Yachting in Italy: A captain, owner, guest and crew guide
Last updated: 29/06/2017
Set at the heart of the Mediterranean, Italy is a romantic yachting destination of astounding natural beauty. The coastline is bursting with beautiful towns and capacious marinas, offering plenty of marine facilities and space for the world’s superyacht fleet, perfected by glimpses of some of the most beautiful Mediterranean landscapes.
Visiting Italy aboard a superyacht
When to visit Italy
As a thriving part of Europe with a typically Mediterranean climate, superyachts usually tend to flock to the waters of Italy throughout the summer months of April and October, when the climate and temperature is generally more stable.
January is commonly known to be the coldest month with temperatures dipping as low as -4°C in the north, and July and August are the warmest months, heating up to 32°C to 42°C.
Where to visit in Italy
The most popular yachting destinations in Italy are set down the west coast, and include Amalfi, Portofino, Portovenere, Porto Cervo and Capri, largely due to their outstanding natural beauty, unique charm and capable marine infrastructure.
According to Med Yacht Services, “In all these places, we can find any kind of attractions, from beautiful beaches, breathtaking views, natural parks, museums and historic architecture. All of these are worth being visited by guests as well as crew.”
Amalfi and the Amalfi Coast
The charismatic town of Amalfi is a picture-perfect yachting and tourism destination, set at the centre of its namesake coast - historically as well as geographically. As such, many of its sights are historic in their very nature. Agents at Med Yacht Services recommend visits to the Sant’Andrea Cathedral, Chiostro del Paradiso, Paper Museum and ceramic factories in Vietri sul Mare.
Michela Chisea at Med Yacht Services said, “Piazza del Duomo marks the very heart of the town. Many attractions are littered around the Piazza, including Amalfi’s very own cathedral (Duomo). During the summer season, this historic square is bustling with people and edged with cafés, whose tables spill out onto the pavement so that diners can enjoy the sunshine.”
Beyond Amalfi, visitors far and wide enjoy this famous stretch of coastline, well known for its natural beauty and resorts. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stretch of Campanian Coast includes 13 towns, including blogger favourite, Positano.
Positano is a beautiful beach town, world famous for the colourful buildings that line its tiny winding roads, and its gastronomy. Recommended visits include the Church of Santa Maria Assunta for its spiritual calm, and Music on the Rocks for its exclusive club nights and breathtaking views.
Set between Amalfi and Positano, the fiord of Furore is another Amalfi gem, taking its name from the sound of the sea pounding against the valley below. In this natural harbor, the ‘Borgo’ fishermen’s houses cling to the cliffside.
Li Galli Islands
In the stretch of sea opposite Positano, you can see three small islands called Lungo, Castelluccio and La Rotonda called Li Galli as their rocks for a small crest. These are protected areas and yachts must take care to stay within the buoys.
The areas around the rocks of Vetara and Vervece are also natural reserves. In these areas the sailing, access and stopping of any boat, bathing, diving and fishing is forbidden.
Forming the ‘heel’ of Italy’s boat, the region of Puglia on Italy’s southeast coast, is well known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries old farmland and hundreds of kilometers of coastline. Must-visit towns here include the capital Bari, and the neighbourhoods of Monti District and Aia Piccola in Alberobello. In these districts, all buildings are shaped in the typically 'trullo' structure, consisting of a central room with arches off into the other rooms of the building. This includes homes, shops, bars and restaurants, many of which can be visited. Monti District has an area of 15 hectares, with more than a thousand trulli. Yacht berthing in the region can be found at Brindisi.
Superyacht berthing: Ports and marinas in Italy
Italy boasts around 8,000 ports and marinas, but not all of these are equipped to deal with the demands of large superyachts. As such those that are are often extremely oversubscribed!
The cost and availability of superyacht berthing in Italy, like most ports and marinas, varies across the country. Michela explained, “Berthing costs really do vary depending on several factors, such as the marina size, location and facilities, as well as the availability and demand of berthing. For this reason, it is very difficult to estimate an average price for mooring in Italy.”
Of course, it's recommended that captains plan well in advance of the peak summer season in order to secure berthing in the guest’s chosen destinations. A good yacht agent can usually help to facilitate short-notice berthing requests where possible.
Agents at Med Yacht Services explained that the Port of Amalfi's Coppola Marina Dock has five berths for yachts over 30m LOA, with agents recommending that visiting superyachts contact the marina directly to ensure the facility is suitable ahead of arrival.
Luca Zaffoni at Anchor Shipping Agents S.r.l. explained the Marina di Loano (max. 90m LOA) and Marina di Varazze (max. 50m LOA) are great facilities to secure berthing before or after French and Ligurian events, such as the Monaco Yacht Show and Grand Prix, as well as between charters. He also gave Marina Genova Aeroporto as a great marina, thanks to its close connection to the airport and main highways.
Yacht fuel bunkering
Agents at Med Yacht Services explained that almost all of the marinas in Italy have on-site fuel stations in which all boats and yachts can refuel, but it’s also easy to arrange for bunkering lorries to deliver fuel at the yacht’s mooring or berth. “This practice is surely the most convenient and preferred, because, in some cases, the boat does not have to move from its berth. It is also possible to provide high quantities of fuel in this situation.”
There are three types of fuel available to yachts in Italy:
- Duty-paid fuel - Suitable for all boats
- Exportation fuel - For boats whose next port of call is within the EU
- Commercial, duty-free fuel – For commercial/charter yachts flying EU flags that are about to commence a charter or are in possession of valid documentation.
Yacht clearances, customs and cruising regulations in Italy
When clearing into the country, it is fair to say that the Italian authorities are known to be firm but fair. The Italian police will often be very careful and precise in checking guest and crew passports each time the boat enters a port, largely due to past problems and historic issues.
Clearance formalities will depend on the kind of yacht (commercial or pleasure), the yacht’s flag, gross tonnage, the nationality of guests and crew on board and the port of call.
Clearances must be organised in every port that the yacht decides to stop, but are not compulsory for yachts under 24m, or those flying an EU flag. The captain must complete, stamp and sign several documents at least 24 hours prior to arrival. These rules vary port to port, depending on the requirements set by the harbour master. Once approved, yachts are welcome to anchor or berth at their preferred location.
Firearms and temporary imports must be declared on arrival in Italy. It’s advisable to monitor VHF channel 16 when in Italian waters, as failure to respond to a call from a customs patrol could result in a stop and search operation.
All yachts must carry their original registration document, crew list, proof of VAT status, third party insurance (€5million third party insurance is required, purchased through a recognised Italian company) and ship’s radio license. Italian police will typically ask to see identification should you be approached, so it’s advisable to carry ID at all times.
It is illegal for foreign yachts to charter in Italy. Anchoring is not permitted in the Strait of Messina and there are anchoring restrictions around the Italian coast, with yachts unable to anchor within 200nm of a beach or 100m of the coastline.
Further details can be obtained from your local yacht agent.