Discover Versilia & the enchanting Forte dei Marmi

Mara Noveni | Live the World

May 29, 2024

Versilia is a coastal area located in the northwestern part of Tuscany, Italy, known for its beautiful beaches, charming towns, and stunning mountain views. The region extends along the Tyrrhenian Sea, from the Apuan Alps to the south and the Ligurian Sea to the north. 

The main towns of Versilia are Viareggio, Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta, and Camaiore, all of which are popular tourist destinations. Viareggio is the largest and most famous town in Versilia, known for its long promenade, beautiful beaches, and lively nightlife. Forte dei Marmi is another popular destination, particularly among wealthy visitors, thanks to its luxury shops, high-end restaurants, and exclusive beach clubs

© iStock / kateafter

Pietrasanta, on the other hand, is known for its artistic and cultural heritage. The town is home to numerous art galleries and workshops, and its historical centre is dotted with beautiful monuments and palaces. Camaiore, located in the foothills of the Apuan Alps, offers a more laid-back atmosphere and is popular among hikers and nature enthusiasts.

In addition to its towns, Versilia is also known for its natural beauty. The Apuan Alps, with their striking white marble quarries, provide a stunning backdrop to the region, while the beaches and crystal-clear waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

Overall, Versilia is a beautiful and diverse region that offers something for everyone, whether you're interested in culture, nature, or simply relaxing on the beach.

© iStock / leonori

Forte dei Marmi

Forte dei Marmi is a seaside town located in the province of Lucca, in the northwestern region of Tuscany, Italy. It is situated on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea and is known for its beautiful beaches, luxury resorts, and upscale shops and restaurants

The town takes its name from the historic fort located in the area, which was built in the 18th century to protect the coast from pirates and invaders. Today, the fort serves as a cultural centre and hosts exhibitions, concerts, and other events throughout the year.

© iStock / kateafter

Forte dei Marmi has been a popular destination for wealthy vacationers since the early 20th century, and it is still known for its high-end accommodations and amenities. The town's main attractions include its beaches, which are known for their soft sand and crystal-clear water, as well as its elegant boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.

Overall, Forte dei Marmi is a beautiful and sophisticated destination that offers visitors a taste of luxury and refinement in a stunning coastal setting.

The Apuan Alps and the marble extraction

The Apuan Alps, located behind Versilia, are famous for their beautiful white marble, which has been quarried in the region for centuries. The extraction of marble in the Apuan Alps is a complex and labour-intensive process that involves several steps.

First, the marble is located deep within the mountain range, and workers must create access points through tunnels and shafts. Once access has been established, workers use saws and drills to cut and remove blocks of marble from the mountain. The blocks are then transported down the mountain using cables and pulleys, a process that requires great skill and precision to avoid damaging the marble.

© iStock / SergeYatunin

Once the blocks have been removed from the mountain, they are transported to workshops and factories for further processing. At these facilities, the blocks are cut and polished to create slabs, tiles, and other finished products. This process also requires specialized machinery and skilled workers, as the marble must be handled carefully to avoid cracking or chipping.

The extraction of marble in the Apuan Alps has a long and rich history, dating back to the Roman Empire. Today, the region is home to several large marble quarries and is a major centre of marble production, with marble from the Apuan Alps being used in construction and decoration projects around the world.

However, the extraction of marble has also been controversial due to the environmental impact of quarrying on the fragile ecosystem of the Apuan Alps, as well as concerns about worker safety and exploitation.

© iStock / max_barattini

WHAT TO SEE IN FORTE DEI MARMI

The fort, the waterfront and the jetty

Our visit to the city obviously starts from what gave it its name, the Fortino, or Forte Lorenese, built at the end of the 18th century. It is a military construction with defensive and sighting functions. From this fort, it was possible to communicate with other forts by means of light signals. The building was also used as a marble warehouse in the period when the wharf was used as a commercial port for marble by sea. During the Fascist period, the fort became the "Casa del Fascio", then the seat of the city Post Office, and currently, it houses the Museum of Satire and Caricature.

© iStock / kateafter

The jetty, a sort of walkway over the Tyrrhenian Sea, is the place of the heart for the inhabitants of Forte dei Marmi. From Piazza Navari, perpendicular to the pier, approximately 9 km of seafront extends where you can take romantic walks, jog, or enjoy the sunset, eating ice cream. Furthermore, from there you can access all the lidos.

© iStock / StevanZZ

The Roma Imperiale District

The first villas of Forte dei Marmi were built towards the end of the 19th century, when the city became a fashionable place and attracted many foreign tourists, especially Germans, and belonged to artists and entrepreneurs. Many famous people fell in love with the pristine and still wild beauty of this place.

