Nature and culture in Viareggio
Our journey through Versilia begins in Viareggio, which is easily accessible by public transport or by car and is the central hub of the area. We dedicate this day to discovering the city of the Carnival: If it is winter and art and architecture fascinates you, we suggest you follow our Art Nouveau itinerary, or visit the civic museums including the Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, which boasts the extraordinary works of Lorenzo Viani, the Maritime Museum or the Museum of Villa Paolina. It is even better if you happen to be in Viareggio during the Carnival: with masked parades, the city decked to the nines and the preparations in full swing at the Citadel, you will be sure to have fun!
On the other hand, if you visit Viareggio during the summer you can relax on the beach, choosing between a bathing establishment or a free beach such as the Lecciona beach in the shade of the pine forest. The pine forest is also a great alternative to the beach, or the perfect escape in the hottest hours of the day and a great place for children, who will find games and the possibility to rent bikes.
On the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli
For the second day we move on to an inland destination: Lake Massaciuccoli, in the municipality of Massarosa. Here you can spend a day in the Lipu Centre (Italian league for the protection of birds) walking along the wooden walkways and observing birds in their natural habitat. Alternatively you can go on a guided excursion on a small boat or kayak or take a ride along the cycle path dedicated to Puccini. The second part of the day in Massaciuccoli is dedicated to culture: here you can visit the Roman archaeological area with a villa dating back to the first century BC, the baths and the museum. From the top of the hill on which the Roman villa stands there is a magnificent view of the lake and the coast.
Pietrasanta, the Little Athens of Versilia
The third day is dedicated to discovering the Little Athens of Versilia: Pietrasanta, traditionally linked to marble works and the cradle of artists from around the world, including Botero and Mitoraj. Pietrasanta is an open-air museum, just walk through its historic streets lined with small shops, restaurants and wine bars to understand why. Go to the beautiful Piazza del Duomo where there is the St. Martin Cathedral with its pure white marble façade in the Renaissance-Romanesque style, the Convent of St. Augustine and all the other historic buildings overlooking the heart of the town. You can also visit historical workshops, have dinner in a bistro in the town centre and visit the birthplace of the poet Giosuè Carducci in Valdicastello, a village near Pietrasanta.
Discovering the Apuan Alps Park
We are now mid-holiday: how about discovering another side of Versilia? Versilia is not just beaches but also mountains and hiking trails. In the vast protected area of the Apuan Alps you can wall up to Monte Forato, to the slopes of Monte Matanna for easy family hike or – for experienced hikers – reach the top of the Pania della Croce, “The Queen of the Apuan Alps”, a peak suspended between sky and sea. Even the underground area is full of surprises because these limestone mountains are riddled with karst features, but we will devote the next day to these 😉
From Stazzema to Seravezza, through the Antro del Corchia
On the fifth day explore the Antro del Corchia in Levigliani di Stazzema, one of the largest underground environments in Europe and one of the biggest in the world, of which, to date, about 70 kilometres of caves have been explored and mapped. A visit inside the Antro del Corchia includes approximately two kilometres of steel walkways through canyons, tunnels, concretions, an underground fossilised lake, stalactites and stalagmites. A unique experience that will give you a completely different point of view compared to the better known side of Versilia.
In the second part of the day move on to Seravezza, where this is the Medici Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace, built upon request of Cosimo I de’ Medici, today hosts events and temporary exhibitions, as well as the municipal library, the historical library and the Museum of Work and Folk Traditions of Historical Versilia.
A walk through Forte dei Marmi, in Historical Versilia
As we reach the end of this week in Versilia it is time to discover Forte dei Marmi, spending a relaxing day between beaches, shop windows and VIP hunting. In fact it is not uncommon to find famous people here walking through the historic centre or in some of the most popular nightclubs in Italy. Enjoy a stroll through the beautiful old town around the fort, built by Grand Duke Leopold I of Lorraine, up to the ancient Pier, where the precious blocks of Carrara marble, mined not far from here, were once loaded on to ships. Finish off the day in a bar along the coast.
Camaiore, to finish with a flourish
We have reached the last day of our week-long itinerary in Versilia… How time flies! This last day is dedicated to Camaiore, where everyone can find their ideal setting: sea, mountains or historic villages. You can start your visit in the old town of Camaiore, where it will feel as though you are immersed in another era, especially when you find yourself in front of the ancient St. Peter’s Abbey, a place for pilgrims along the Via Francigena. In the afternoon you can dedicate yourself to relaxing by the sea on the beach of Lido di Camaiore or go for a walk or a cycle along the promenade, which is particularly suitable for families and where there are often craft markets.
As you can see, seven days are not enough to appreciate all of Versilia, but we are sure you will not mind coming back again and again to savour all Versilia has to offer!