Beach + Island

Natural Swimming Holes Around the World



Adriatic Sea: Roca Vecchia, Italy

According to legend, a stunning muse once bathed in this constellation of limestone pools, known ever since as the Grotta della Poesia (Grotto of Poetry). To bards from miles around, both lady and lagoon were an inexhaustible source of inspiration; one of them still is. Summer visitors to Puglia’s Salento Peninsula flock to these Adriatic waters, 15 miles east of Lecce (dubbed the Florence of the South for its superabundance of more-is-more Baroque monuments). Stay at the Patria Palace Hotel, a 67-room eighteenth-century aristocratic mansion opposite the Basilica di Santa Croce (39-08-322-45111; doubles from $270). At Roca Vecchia, dive into the Italian beach scene. When you’ve had your fill of sun, sand, and the requisite ledge-jumping, head two miles south to the seaside town of Torre dell’Orso to cool off with a gelato at Pasticceria Dentoni (Piazza della Chiesa). But resist (if you can) the bakery’s warm cornetti—it is, after all, swimsuit season.

Water Temperature this Month: 75°

What to Wear: When in Italy... a Missoni bikini or Prada trunks, of course!

You'll Share the Water with: Blooms of gentle rhizostome jellyfish, which appear during the summer months. Fear not: They rarely sting.

Photograph by Massimo Vitali

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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