THE MEDIA VOICE OF THE GLOBAL MARINA INDUSTRY

The big boat picture in southern Italy

Southern Italy and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily have a charm and culture all of their own and have long been favoured tourist destinations. But translating this enthusiasm to nautical tourism has been less easy, especially with regard to the largest yachts. Donatella Zucca explores marinas with superyacht facilities.

IGY Marina di Portisco with 41 superyacht berths in its mix, is one of the best marinas in Sardinia.

IGY Marina di Portisco with 41 superyacht berths in its mix, is one of the best marinas in Sardinia.

There are around 780 ports and landings scattered around the Italian coastline offering 160,000 moorings. Most are located in northern Italy and on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast. Only 85 of the 780 can be classified as real marinas, delivering a total of 44,000 full-service berths.
Although Italy is a world leader in the production of large yachts and offers high-level repair and refit, its marinas lack moorings and infrastructure for yachts of 45 to 100m+ (148 to 330ft+). This is especially obvious in the south where, if they exist, they are often under utilised despite the fact that, depending on the season, larger yachts tend to head to the Mediterranean or the Caribbean and Italy is in the heart of the Med.
As in many places, there are disappointing non-starters. Porto di Licata in Sicily, for example, despite being very beautiful, is used only minimally, and by small boats, due to an industrial development plan that never took off. Another example is the New Port of Crotone in Calabria. With its large water area and considerable water depths, it could accommodate vessels in excess of 200m (660ft) but for various reasons it is little used.
The financial incentive for developing superyacht berths is considerable. “On average, each superyacht visit brings around €11,000 per day to the area and 100m [330ft] of dedicated quayside can generate over €20 million per year,” says Paolo Viola, head of marinas and waterfront for WIP Architects. WIP Architects has thus devised a project for the recovery of disused or abandoned commercial ports, suitably sized for large yachts and mostly aimed at local authorities, sector operators and administrations able to initiate investment via the National Plan of Recovery and Resilience (PNRR). Infrastructure ripe for mooring yachts of 40 to 100m (131 to 330ft) can be found in Gallipoli and Barletta, for example.
Regardless of ambitious project ideas, the Italian south and its islands show courage and vision – and some definite highlights.
While Marina di Porto Cervo in Costa Smeralda (Sardinia) with its 60 berths for yachts up to 100m (330ft) sits at the pinnacle as a match with St Tropez for glamour, glitz and fame, other southern marinas have made a notable mark. Marina di Portisco, always one of the best Sardinian marinas and now part of the Island Global Yachting (IGY) network, is a prime example. The marina has 589 berths, including 41 for superyachts up to 90m (295ft). It is one of few in the area able to host such large vessels, thanks to its 10m (33ft) water depth, and it has built on this with wide-ranging dining and retail offerings, repair and refit services etc. It has three charging stations for electric cars and marina vehicles, ecological waste collection islands, and – new for the season – the Mercedes-Benz Luxury Hub with fully electric Mercedes EQ cars.
Porto Xifonia in Augusta has all the credentials for becoming one of the finest tourist ports in the Mediterranean.

Porto Xifonia in Augusta has all the credentials for becoming one of the finest tourist ports in the Mediterranean.

Also in Costa Smeralda is the eco-friendly Cala dei Sardi in the Gulf of Cugnana (next to Marina di Cugnana between Porto Rotondo and Portisco). With 140 berths up to 70m (230ft), the well-protected, landscaped marina is a quiet slice of paradise with a special floating swim platform in the marina basin. It has all the hospitality and nautical offerings to be expected from a marina catering to superyachts but is one of the most affordably priced facilities in the region. This is particularly beneficial to catamaran owners who pay just 10 per cent more than a monohull owner for monthly, seasonal and annual berths.
Marina d’Arechi has a dedicated superyacht quay for 60 yachts of 32 to 100m (105 to 330ft).

Marina d’Arechi has a dedicated superyacht quay for 60 yachts of 32 to 100m (105 to 330ft).

