Whether on a beach surrounded by wild nature or at a bathing establishment equipped with all the amenities, the summer in Versilia is synonymous with the sea. The choices as to how to spend the hot summer days are vast, from free beaches (there are several along the Versilia coast) to bathing establishments for all budgets. The so-called “bagni” are rooted in history, when in the late 1820s they made their first appearance in Viareggio, marking the dawn of a new era of tourism and healthy salt-water swimming.
If the idea of lying in the sun for a whole day does not suit you, you can always enjoy the sea more actively, taking to the waves with a surfboard or trying SUP, swimming at breakneck speed or renting a kayak or a pedal boat .
In the hottest season of the year, having places where you can cool off is a real fortune. In Versilia there is no shortage of pine forests near the sea, where you can spend recreational hours in peace and tranquillity. Viareggio’s pine forests are called the Ponente (West) and Levante (East) forests because of where they are located within the city. The first is located in the city centre and has kiosks that sell food and rent bikes, tandems and rickshaws, rides for children, a pond with swans, tennis courts, miniature golf and bowling greens. The Levante pine forest joins Viareggio and Torre del Lago along the Viale dei Tigli and alternates swamps and woodlands, dunes and ayres. The wildest is the Ponente pine forest, but even here there are kiosks and games for children.
In Marina di Pietrasanta, in the Fiumetto area a few hundred metres from the sea, there is the vast Versiliana Park which not only provides a green area but is also home to one of the most culturally exciting places in the Versilia. In its 80 hectares of greenery, with meadows and streams, there is also the park with the villa of the same name where Gabriele D’Annunzio, among others, came to visit. Since the 1980s in the summer here there is the Versiliana Festival, with a rich artistic programme of shows, concerts, afternoon meetings and debates with the participation of famous names in the fields of culture, politics, science and much more.
Between concerts, festivals, music in the streets and clubs, summer is the golden period of music in Versilia. It ranges from historic clubs (such as the Capannina di Franceschi, the Bussola or the Seven Apple), to the traditional opera of the Puccini Festival, held every July and August at Torre del Lago in the theatre overlooking the lake, where you can listen to the great masterpieces of Puccini. And even street festivals, beach concerts, musical events for every taste: Versilia always has its own soundtrack.
Experience the mountains
The Apuan Alps, with their deep valleys and steep slopes are located just a few kilometres away from the coast of Versilia, standing out in all their majesty and clearly visible from the sea. The Regional Park of the Apuan Alps protects this natural environment and the summer is the perfect season to find a bit of refreshment in the mountains and caves, such as the Antro del Corchia in Stazzema, which is the deepest abyss in Italy. In the summer you can organise beautiful walks through the Apuan Alps, following the paths marked out by the Italian Alpine Club (CAI), or go in search of churches, castles and fortresses in the various villages. For the more adventurous there are walls suitable for climbing in the Camaiore valley and also the opportunity to try out canyoning.
Festivals and feasts
With the perfect weather for being outdoors, Versilia in the summer evenings is filled with festivals and feasts. It begins with a party to celebrate the summer solstice and continues with concerts at the Versiliana and Villa Bertelli. There is the Gaber Festival in Camaiore and the feasts of the patron saints: San Lorenzo in Seravezza and Sant’Ermete in Forte dei Marmi. Scattered here and there throughout the area, there are also the village festivals, where you can dine outdoors and listen to live music as well as play bingo or ballroom dance.