Tuscany areas:Florence Siena Lucca Chianti San Gimignano Arezzo Pisa Versilia Cortona Montecatini Garfagnana
Accommodation listings, plus useful information and tips:
Viareggio was one of the first seaside resorts in Europe and is still enormously popular today, both with Italians and foreign visitors, particularly those in the yachting community. The coastal strip of Versilia (from Forte dei Marmi to the north and Torre del Lago Puccini in the south) has over twenty kilometres of beaches with countless 'bagni' (bathing establishments), nature parks, pine woods, natural lakes and some splendid countryside.
With all of this, and the close proximity of Lucca and the motorways leading to the cities of art, Versilia truly can offer the best of all worlds for your holiday in Tuscany.
The seaside town of Viareggio and the various resorts of the 'Versilian Riviera' lie but a short distance from Lucca.
A stroll along the promenade at Viareggio is not to be missed. You'll find an eclectic mix of architectural styles - from art nouveau and art deco through to mock neo-classical; all of this was started in the 1920's when the original wooden bagni were burnt down.
Home every year to an enormous carnival - the largest in Europe - Viareggio has a unique atmosphere and is worthy of a visit at any time of the year.
There are beaches all along the coast - 'designer' Forte dei Marmi, Lido di Camaiore and Lido di Pietrasanta to name a few; well over a hundred bagni compete for your custom, each offering varying amenities and services (pools, restaurants, waiter service, etc.).
Some places to visit in and around Viareggio:
Pietrasanta (25K North West of Lucca) - a busy little town, Pietrasanta is historically and artistically the chief town of inland Versilia. Share a coffee with marble sculptors from all over the world and maybe even visit a marble workshop. The town has a pleasant historical centre, and the main piazza is often decorated with exhibitions of modern sculpture.
Camaiore (18K North West of Lucca) - lying in the foothills of the Apuan alps, Camaiore may not be very attractive on its outskirts, but the long central main street makes for a very pleasant stroll. There are some interesting shops and restaurants and the town has some fine examples of Romanesque churches and architecture.
Torre del Lago Puccini - a short distance south of Viareggio and reachable along the impressive Viale dei Tigli, Torre del Lago is a quiet seaside town known chiefly for being the home of Giacomo Puccini who for years owned and lived in a villa here. As in Viareggio, much of the beach is divided between private bagni, and as a resort the town is pleasantly small.
Puccini's house is open to the public but only for half-hour guided tours, while in the square outside you can buy almost any Puccini souvenir you can think of the theme is carried throughout the town with streets, bars and restaurants named after characters in the operas.
The vast lake that the town stands on is the Lago di Massaciuccoli, a unique bird reserve that is part of the nature park of Migliarino-San Rossore. Boat trips around the lake are on offer on Piazzale Belvedere Puccini, usually with a Puccini soundtrack.