Moving south into the port of Cagliari, Portus Karalis Marina stands alone as the only marina in this area of the island capable of hosting yachts above 90m (295ft). The marina has 118 berths and all essential services and, with its location in the heart of the city and the Mediterranean, it is ideally positioned for stopovers en route to the south of France and Spain. The facility is managed by the Marina di Porto Rotondo Group, owned by the Molinas family that manages various nautical and tourist-based concerns in Sardinia including Marina di Porto Rotondo, Marina di Punta Marana, Marina di Cala Bitta, Bosa Marina, three storage yards, and a five-star and four-star hotel.
In Sicily, the offering for large yachts is more complex and less rich and there is little desire to develop infrastructure further. The best examples are Marina di Riposto (Porto dell’Etna) and Porto Xifonio in Augusta. “The past season ended very well, there was a large influx of boats, ranging from 8m (26ft) to maxi yacht size,” Marzia Crimi, head of front office at Marina di Riposto told Marina World. “Our central pier can accommodate boats up to a maximum of 75m [246ft] and this summer we had 212 transient yachts (as of 31st August 2022) of 30 to 70m [98 to 230ft], which is more or less equivalent to 25 per cent. We do not have permanent contracts for vessels of 40m [131ft] and above but only for boats of 8 to 20m [26 to 66ft].”
The marina location has strong seafaring links and is in a particularly beautiful area near Taormina, Alcantara Gorges and Mount Etna. With a total of 380 moorings and infrastructure for vessels up to 80m [262ft], the marina also has a shipyard and maintenance shed.
A newly opened marina, Stabia Main Port can accept gigayachts (up to 250m/820ft) due to its deep water and  generous harbour entrance.

A newly opened marina, Stabia Main Port can accept gigayachts (up to 250m/820ft) due to its deep water and generous harbour entrance.

Marina Porto Xifonia in Augusta has all the credentials for becoming one of the finest tourist ports in the Mediterranean. Generously sized and with a large marina basin, it is an ideal starting point for a voyage to Malta, Greece, North Africa, the Aeolian and Egadi islands. Augusta itself has important history, nearby Syracuse is famous for its beauty, and the Etna volcano is a permanent tourist draw. The marina can host 245 boats, accommodating vessels up to 60m (197ft). Four 50m (164ft) vessels can be moored up at the same pier. Boatyard facilities are extensive and well-equipped and the superyacht docks have private access and parking spaces. A spa, solarium, gym and swimming pool are located on the breakwater.
If only for its location, it is a must to mention the tourist port of Capri in Marina Grande when thinking of southern Italy. Positioned on the north side of the island in a wonderful natural inlet, Port of Capri has 300 berths and capacity for 60m (197ft) yachts.
Looking across the water and a little east to Salerno, we find the top tourist spots of Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento and Ravello, and Marina d’Arechi, which has an entire quay capable of mooring 60 yachts of 32 to 100m (105 to 330ft).
The marina has 34ha (84 acres) of water space protected by a natural stone breakwater and, with around 1,000 berths, it markets itself as a base for large boats. The marina’s new service company, MDA Yachting & Lifestyle, has given impetus to investment aimed at the superyacht sector. The nearby Salerno (Costa d’Amalfi) airport specialises in private flights and has a new helipad offering shuttle connections to Capri and Ischia, and airports in Rome and Naples. A recently inaugurated events area and the Sunset Lounge terrace overlooking the Amalfi coast are both popular with customers, and the barbecue area is appreciated by crew.
Marina del Gargano in the Gulf of Manfredonia covers an area of 27ha (67 acres) and has 700 berths. Upon request, vessels as long as 60m (197ft) can be accommodated.

Marina del Gargano in the Gulf of Manfredonia covers an area of 27ha (67 acres) and has 700 berths. Upon request, vessels as long as 60m (197ft) can be accommodated.

Marina d’Arechi offers seasonal packages for everyone. Purchase of ‘Twenty’, for example, delivers a berth for 20 years at reduced cost and, as the marina has ‘resort’ status, a reduced VAT rate of 10 per cent is given on short-term moorings.
New to the area is Stabia Main Port Marina. With 9m (29ft 6in) water depths and a harbour entrance over 60m (197ft) wide, it can accept gigayachts up to 250m (820ft) in length. “The 2022 tourist season gave great satisfaction, with large yachts with internationally renowned guests calling in. Vessels over 100m [330ft] have chosen Stabia Main Port as their only landing point in the Mediterranean, and for megayacht services and the local tourism opportunities,” said marketing and port facilities director Luisa del Sorbo. The marina, which opened six years ago at the centre of Castellammare di Stabia, has resort status.
Further south, the stand-out facility is Marina del Gargano in the Gulf of Manfredonia. Ideal for cruising on to Greece, Montenegro and Croatia, and just steps away from the historic city centre, the marina covers an area of 27ha (67 acres) and has 700 berths. The mooring plan accommodates boats of 50m (164ft) in length but 60m (197ft) vessels can moor up on request. In addition to a fully-equipped shipyard, there are two commercial areas with bars, restaurants and shops.
“Particular attention is given to the environment,” explained port director Andrea Zullo. “We are equipped with several charging stations for electric vehicles and boats, and have a water recirculation and pump-out system.”

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