Images: shutterstock/Citalia

If the thought of an Italian beach conjures up images of row upon row of sun loungers and parasols, it’s time to think again, says leading Italian specialist Citalia. And to prove its point, it has come up with five homegrown beaches that could hold their own against some of the world’s finest.

Chia beach, above, in southern Sardinia, is one of Italy’s best. The light gold sands enjoy a backdrop of protected dunes and juniper trees, which also offer the beach a little shelter. Seven nights’ half board at the Chia Laguna Resort costs from £907 per person, including return flights, based on 16 May departures.Furore beach, halfway between Amalfi and Positano, is just 25m long. It’s set within one of Italy’s only fjords, overlooked by towering rocks and lined with pastel-coloured fishermen’s cottages. Just along the coast, Arienzo Beach offers deep turquoise waters and views of the Amalfi Coast’s most glamorous beachfront villas. Five nights’ B&B at the three-star plus Hotel La Conca Azzurra in Conca dei Marini and five nights’ half board at the three-star plus Hotel Royal Positano costs from £1,289 per person including return flights, based on 2 May 2018 departures.Sicily’s San Vito Lo Capo beach is celebrated for its Caribbean-like shallow waters. The beach is not only pretty, but is located next to San Vito Lo Capo town with its restaurants and shops. Three nights’ B&B at the four-star Baglio La Porta Di San Gerardo in San Vito Lo Capo and four nights’ all inclusive at the four-star Hotel Fiesta Garden Beach in Cefalu costs from £1,089 per person, including return flights, based on 17 May 2018 departures.The Calabria coastline is known as the ‘Coast of the Gods’. Located beneath the Santa Maria dell’Isola monastery, Tropea beach offers Caribbean-style white sands flanked by mountain views. It has excellent facilities, watersports and is just a short walk from Tropea town. Four nights’ B&B at the four-star Hotel Tirreno in Tropea and three nights’ B&B at the four-star Grand Hotel Masseria Santa Lucia in Ostuni costs from £949 per person, including car hire and return flights, based on 1 June 2018 departures.Unspoilt Punta Prosciutto beach in Puglia boasts some of the clearest waters this side of the Indian Ocean, with a backdrop of golden sand dunes. A 40-minute drive south from Lecce means that it’s a little off the tourist trail, yet within easy reach on a day trip from the historic baroque city. Four nights’ B&B at the five-star Risorgimento Resort in Lecce and four nights’ B&B at the four-star Ostuni Rosa Marina Resort costs from £945 per person, including car hire and return flights, based on 4 September departures.