Forte dei Marmi is a seaside town in Versilia, northern Tuscany, famous for its tourism and for being the holiday destination of many VIPs. To understand just how important tourism is in Forte dei Marmi, just think that during the summer the population nearly triples! Tourists, mainly coming from inland Tuscany, Northern Italy, Northern Europe and Russia, can relax in Forte dei Marmi on the long sandy beaches and do some shopping in the exclusive designer boutiques (but don’t worry, there is also a weekly flea market!). The name literally means means “Fort of the marbles”. Let’s see the main attractions of Forte dei Marmi. What to see and do in Forte dei Marmi The “fortino” (the fortress): Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo de’ Medici founded Forte dei Marmi at the end of the eighteenth century. It was designed to fulfil two functions: customs and defence. The construction of the “fortino” dates back to the second half of the eighteenth century. The fort now accommodates the Satire and Caricature Museum and the local post office and it is open to visitors. The pier: Forte dei Marmi’s pier has ancient origins. In fact, it was used to load ships with the big blocks of marble from the Apuane mountains. The history of Forte dei Marmi starts here: a small town of fishermen and sailors quickly grew up around the area and added to the marble industry. Now the pier is a place where local surfers go to catch some waves. The beaches: Forte Dei Marmi was one of the first beach resorts in Italy: at the end of nineteenth century, royalty and rich people started to spend their holidays in Forte (as locals call the city). The sand is golden and fine, the sea is calm and clean, and you can find an array of amenities in the bathing establishments. The promenade: In Forte dei Marmi there is a wonderful waterfront promenade that is paved and flat. It is perfect for all-family bike rides, strollers and roller-blade skating. The Museum of Satire and Caricatures: It has become a conservation, collection and research centre on the history of satire and caricatures from all over the world. The Museum features original drawings of both contemporary and past artists, a specialised library with more than 2500 volumes, a video library and a multimedia archive. It also organizes exhibitions on both contemporary and past satire. Flea Market: Forte Dei Marmi is a shoppers’ paradise, especially for those who have a very full wallet! Anyway, apart from the exclusive boutiques, there is a famous flea market that opens every Wednesday from 8am to 2.30pm in Piazza Macroni near the city centre. The interesting thing is that everything has bargain prices. During the summer this market is open even on Sundays. Sant’Ermete Church: The church of Sant'Ermete is a holy building dedicated to Sant'Ermete the martyr. The small church was erected at the place where the marble blocks intended for boarding were once stored. It was enlarged and transformed into its current form during the nineteenth century. Villa Bertelli: It is a villa of the late nineteenth century situated in Vittoria Apuana, part of the town of Forte dei Marmi. A restoration that took place recently allowed the house to regain its glory and today it is managed by the Foundation Villa Bertelli, organizing events, shows, concerts and exhibitions. In addition… Forte dei Marmi allows you to do a lot of activities such as bike riding, tennis, golf and horseback riding, and it is a perfect base for many day trips in the surroundings. Highlights include Pisa and its iconic tower; Lucca, famous for its architecture and medieval walls; and the Antro del Corchia. Events The Palio dei Micci (Palio of the Donkeys): The city has taken part in the Palio dei Micci in Querceta (Seravezza) since 1956 on the occasion of the first edition. The Palio dei Bagni (Palio of the beach resorts): During the last week of August, lifeguards from their respective beaches compete in a boat race. It was founded in 1951. Sant'Ermete: On the occasion of the feast of the patron saint, Sant'Ermete, on the evening of August 27 there’s a tradition to light a fire in the central Piazza Garibaldi. On August 28, a large fair takes place late in the evening and there’s a fireworks display on the pier. How to reach Forte dei Marmi By car: From the A12 motorway, take the Versilia exit. From Via Aurelia drive to Querceta and, when you reach the traffic light at the crossroads with Via Federigi, proceed towards the sea. For those travelling along the coastal road: follow the signs for Forte dei Marmi. By bus: Both Clap and Lazzi buses serve Forte Dei Marmi. By train: Get off at the Querceta station.