Italy’s coastline is among the longest in the whole world, spanning an enormous 7600 km. What makes Italy even more exciting for scuba diving enthusiasts is the fact that it is completely surrounded the Mediterranean from its eastern shores to its western shores. Italy is world renowned for its fantastic seafood treats as well as the gorgeous northern Lake District and coastline that spans the Adriatic Sea. Italy is a great choice for scuba divers regardless of age or skill level.
When travellers consider Italy as a destination it is unlikely that scuba diving would be the first activity to come to mind – usually there are thoughts of food, architectural delights and a rich history and culture that of course are all worth exploring.
Italy does offer some great scuba diving destinations and it also boasts a colorful underwater history steeped in myth and legend which makes scuba diving here all the more exciting. Free diving in Italy has been dated back to 3200 BC and in modern times Italy’s own Enzo Maiorca made history by holding many of the world records for free diving. When it comes to non-recreational diving, it is rumored that Alexander the Great made use of the first ever diving bells to aid his underwater military strategies and during WWII divers formed a large force when considering Italy’s military approaches.
Diving in Italy
For the modern day recreational diver, Italy offers a wide variety of underwater experiences – divers could have the chance to explore military vessels, tropical reefs and even dive in sinkholes and volcanoes.
When it comes to ship wrecks, Italy has a number of military vessels – everything from submarines to destroyers – that all have pieces of history to reveal. The islands of Sardinia and Sicily boast clean, clear waters with tropical reef life and a wide variety of vibrant marine creatures to get to know. Just off the Sicillian coastline divers have the chance to dive a volcano, the Ferdinandea, which stretches 400 meters down and boasts an array of unusual marine life as well as colorful corals. If you’re after something a little different, head to the Pozzo del Merro, the world’s deepest sinkhole which lies fairly near the shores of Rome.
Many of Italy’s endless dive sites are easily reached from the coast, and with scuba diving being a year-round sport, there are an unlimited number of dive operators to help arrange transportation and offer tips. The best time to dive in Italy is likely between April and December, and the surrounding waters of the Ionian Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, Ligurian Sea and the Adriatic are all great destinations to explore.
Scuba diving in Italy is suited for beginners and advanced divers and offers everything from deep wrecks to drift diving. Thanks to Italy’s long and thin shape, it’s easy to travel from one coastline to the other and experience all that this great European diving destination has to offer. It is also possible to dive inland in Italy at some of the freshwater sites.
Located to the west of the mainland coast is the Island of Sardinia, a scuba diver’s paradise with drift dives ideally suited for beginners as well as reef dives for all levels. For a truly unique experience where not many have ventured, visit La Galleria on the north eastern shore of Sardinia’s coastline – a system of caves that have yet to be fully explored. Although diving alone is certainly discouraged, groups of advanced divers will be taken as far in as the first few underwater caves where they might see sea fans, eels, large groupers and octopi hiding in the dark passages.
For fresh water diving, Lake Garda is a very popular spot that lies right between Milan and Venice. Il Cristo di Riva del Garda is a dive site on the northern edge of Lake Garda that tends to bring divers from all over the globe. Divers descend to around 35 meters and will have the chance to see large shoals of trout, burbot, pike and possibly also eels with visibility of at least 10 meters.
For those wanting to combine magnificent Italian history with great Italian scuba diving, visit the city of Baia, a sunken city near Naples. In Italian, this flooded city is known as Parco Sommerso di Baia and it lies in a protected park within a bay to the south of Rome. Buildings, statues and columns are all impressively intact at the bottom of the sea and are a unique sight to see outside of the regular reefs and corals. The sunken city boasts the opportunity for divers to explore impressive villas complete with mosaic floors, which once belonged to Roman Emperors. A visit to the underwater city of Baia is simply a must-do with scuba diving in Italy!
Dive centers in Italy
Arranging to dive in Italy is very easy to do thanks to diving operators located along the coastline, and also inland around the northern lake region. Most dive shops specialize in certain types of trips based on their location and many will offer courses and training too.
How to get to Italy
Italy offers a number of international airports, all of which will have a number of domestic flight options too, making travelling around the country relatively easy.