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Forte dei Marmi: a seaside town in the Versilia

The exclusive town in northern Tuscany hides a wealth of history and bargain hunting

Forte dei Marmi is a seaside town in the Versilia, in northern Tuscany, famous for its tourism and for being the preferred 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 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!). So what should you see during your time in this exclusive beachside town? Here are some of our suggestions. 

The “fortino,” or fortress is an interesting site for history buffs.Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo de’ Medici founded Forte dei Marmi at the end of the 18th century to fulfil two functions, customs and defence, and the “fortino” dates to this period. Nowadays, it’s home to the Satire and Caricature Museum and the local post office. The museum has become a conservation, collection and research centre on the history of satire and caricatures from all over the world, and features original drawings by both past and contemporary artists. It also boasts a library with more than 2,500 volumes, a video library and a multimedia archive, and stages temporary exhibitions about the world of satire.

Forte dei Marmi pier at sunset
Forte dei Marmi pier at sunset - Credit: marco

You can also take a walk along the pier, which boasts rather historic origins. It was historically used to load ships with the large blocks of marble from the Apuan mountains. The history of Forte dei Marmi starts here: a small town of fishermen and sailors quickly grew around the area and added to the marble industry. Now the pier is a place where local surfers go to catch some waves.

If you’re looking for a holiday spent on the beach, then Forte Dei Marmi is the place for you. The town was one of the first beach resorts in Italy: at the end of 19th century, royalty and rich people started to spend their holidays in Forte, thanks in no small part to the golden, fine sand, the calm, clean sea and the array of amenities in the bathing establishments. In the evening, why not walk along the wonderful waterfront promenade? It’s the perfect place for a bike ride with the family, strollers and roller-blading.

Mountains behind Forte dei Marmi
Mountains behind Forte dei Marmi - Credit: marco monetti

Despite its exclusive boutiques, Forte dei Marmi is also a shoppers’ paradise for bargain hunters, with a famous flea market open every Wednesday from 8am to 2.30pm in piazza Macroni. The market is even extended to Sundays during the summer season. We also suggest visiting the Church of Sant’Ermete, as well as Villa Bertelli, a 19th-century residence situated in the Vittoria Apuana neighbourhood that regularly organizes events, shows, concerts and exhibitions.

For those interested in Forte dei Marmi’s local traditions, we recommend the Palio dei Micci, or donkeys, which has been run in Querceta since 1956, and the Palio dei Bagni, a boat race with lifeguards from their respective beaches during the last week of August. There is also the tradition of lighting a fire in piazza Garibaldi on the evening of August 27 for the eve of the feast of the town’s patron saint St. Hermes. On August 28, a large fair takes place late in the evening and there’s a firework display on the pier.

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Art and Culture