Versilia has always been a popular destination amongst holidaymakers as it not only paves the road to the heart of the Apuan Alps but it has also established itself as an area in Italy where one can combine a beach holiday while taking a trip back in time. It is an area where tourists can not only admire the beauty of mother nature but also enjoy the buzz of urban lifestyle. Versilia is a part of Tuscany located in the north-western province of Lucca. If you are in Tuscany, you would expect to see meadows, hills and vineyards but Versilia, although a part of Tuscany has a very different vibe.
It is named after the Versilia river and runs past the slopes of the Apuan Alps and the Park of San Rossore. Versilia is famous for its long, fine-sand beaches, coastal dunes and its active nightlife. It is one of those places where you can enjoy the sunset at the beach with the Alps providing a stunning backdrop, especially in towns like Viareggio and Lido di Camaiore. The mountains sometimes give off a pinkish hue or a darker fiery tone. Tourists have the opportunity to trek on these mountains during their holiday in Versilia, along with other recreational activities like motorcycling, golf, tennis and more. One can also see panoramic views of Versilia from the national park of the Apuan Alps. The alps are also home to the Corchia Underground, which is the biggest complex of karst caves and galleries of the nation. Here you can go to the heart of the mountains and visit the stalactites gallery, quicksilver mines and the fossil forest.
Besides a wide range of places to visit, Versilia is also known for its cuisine which combines typical Tuscan food with seafood to give you fusion dishes like risotto with cuttlefish, crispy fried mixed fish or traditional dishes like Tordelli which is a type of ravioli stuffed with meat and herbs.
The region of Versilia consists of many towns and provinces, but the most visited ones are the ones that dot the coastline and have stunning resorts and beaches. These include Forte Dei Marmi, Viareggio, Marina di Pietrasanta and Lido di Camaiore, each with its own set of attractions.
Some of the most famous places of interest include exploring the artistic town of Pietrasanta which is famous worldwide for processing marble and bronze. You can find marble and mosaic workshops and art galleries all across the town along with works of contemporary and medieval art. The Opera at Torre del Lago, which is home to the Puccini festival that honours the musical maestro Giacomo Puccini, is another place which is frequented by tourists who take interest in classical music. As you drive up the mountains, you can discover little villages like Monteggiori, which has brick houses, no cars and loads of cats.
One of the most popular tourist places in Versilia is Forte Dei Marmi, where one can not only relax at the beach but also enjoy an active nightlife.
Forte Dei Marmi
Forte Dei Marmi is a sea town in the province of Lucca, located on the Tuscan coast near Viareggio. In Italian, Forte Dei Marmi translates to Fort of the Marbles. The town was originally a fortress which was built in order to protect the harbour. During the 19th and the 20th century, the fortress was used as a place to store the marbles that were quarried from the Apuane Alps. The fortress currently stands in the middle of the main square. The town’s location not only made it a strategic point to protect the harbour but also gave it a stunning backdrop of the mountain range with its white marble caps that imitate snow, with the Tyrrhenian Sea in front.
Forte Dei Marmi has been a tourist hotspot since the 18th century when the Italian rich and famous came down to enjoy the coastal weather and take a break from the city life. Today, the town is home to, Michelin star restaurants, exotic bars and numerous tourists visiting to soak in the sun.
The prime reason why people visit Forte Dei Marmi is for its calm beach where they can sit and relax under the pine trees. The beach at Forte Dei Marmi is filled with coloured huts and beach umbrellas which make it look like it is straight out of a Visconti film.
Besides relaxing at the beach, Forte Dei Marmi does have quite a bit more to offer. Some of the highlights include the La Capannina di Franceschi which is the oldest nightclub in the region and is also the oldest restaurant in the world having opened in 1929.There are a number of boutique shops in town to pamper the shopaholic in you. Italy’s most exclusive street market is hosted here every Wednesday morning from 8.00 am to 1.30 pm at the Piazza Guglielmo Marconi. The Satire and Caricature Museum, the home of the sculptor Ugo Guidi Versilia and the Church of St Ermete are interesting places to visit too.
The quarries of Carrara, which is home to Italy’s famous blue-grey and white marbles is a must visit if you are in Versilia. This is where the famous sculptor Michelangelo used to get his marbles from. The best way to explore Forte Dei Marmi is to rent a bike. There are bike paths all across town and it is an experience in itself to ride a bike along the promenade. Another possibility is to rent a car and take a day trip to the nearby towns. The nearby towns Lucca or Pisa make a great day trip. Lucca is one of the most preserved walled cities from the Renaissance era, while Pisa is famous for its leaning tower. It is also possible to hire a yacht and take a day trip to Cinque Terre and Portofino, which are famous for its medieval architecture and colourful buildings.