Cities of Italy:
Viareggio is in the province of Lucca and is a popular seaside resort of Tuscany, it is home to many contemporary artists as well as it has been in the past. It overlooks a stretch of sandy coast of the Ligurian Sea, at the mouth of the channel Burlamacca, Viareggio is famous for its carnival and for its good food. It borders the municipalities of Camaiore Massarosa and Vecchiano, it’s at a short distance from the high society of Versilia to which it belongs and is easy to reach thanks to all the major arterial roads of northern and central Italy.
How to reach By air: The closest airport is Pisa International Airport, which is at a few minutes journey from Florence, the airport has a suitable train and bus station. Another possible option is Genoa Cristoforo Colombo airport, if you decide to travel by train and reach Viareggio from Genoa, the distance is approximately 150Km. By road: The best way to visit the city, if your luggage does not allow you to book a comfortable coach ride, is definitely using your own car. Viareggio can be reached, for those coming from the south, by the A1 motorway leading towards Florence, through the motorway Firenze Mare A11, follow the signs for Livorno. At the exit take the Viareggio-Lucca, turn on the SS 1, till you reach Camaiore, finally arriving at your destination. There is also a very panoramic road to reach Viareggio, it’s the Superstrada Tirrenica which follows the old roman road Aurelia, but remember that the speed limit is very low.
From the north you reach Viareggio through the A1 motorway Parma-La Spezia, take the Genoa – Livorno direction, continue along the A12 until you reach the junction to Viareggio. By train: Viareggio has a main train station, so it’s very easy to reach from the surrounding areas of Tuscany, whereas if you are coming from Milan or Rome you need to change train at least twice. This is why we suggest to use your own car. By Sea: If you want to reach La Versilia by boat, the only port provided with facilities is “La Madonnina” in front of the city. During your stay you can also rent a sailboat, to visit the most beautiful stretches of the coast, as well as being able to move in complete freedom.
A bit of History Evidence prove that Viareggio was inhabited by permanent settlements not earlier than a thousand years ago. However, the territory was already active thanks to fact that it was the only sea outlet which allowed trade for the inhabitants of Lucca. The area had a massive reclamation as it was as marshy as the near Versilia, full of flies and mosquitoes. Around more or less year 1400, it was decided to build a fortification, following the reclamation. The road to reach the castle, which gave birth to the village, was the so-called Viam Regiam. From there, business started to flourish and succeed, challenging pirates and bad weather, but for the people of Lucca, there was something worse than the terrible raids made by the Saracens, the competitor neighbours, the inhabitants of Pisa the “Pisani”. For this reason a
hundred years after, a second fortification was built, it is the perfectly preserved tower, known as “Matilde Tower”. During the same period, the feudal lords, already harassed by the disputes of Pisa and Lucca, bind to the lordship of the famous Castruccio Castracani. In 1700, after the completion of the reclamation, we must remember the problems caused by the plague told by Giovanni Boccaccio in his “Decamerone”, Viareggio becomes a Municipality with its characteristics, increasing in population and gaining a succeeding shipbuilding industry activity. In 1797 Napoleon established the Cisalpine Republic and under the impasse of the nobility of the time, attracted by the weather and the very fashionable idea that sea-bathing cured every desease, the town was enhanced by new beautiful buildings, residential and non. The first seaside resorts opened and from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards, Viareggio could say goodbye to its unlucky past and embraces the new advent of its touristic reputation, the birth of the Promenade, the center starts filling with stalls and the city takes a second name as the “Pearl of the Tyrrhenian”, which is still used today.
How to move about Once again the car is helpful. The coach service is efficient but not always cheap, and with the many schools and nearby universities, busses and trains are not always a valid support in your pilgrimage. The car also allows you to stop at the famous night clubs that we will discover later on and to reach, without big problems, Massaciucoli the nearest lake, the National Park of Migliarino San Rossore and the famous Lido di Camaiore, without forgetting the Park of Monte Marcello
Magra, which is part of the Province of La Spezia. There is a useful bike service along the road of the Versilia cycle path, once again, the timeless weekend on a sailboat, that with appropriate costs and tricks, can turned into a whole week, learning the secrets of the sea by joining a Sailing Club. Your feet will be your best friends, the old town center is worth to be seen and visited more than once, for a nice cup of coffee and in the evening for a drink, the beaches the main protagonists will give you immediate relief..
