Italy is one of the most romanticized and popular travel destinations in the world, and it is easy to see why. Beautiful coastal cities are dotted with colorful architecture, rich history, and the lingering aromas of the local cuisine. Cities like Florence, Naples or Rome or the villages along the Amalfi Coast invoke day dreams of slow mornings in the cafe watching the world pass by in complete bliss.
But, Italy has more to offer than just romance and gelato. Bordered by the Adriatic, Ionian, and Tyrrhenian Seas, Italy is nearly surrounded by water. With over 350 picturesque islands, it is a waterman paradise! We will tell you everything you need to know about freediving in Italy; it’s up to you to go see it.
Useful Information for Freediving in Italy
Freediving is nothing new to the shores of Italy. Record-setting freedivers and leaders in the sport, like Enzo Maiorca, the first person to dive below 100 meters (328 feet) in organized competition, have ensured that Italy will be known for freediving for decades to come.
Most travelers here arrive on a 90-day tourist visa, but should you fall in love with the country, you can apply for a one-year long-stay visa. The average cost for room and board is 100 Euros per day on the low side, but that cost can quickly and easily reach over 350 Euros per day, if you want ocean views and room service. Most dive boats charge 50 to 80 Euros for a half day of freediving, depending on gear rentals and the distance to the dive location. Make sure to bring a rain shell or windbreaker to keep to warm to and from the dive sites.
The Best Time to Freedive in Italy
The temperate waters of the Mediterranean make freediving possible any time of year. However, the best conditions are found from April to October. While the coastal waters are warm, many of the best dive locations are found just offshore. A good dive suit is highly recommended to ensure you can spend the day on the boat shiver-free. July and August are the height of summer here with the warmest water temperatures peaking at around 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit).
Travel within the country is inexpensive, allowing divers to reach several different zones on a single trip, if they wish. With such diverse diving, from wrecks and caves to reefs and blue water pelagic dives, you might find yourself tempted to see it all.
The Best Freediving Areas in Italy
While you can freedive all around Italy, there are a few areas you shouldn’t miss.
The Christ of the Abyss
Erected in 1954 by Duilio Marcante in memory of his friend Dario Gonzatti, this massive bronze memorial rests at 17 meters (56 feet) and is a world-famous icon. The statue represents Jesus Christ opening his arms upwards in the sign of invocation. It is now a monument dedicated to those lost at sea. Every year, on the last Saturday of July, a ceremony commemorates those who dedicated their lives to the sea.
Since it has gained popularity, many other locations have copied the statue, but this is the original. The site of the Cristo degli Abissi is very easy to dive, as it is not too deep and is protected from the currents. For this reason, many snorkelers and freedivers visit the site.
Parco Sommerso di Baia
Caused by a massive land shift called Bradyseism, which makes the ground move vertically, up or down, an entire Roman compound found itself plunged into the sea. The Submerged Park of Baia is the underwater version of Pompeii. There are not many places in the world where it is possible to dive into the structures and streets of an ancient city. Villa a Protiro is an undoubted highlight of the park. The villa has a large black-and-white geometrical mosaic floor that is in nearly perfect condition.
Dive conditions here can vary and large currents or swells will disturb the sandy bottom, making for poor visibility, but on calm days, it can be magnificent. If you find Italy on your travel list, make sure to visit this site as there are none like it in the world.
To read more about discovering the underwater city of Baia check out: Exploring the Underwater Archaeological Park of Baia on the PADI blog.
Cheap inter-country travel, beautiful scenery, and being surrounded by the magical Mediterranean will threaten to keep you freediving in Italy for much longer than your travel visa might permit. Just try and remember that Italy has more to offer than just fantastic freediving. The cities, people, and history here make up a rich and fantastic culture that just begs to be absorbed.