When you reach Versilia, you immediately realize that it is one of the favorite vacation areas of Tuscany, a holiday land that dates back to the 1800s and which is famous for its soft sandy beaches and the pine forests that are just a few steps away from them. Versilia extends for about 165 sq. km. into the province of Lucca and occupies the northwestern part of Tuscany, between the Apuane Alps and the Tirreno Sea with a coastline of approximately 20 km. There are always mild temperatures at sea level and in the hot season the vicinity of the mountains cools the air, and the wintertime is milder thanks to the ocean air.
On reaching Versilia one immediately notices the pleasures and comforts that this land offers: a long seaside coast with numerous and well-equipped beachside resorts and a large pine forest on the sea, where it is possible to take walks, play, bike ride, and do other activities. The most famous areas are probably the Viale dei Tigli, which is 6km long and which unites Viareggio and Marina di Torre del Lago and the pineta di Ponente, on the western part of the city. What makes it fascinating are the inhabitants who, despite the fact that it is a touristic region, have maintained an identity which is characterized by the activities that were practiced during ancient times.
When discovering Versilia, one can't help but stop in Forte dei Marmi, an elegant seaside town, which was built around in important distribution point for marble coming from the Apuane Alps. It began in 1788 when Granduke Leopoldo I of Tuscany drained the swamps and built a fort that gave the name to the town. It was first discovered at the end of the nineteenth century by artists and European intellectuals, and then again in the Twenties by the Italian bourgeoisie who brought their rituals and myths to the area, building large and sumptuous villas not far from the sea. The famous nightclubs La Capannina, the oldest nightclub in Italy, was inaugurated in 1929 by Achille Franceschi; Italo Balbo often went there by hydroplane.
A few kilometers from Forte dei Marmi, to the south, is Viareggio. It rises up on the canal of Burlamacca and is ensconced between the Pineta of Levante and Ponente. The first town dates back to the 15th century and was an important seaside center. It was a town of sailors, in fact, and only in the 19th century it became a vacation town. But even so, it never stopped being an important connection to the sea. Fishing and boat building at its famous boatyards are famous. Don't miss Carnival there. In old-town Viareggio you can visit Torre Matilde, the villa of Paolina Buonaparte, and along the shore, the Gran Caffè Margherita, an important example of Liberty style architecture with decoration by Galileo Chini.
The food of the area is of special interest and among the best known dishes are the fish soup, known as ‘cacciucco,’ and risotto with squid and chard.