Natura Tuscany is famous for its hilly landscape, soft bends in cultivated fields of wheat and rye, tall woods of holly oak and cypress, spotted by a wine cellar and a tiny village, surrounded by its church. Aromatic herbs such as laurel leaves and juniper dispute the clearings with bushes of whin, giving the idea that time and places to visit, apart from the real city, are three and all different: an uninhibited city, a sunny sea and a park in perfect “ Zen style.” The park, in this case is the regional park of Migliarino – San Rossore was established in 1979, it covers the stretch of coast between Viareggio and Livorno, maintaining an almost wild track. In this area there are also the famous WWF oasis: The Wood of Cornacchiaia and the Dunes of Tirrenia, both true jewels of the Tuscan countryside. It won’t be difficult to run into a fox, the rare dormouse, in the porcupine and in the marsh turtle, these are all protected species and of great fauna value. Not far from these oases, we arrive to a third one, sponsored by
the Lipu and facing perhaps the main attraction of the park and of its peaceful soul, Massaciucoli Lake once a-fertile delta lagoon. It is possible to find the appropriate tools - and knowledge, for bird watching, observing some of the most sought species by the lovers of this sector: kingfishers, kestrels, bee-eaters and great tits. Just at a stone throw from the quiet lake, we can find the center of Torre del Lago, it is possible to reach Torre del Lago by canoe directly from the stretch of water in front of it, the place is also known also for its spring colors and for the beauty of its landscape, Giacomo Puccini’s villa is on the shore and is now used as a museum. In the area on the left of Puccini’s house you must remember that every summer the opera season takes place, it is dedicated to his works. Migliarino’s park is unfortunately closed but in fact we could talk for hours about the beauty of this park. Let’s talk about the sea then.The number of private beaches cannot be listed at Marina di Pietrasanta, Lido and Viareggio, ten kilometers of fine sand, people oriented by the presence of over 100 beach resorts, but it’s a must to spend at least 50 euro on tan plus your lunch. For those who want to
save money, the most accessible public beaches are located between Torre del Lago and the village, the so called Beach Lecciona. You can get there by bike, it is surrounded by nature and it’s really cheap.
Viareggio’s cooking The typical dishes are, as tradition wants, based on fresh seafood, catch of the day, cooked recycling food or often recipes passed on by generations of fishermen. It’s worth trying another kind of caciucco, similar to the special fish soup made in Livorno or the tasty codfish, stewed or roasted served with chickpeas, these are the leading dishes as regards fish. As well as many centuries of good fertile land, have given birth to tasty dishes of undisputed peasant taste, made with grains. The hulled wheat soup and the Garmugia soup, enriched with lard – taste the one from Colonnata and you will be in heaven, and with the smells of the vegetable garden, the tordelli made with meat and polenta with sauce, baked vegetables pies and bread of course, farinata which is made of chickpeas and fragrant Tuscan bread, are never missing. However, since Viareggio is not just in front of the sea, but is very close to the woods and its delights, we should make a note about mushrooms, cooked in all possible ways; jam, but also game, very tasty rabbit, the delicious rabbit stew, and the savory cheeses. The excellent extra virgin olive oil widely used in first as well as in second dishes and even in desserts, not to be missed: the bucellato, a ring shaped cake made with anise and raisins that children often have for breakfast and Torta con gli erbi, made with wild herbs, chard, eggs, sugar, pine nuts, raisins, parmesan cheese, cinnamon and boiled rice.
Places of interest The promenade is certainly mythical. Home of haute couture shops and trendy boutiques, designer clothes shops, bars and art galleries, it offers endless hours of entertainment, slow food cooking –the taverns, are run by families, you will be able to find different types of them. As well as the phenomenon of thalassotherapy and the “attack” made by the bourgeoisie of the late nineteenth century, attracted by the extraordinary summer weather, another quality element of Viareggio takes life. You will walk with your head up, just to admire the very common Art Nouveau style buildings. The wonderful facades of Villa Argentina or the Gran Caffè Margherita on the boulevard which has the same name, it was designed in 1928 using Art Nouveau ornaments by Galileo Chini, and, although it has changed due to contemporary needs, it’s worth taking a look at the old Cinema Savoy, at the Politeama Theatre on the long pier and, to the building of Magazzini Emporio Duilio 48, surely the most significant art movement of the time. Viareggio, has been home to great international and national minds such as Percy B. Shelley and Lord Byron, but also to the Italian writers Alessandro Manzoni, Gabriele D’Annunzio and the fellow citizen, the musician Giacomo Puccini. Well kept museums such as the Civic Museum of Villa Paolina, almost a picture gallery, the Maritime Museum and the Municipal Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art of Viareggio (GAMC), arranged in the historic Palazzo delle Muse, enrich this town. If art and history should bore you, we suggest two very large and shady pine groves on the west and on the east side, ideal for sports or for a traditional family picnic, a short walk from the well equipped hotel facilities. Last but not least, for lonely hearts there is a navigation service which offers ecological tours of Masaciuccoli Lake, with a stop on the east bank, where there are the Buche di Nerone, that is what is left of the spa of the emperor.
