in the entire Mediterranean. * Secca del Papa, Sardinia – This site has imposing granite formations and fish life dancing around the rocks. * Aci Trezza, Sicily – Just off the coast are three tall column-shaped islands, called the Ciclopi Rocks, which, according to legend, Polyphemus threw at Ulysses. In addition to the dark volcanic rocks, colorful basalt and huge sea fans, you'll have the chance to see wrecks dating from Roman times all the way through the two World Wars. * Punta di Fetovaia, Elba – This dive site is marked by red, white and yellow gorgonians, lobsters, barracuda and pelagic fish, as well as schools of chromis and grouper. * Saint Lucia, Rome – Sunk during WWII, this wreck lies in 44 metres/145 feet of water. Although, in two pieces, the propeller, the anchors and the stern handrail are still intact. Visibility is usually good and photographers appreciate the marine life that has colonized the wreck. * Costacuti Reef, Rome – This dive site features a gorgonian encrusted wall which drops to more than 40 metres/130 feet with a Roman anchor at its base.

What to see

The Mediterranean holds a unique array of creatures. You can see moray and conger eels, lobster, octopus, scorpion fish, nudibranchs and large species such as tuna, grouper, snapper and barracuda. Whales and dolphins are regular visitors. The interestingly colored corals and fabulous sea fans are unlike any other in the world, and there are many large sponges to capture your attention. Pelagic species such as yellowtail tuna and amberjack can be seen on the offshore sites.

Calendar

For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Italy. It’s the birthplace of the Renaissance, a mecca of design, art, architecture, fashion, romance and cuisine. And it’s proudly perched on the interface between the Old World and the new wave. Across the country, sheer cliffs plunge vertically into clear blue Mediterranean waters, interrupted only by idyllic little beaches and impossibly beautiful coastal villages. Magnificent villas, vineyards and citrus groves, carved over the centuries into the cliff walls, tower above the winding coast road. Italy juts down into the Mediterranean, the “boot” of Europe. This historical nation has been a country since 1861, though the Roman Empire reigned for centuries. A veritable battle ground during the Middle Ages, Italy today is riddled with old forts and castles. The chaos of medieval times lead into the Renaissance, one of the most important ages. Italy has evolved heavily over the years, changing from peace to war to a Fascist regime. Today, the country is democratic, and though it was recently hit by a recession, things are looking up for this beautiful land.

Other attractions

Sample the delicacies of Italy on your trip to this beautiful country; the finest wines, cheeses and foods can be found on this stunning peninsula. Explore the ancient Roman Empire, from the Colosseum to the Pantheon. Tour the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Lake Como, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and the Canals of Venice, or head into the Mediterranean, checking out all of the beautiful, untouched isles. A drive along the Amalfi Coast is a must do. There is great hiking on well-marked trails and hanging out on the beach is always an option to while away a surface interval.

Getting there

If you come from abroad, flying in is the simplest option. Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport outside of Rome and Milan’s three airports – Milano Malpensa Airport, Linate Airport and Caravaggio Airport Bergamo Orio al Serio are among Italy’s busiest. You can also fly into airports like Palermo Airport on Sicily, Cagliari-Elmas Airport on Sardinia, Naples International Airport (NAP), Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport (GOA) and others. From other European destinations, traveling to Italy by train or ferry is another option. Once you inside Italy, getting around the country is best accomplished by taxi or the extensive rail system.

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+39

Calling code

230 V

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FCO

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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.