08/15/2011 12:00 pm ET

Destin-Nation Italy: Best Beaches Along the Mediterranean's Boot (PHOTOS)

It may not be tropical, but Italy is surrounded by the temperate Mediterranean, making for beautiful beaches up and down its three coasts.

Add in the shorelines of Sardinia and Sicily, the country's two largest islands, and it's easily one of the world's greatest beach destinations. (Bonus points for the readily available fresh fish and chilled white wine.)

High season is late summer, when whole cities decamp to the shore and beach chairs sell for a premium-if you're lucky enough to find one vacant. Early summer is a better time to visit, when the water has warmed up but before the crowds descend.

Thanks to a surfeit of regional airports and an excellent rail systems (the trains sometimes run on time) getting to and around Italy is also a fairly early. The Italian attitude, which is at times excruciatingly relaxed, can be frustrating, but chances are that if you get stuck you'll wind up someplace charming.

Photo: simo0082/Flickr

Italy's Beaches