I always identified Tuscany with rolling green hills and vineyards or dotted with poppies and lavender fields, so I was keen to experience another side of Tuscany. Viareggio is a beach resort on the Tuscan Riviera. After travelling non-stop for almost 2 months, time at the beach before returning to Rome sounded very relaxing.
Viareggio is actually part of an area called Versilia, which spans several small seaside towns and a beautiful sandy beach stretching over 20 kilometers. It’s one of the most well-known seaside resorts in Tuscany and a popular holiday destination for Italians.
After a fire destroyed Viareggio in 1917, it was almost entirely rebuilt during the twenties and thirties when Art Nouveau and Liberty architecture was popular. You can still get a hint of that decadent “Gatsby” feel as you stroll along the stylish 3 kilometer promenade known as the “Passeggiata a Mare”.
The promenade runs alongside of the beach and is lined with a collection shops, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas. Across the street are all types of hotels to suit any budget. We managed to find a very good rate at the 3 star Hotel Eden with a balcony and a rooftop deck and incredible views to the ocean.
We visited the large and busy marinas alongside of the Burlamacca Canal with its extravagant Super Yachts – an eye opener and as to the huge amount of wealth in Italy. The fishermen come up the canal with their daily catch and in the afternoon we’d go to the popular fish and chip boat for a plate of freshly caught deep-fried calamari and shrimp.
Other days we’d stroll for miles along the promenade and then walk back along the beach. Along the way we’d stop for coffee, browse around the shops and just generally soak up the energetic atmosphere. In the evening we’d join the local Italians in their traditional stroll up and down the Passeggiata past some of the fabulous grand 1920’s hotels.