The bodies of the migrants were found on a tourist beach in Sicily near the island's largest city of Catania, a port official said.
Italian media reported that the migrants had drowned trying to reach the shore after the fishing boat they were traveling in ran aground some 15 meters (50 feet) from the beach.
More than 100 other migrants are reported to have been "transferred" after making it to the beach and trying to flee on land.
The coast guard captain of Catania, Roberto D'Arrigo, told Sky Italia television that most of the migrants were from Syria and Egypt.
Another boat carrying about 90 migrants arrived safely on the southeast coast of Sicily on Saturday.
Many migrants have died attempting to cross from Africa to Europe in boats that are often barely seaworthy. The number of boats trying to reach Europe has increased in recent days as the weather improves and the sea becomes calmer.
The United Nations refugee agency reports that almost 8,000 migrants and asylum seekers landed on the coasts of southern Italy in the first half of this year, most arriving from North Africa.
tj/hc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)