The Roma Imperiale district is located in the southern area of Forte dei Marmi, between via Nizza and via XX Settembre. The area takes its name from the Roma Imperiale Anonymous Cooperative Society, which bought the land in the area in the 1920s and then resold it to wealthy vacationers.

The urbanization project of the area is the work of the famous architect Giovanni Michelucci, one of the greatest exponents of 20th-century architecture. The district is characterized by the numerous large elegant villas, built with a great diversity of architectural styles, with the use of precious materials, obviously including the precious marble of the Apuan Alps.

© Visit Versilia / Carolina Castagnoli

Today, walking through the streets of Roma Imperiale, we enjoy the majesty of the buildings, the beauty of the gardens, the tranquillity of the silence and the shade of the tree-lined avenues. One of the masterpieces of Mediterranean rationalism is undoubtedly Villa Antonietta, in Via Corsica, with its large windows, perfect for a seaside villa.

From via Corsica, we continue along Via Raffaelli and we find Villa Mann-Borgese, which undoubtedly reminds us of the shape of an ocean liner, built for Elisabeth Mann, daughter of the famous German writer Thomas Mann.

In Via Leonardo Da Vinci we find Villa Apuana, with its Tuscan-inspired architecture, built for the German industrial family Siemens. In Via Nizza, we find Villa Costanza, bought by the Agnelli family in the 1920s, which includes an underpass that leads directly to the sea. Currently, after a careful restoration, this building has become the famous Hotel Augustus.

In the same area is the most famous disco in all of Versilia, which is also a bathing establishment, the Capannina di Franceschi, inaugurated in 1929 and still in business.

© La Capannina di Franceschi / unknown

Museum Ugo Guidi

The Museum Ugo Guidi is a small art museum located in Forte dei Marmi. It is dedicated to the works of Ugo Guidi, an Italian artist who was known for his paintings, sculptures, and etchings.

The museum was founded in 1996 by the Ugo Guidi Foundation, which was established to promote the artistic legacy of Guidi. The museum is located in a beautiful villa that was once the home of Guidi and his wife, Olga Costa. The villa was donated to the Ugo Guidi Foundation by Costa in 1984.

© Foto Archivio Famiglia Guidi / unknown

The museum houses a collection of over 200 works by Guidi, including paintings, sculptures, and etchings. The works on display span Guidi's career, from his early abstract works to his later figurative pieces. The museum also holds temporary exhibitions featuring the works of other artists. In addition to the art on display, the museum also hosts cultural events such as concerts, lectures, and book presentations. It is open to the public year-round, and admission is free.

Piazza Marconi and the weekly market of the Forte

It is the most luxurious open-air market in Italy. Every Wednesday of the month (even Sundays in high season) until 2 pm, Piazza Marconi displays clothing, bags, and shoes, at a lower price than the expensive boutiques. There is no shortage of food and wine products and local handicrafts such as ceramics and handcrafted sheets, and cashmere sweaters.

© Tripadvisor / unknown

Nightlife

Forte dei Marmi has a vibrant nightlife scene, with many bars and clubs that stay open late. You can enjoy a cocktail or dance the night away with friends.

Let's start with the most famous, Flavio Briatore's Twiga Beach Club: it is located on the sea, has a swimming pool and a lounge area where super exclusive evenings are organised. Unique of its kind is the 67 Sky Lounge bar, a lounge bar on the terraces of the Hotel Principe, from which you can admire Forte dei Marmi from above. La Capannina di Franceschi has a fantastic seaside disco. The Costes is also very popular, ideal for aperitifs with a DJ set or the Almarosa Art Music Bar and the Riviera Lounge Club Bistrot, nightlife venues that offer live music and excellent drinks.

© iStock / shironosov

Staying in Forte dei Marmi

If this story has awakened your interest and your curiosity in discovering and visiting Forte dei Marmi, I can give you some suggestions regarding overnight stays. For example, the Ambra Hotel is located in an excellent position, in the city centre and a few meters from the sea, and has a restaurant, bar, equipped garden and children's play area. Good continental breakfast buffet, which you can enjoy in the garden during the summer. Excellent price.

© Booking / unknown

Another solution, if you prefer independent accommodation, is the Locazione Turistica La Terrazza. Located near the sea, the property offers delightful studio apartments with kitchenettes and terraces, with free on-site parking. Excellent value for money and very hospitable apartments.

As a third solution, I propose a stay in a refined and elegant hotel, the St. Mauritius, a stone's throw from the seafront. The property offers many services, including a spa, swimming pool and bike rental. Bathing establishment in agreement with the structure.

© Booking / unknown

So, Versilia is a beautiful destination that offers something for everyone, whether you're looking for relaxation, outdoor activities, cultural experiences, or delicious food and wine. So, let’s go to discover Versilia & the enchanting Forte dei Marmi! You will not be disappointed!

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