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Italy borders above all on the sea, it can be reached quite easily from any city on the peninsula, we are used to feeling surrounded by the waters of the Mediterranean and it is rare for anyone to count how many are the Italian seas. It is one of those notions of geography that, if not learned at school, are not part of people's normal curiosity, yet it is an excellent opportunity to get an overview of our coasts and discover their variety and richness.
Unlike other countries, which are also almost totally, or even totally, immersed in the sea, Italy has a very interesting geography thanks to its jagged shape which also creates diversity in the waters that surround it and bathe its coasts. 7,456 kilometers of coastline beloved by tourists from all over the world to which we must be able to explain our seas and their different beauties.
How many are the Italian seas
The answer to this question is univocal, at least on this point there are no different interpretations and not even a North South division of the boot. We all agree that the seas that bathe the Italian coasts are 6. There is the Adriatic from Trieste to Bari, it bathes not only the Italian coasts but also those of the Balkan countries, it is recognized because it is one of the few to be closed and not particularly deep.
There is the Ionian that bathes Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria and Eastern Sicily, borders the Adriatic on one side and on the other merges its water with those of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the two meet in Strait of Messina. However, near Sicily we also find the Sea of Sicily that bathes the southern coasts reaching up to the North of Africa, especially those of Tunisia. Let's move on to the Tyrrhenian Sea which bathes everyone from Sicily the eastern coasts of our peninsula going up to Tuscany, then it leaves the passage to the Ligurian Sea. The sixth Sea is the Sardinian Sea, west of the island.
Now we retrace the coasts, redoing the tour from Trieste and Ventimiglia, diving into all these seas to test their waters and characteristics.
Italian seas: Adriatic
Squeezed between two lands, not as much as the Sicilian sea, however, this sea has an average width of 150 km and in addition to Italy it bathes Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania. It is not at all deep, the Italian beaches to the west are known to be child-proof and to poor swimmers, especially to the north because going down it manages to exceed 1000 meters off Bari. It is a very closed basin, obviously, and this her particular conformation it also affects the winds that manage to blow from the south or north in a rather intense way. Another peculiar phenomenon is that of high water in Venice.
Italian seas: Ionian
Around the heel of our boot there is the Ionian Sea, intent on bathing the coasts of Puglia, Basilicata and southern Calabria up to those of western Sicily. Even this sea is not only Italian and reaches Albania and Greece. Unlike the Adriatic it is quite deep, also reaches 4,000 meters deep, and is connected to the Adriatic through the Otranto channel.
Italian seas: of Sicily
Although small, it is a sea symbolically of enormous importance, often entered in the news also due to the Strait of Messina. It is an important fraction of water also for the entire Mediterranean Sea because it separates the one considered eastern from the western one, it also unites Sicily with North Africa and unfortunately there are in its waters several corpses of people who try to reach Italy to escape the terrible situations they found themselves living in their countries of origin. There is in the Sicilian Sea Pantelleria, the southernmost point of our country, located just 145 kilometers from Tunisia.
Italian seas: Tyrrhenian
Not the Adriatic but the Tyrrhenian it is the largest Italian sea and is the largest even among all the Mediterranean basins. It starts from the coasts of northern Sicily and bathes all the western Italian ones up to Tuscany as well as the eastern ones of the two islands, Corsica and Sardinia. It is quite deep, it does not reach the Ionian record but reaches -3,800 meters and has a very particular seabed, with several active volcanoes, like Marsili.
Italian seas: Ligurian
Wet Liguria and its coasts, it already begins in northern Tuscany, in Piombino, and reaches the Ligurian border with France. Among the islands it reaches there is Corsica and the Island of Elba.
Italian seas: of Sardinia
It is the sea that bathes the Strait of Bonifacio through which it communicates with the Tyrrhenian Sea. A strip of water that separates Sardinia and Corsica. And the sea westernmost of all of Italy and limits itself to wet the western part of Sardinia from which it bears its name.
Italian seas and the Mediterranean Sea
Now that we have divided the part that surrounds Italy, discovering how many Italian seas there are, let's find out how this large basin is divided internationally. From the topographical point of view, two areas can be distinguished, the Western Mediterranean, up to the channel of Sicily, and then the Eastern Mediterranean. The first has large abyssal plains while the second is crossed by the variegated system of the Mediterranean ridge.
The western Mediterranean has an area of around 240,000 square km and reaches a maximum depth of around 2 800 meters. There deepest part of the Western Mediterranean is the one that coincides with the Tyrrhenian Sea where it reaches 3800 m depth, not surprisingly it is called Fossa del Tirreno. Through the Sicilian channel you can pass to the Eastern Mediterranean which includes the Adriatic Sea, the Ionian Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Libyan Sea and the Levant Sea basin. It has a smaller surface, "only" than 135 000 sq km, and a maximum depth of 1 230 meters while the minimum is between Ancona and the Gargano, in correspondence with the depression known as the “mid-Adriatic pit” (266 m).