When I imagine the perfect beach, I picture sunny Italy. There are plenty of options to choose from. Besides the multitude of sandy Mediterranean coves and the glorious sweep of Adriatic beaches you’ll see in glossy brochures, there are numerous white and golden beaches along Italy’s Ionian coast.
The islands of Sicily and Sardinia have many more. Visit the Maddalena Islands anchored off Sardinia and you’ll even find a pink sand beach, la Spiaggia Rosa…
One of my favorites is in the Basilicata region, on the Ionian coast at Lido di Metaponto. Not far from the city of Matera and its extraordinary ancient cave homes, its golden beach stretches for miles. Like all of Italy’s deep south, it was once part of Graecia Magna, or Greater Greece, so there are the ruins of an ancient Greek colony waiting to be explored if you tire of the beach.
For the passegiata—the evening stroll traditional here—there’s a seafront promenade. The bars and fish restaurants on the promenade are inexpensive and pitched at ordinary Italian families. You’ll get a mean spaghetti and fresh clams dinner with a carafe of house wine for around $12 to $15.
Or stop for an ice cream—or gelato as it’s called in Italy. After a day at the beach, nothing beats stopping off at a gelateria to indulge. My own favorite flavors are pistachio and nocciola (hazelnut), but freshly-made artisanal ice cream comes in a bewildering variety of choices. Expect to pay from $2.50 to $5.50, depending on location and how hungry you are.
If you want to buy property in Europe, Italy is affordable. One recent listing in Lido di Metaponto was a two-bedroom apartment in a residential complex (with stores and restaurants) with access to a central swimming pool. It offered a veranda and a private roof terrace with views of the surrounding countryside. The listing price was $151,000.
Alternatively, a three-bedroom, detached, holiday house is available for $106,500. It’s fully furnished and close to the sea.
Great beaches, affordable property, and the best ice cream: Italy offers you a lot of choice for your retirement dollar.