Accomodation, tourism&events First of all the clubs, which are, proper bulkwarks of the wild nights in Viareggio, one of the most popular one is undoubtedly La Capannina in Forte dei Marmi, then La Bussola in Marina di Pietrasanta, followed closely by the Trocadero, and Kama Kama, La Baraona in Cinquale. Timeless discos in the memory of those who have lived during the golden years of disco, now the clubs change according to the musical needs of the youth of the north and central Italy. Since 1873 Viareggio is known for one thing in particular: its Carnival, partly blurred by the beauty of the Venetian one. Four weeks of madness, in which everything is allowed, allegorical paper maché charts give life to a parade on the Promenade. A tradition that is satire and political at the same time, but
it is also a meeting place and epicenter for young thinking minds. The well known Literature Prize founded by Leonida Repaci, the “Santuario Pelagos” where common bottle nose dolphins play in a large marine area created in year 2000, the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, in the summer, are only part of the events that every year gather the ensemble of artists that Viareggio wants and has right to host, in the middle of the amphitheater of its floral houses, a quadrangular tower where Torre Matilda stands indifferent to the cars and to Shelley square, meeting point for everyone, the heart of the town that lets you love it.
gina” house, detached houses with back garden, to ultra-modern apartments fully equipped, with terraces and exclusive parkings. The beauty of the land and its favorable climate, makes Viareggio a very popular destination for tourists, who often fall in love with the place, after a short summer holiday, and decide to buy an apartment to stay even in other periods of the year, during the Carnival or the various festivities, as the town is “alive” all the year round. The rental market has undergone a reduction of the rents, but those who have the possibility of obtaining a loan prefer to buy a house, a better investment today, due to more accessible and attractive prices compared to the past.
Real property market
As noticed on the whole national territory, even in Viareggio the real estate market, in this period, has been affected by the crisis which our country is facing. In fact the prices of residential properties, compared to the end of 2012, has suffered an average drop around 20%. The average cost for properties varies according to the location, new constructions prices in the outlying areas fluctuate between 2,500 € and 3,000 € per square meter, and roughly between 3,500 € and 5,000 € per square meter for properties in the town center. The most prestigious areas such as those near the beach and the magnificent liberty “Promenade”, prices vary from € 6,000 to € 7,000 per sqm . The trading market referred to the first house, is the one more affect by the unfavorable period, due to the difficulty for families of obtaining loans, the major contraction on our territory occurred in the outlying areas, generally more sought, due to lower prices, by those who are not interested in living at a few steps distance from the beach, for the benefit of having houses, that at the same price are bigger and more suitable to live all the year round. The trading market for second houses instead, despite the contraction compared to the past, continues to be the most active . The general reduction in prices in fact, has given the possibility of finding properties in the most prestigious areas of Viareggio, at very interesting prices; this according to many experts of the sector, will be reassessed in the long term, therefore an excellent investment for the future In the central area of the town, it is possible to buy from the typical “Viareg-
Let’s pretend not to tempt you with the flourishing landscape of the Magra just at a stone throw, or by the fortified beauties of the Poets Gulf just at an hour’s drive, the windy Portovenere where you can still breathe the pirates atmosphere and Sarzana with its Romanesque architecture, we keep focused on the Tuscan territory. Viareggio is unforgettable all the year round, it is located at about 25 kms from the art cities of Pisa and Lucca, and at a double distance, on a quiet stretch of motorway, from Florence. Viareggio is also very close to Massa Carrara and to its marble quarries, to Forte dei Marmi which is the Tuscany that knows how to have fun and to all the villages that go from the Apuan Alps and cover the whole territory of the Lunigiana, the ideal place where you can find a combination between vegetation and family holidays, satisfying the tastes of younger people and of those even more demanding.