What to see in Versilia, Italy

Italy’s first grand hotel, a bustling sea and the heart of Tuscany: my guide to Versilia

I spent a weekend in Viareggio, met the sea for the first time this season, visited one of Italy’s first grand hotels, the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte, and now I tell you why you don’t have to wait until summer to go to the Versilia coast.

1. The Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte opened in 1922 as the Select Palace Hotel. It was the first hotel in Italy to have hot and cold water in every room, and the first hotel in Europe to offer its guests a heated pool on the beach, by which the hotel stands. In other words, the level of comfort and luxury was unprecedented. The hotel immediately earned the attention of guests: the twenties were a time of emergence and development of interest in beach life. You probably remember the story of how Coco Chanel in 1913, opening her first store in the French resort town of Deauville, made a revolution, offering customers clothes in which they could spend time by the sea actively, not just strolling under an umbrella? By the twenties, the sea began to be bathed in. Having a heated pool on the beach at that time was incredibly prestigious.

2. The building on the photo – the beach club hotel. It was built in 1938 by the Florentine architect Aldo Castelfranco with elements of Italian rationalism. Castelfranco uses the most topical aesthetics – straight strict lines, clean volumes, large windows.

The opening of the club was a real treat for the resort – no one was offering the same level of ambience and service at the time. The beach club had separate cubicles for resting and storing beach gear, a heated pool, sun loungers and chairs, bathrooms, a restaurant, a ballroom and even an air-conditioned movie theater. Against the backdrop of beach pavilions built in Art Deco or liberty style, as they say in Italy, the new beach club of the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte looked defiantly relevant.

3. The beaches here in Versilia are wide, sandy, incredibly long. In March, I found the sea noisy, rumbling: I fell asleep and woke up with the balcony open, not to the whisper, but to the sound of the waves, and it was beautiful. The hotel’s beach club is still open – in season, of course. The Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte offers umbrellas and sun beds on one of the best beaches in Italy and all possible modern comforts.

The hotel is on the seafront – there is a small road between the hotel and the beach. The arrangement of the promenade surprised me a little: it turned out that the best view of the sea is from the hotel rooms, because you can not see the sea from the promenade itself, it is all built up with beach clubs. In the mornings there is plenty of room for runners: I went for my first run of the season.

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5. The hotel, opened in the twenties, is a monument of liberty style architecture. In 2004 it underwent a large-scale reconstruction, which was very difficult: without the approval of the state commission it was impossible to carry out any operation! I was amused by the sign in the elevator informing me that its modest size is related to the restoration requirements of the landmark.

6. Every detail has been carefully preserved, so you walk through the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte like through a museum.

9. I love new, newly opened hotels showcasing all the modern technology and design, but the old grand houses have great charm and soul.

11. The stained glass windows with which the hotel is decorated are a true work of art.

14. Even the handles are original! Look how beautiful it is!

15. March 8th was like this for me!

16. The rooms on the four floors of the hotel are in different styles – Empire, Colonial, Art Deco and International style. I got the right one – with kitties!

17. When I saw the bed I was speechless. I think my bed is big (2 * 2) but there were two double without a single slit between the mattresses. And that blue and white canopy – the bedroom of a princess. Too bad I came without my husband.

18. The bathrooms are decorated with marble. The cosmetics are Etro. Everything is modern, but in a historical setting. Great!

19. The hotel has a rooftop pool – all-season, heated, with a great view of the coast.

20. And a spa, the use of which is included, like the use of the pool, in the price of the rooms.

21. this terrace is the most beautiful viewpoint of Viareggio.

22. The restaurant with the most beautiful view in town is the two-star Il Picccolo Principe on the fifth floor of the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte. From here you can see both the sea and the mountains. In summer the windows are wide open so you can have lunch or dinner while enjoying the sea breeze.

24. Giuseppe Mancini is in the kitchen at Il Piccolo Principe. The chef is a very proud man who has been working at the hotel since 2005, in 2008 he received the first Michelin star for the restaurant and a few years later – the second one. The restaurant is noted as outstanding by all Italian gastronomic guides. Mancini closely follows all current trends in the world of haute cuisine: he tries to reduce waste, striving for the zero waste concept like Peter Pichel (Alexander, Estonia) and Christian Puglisi (Relæ, Denmark), and makes attempts to rethink traditional food from childhood like Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Italy) or Pino Cuttaya (La Madia, Italy). At the same time, Mancini is very focused on French culinary techniques and advances in modern molecular gastronomy – he cooks in a highly technical, proper way, the way a Michelin guide likes it. For the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte, working with him is a huge success.

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25. I lacked a little bit of soul in Mancini’s cuisine – I read all the ideas and the chef came to tell me about his food, but the technicality came to the forefront. I recall in this respect a performance by the pianist Wang Yuji, who played Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto at the Berlin Philharmonic so technically flawless that what was happening on stage was more like an elaborate circus act. The audience stood on its ears. And I, a Russian, lacked soul in the Prokofiev from the Chinese. It was the same here. In short, my impression of the restaurant was mixed. I advise you, if you are going to go in the daytime when there will be a view of the sea and open windows. You will tell later, for what you – for technics or for sincerity.

26. On the first floor of the hotel there is Regina restaurant – sensible, well made Italian cuisine. Try the fritto misto, a mix of deep-fried seafood with a glass of Tuscan pink.

27. And here, to the sound of classical music, breakfast is served.

28. Viareggio and the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte as the only hotel of similar level in the area are convenient to use as a base for exploring the surroundings. There is a lot to see within a 30-40 minute drive from the hotel. For example, Lake Massaccioli, where Giacomo Puccini lived and worked for 30 years in the town of Torre del Lago.

29. Or respectable Forte dei Marmi with boutiques, elegant restaurants and a busy antique market at weekends. From the hotel, it’s a fifteen-minute straight drive.

31. Or Pietrasanta, a charming Italian town full of art galleries and studios that when you look at it you immediately know – oh, this is the Italy!

32. Or drive through the Apuan Alps – to see the marble quarries, the misty roads, the emerald lakes and the colorful towns on the hillsides.

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33. Or eventually reach Liguria, walk along the Lerici promenade, marvel at how different the sea is, try to count the oranges on the trees and the boats in the port, eat fresh oysters with a glass of cold vermentino. Forty minutes away only!

34. And be sure to get to Lucca, just 25 minutes from the hotel. The heart of Tuscany, narrow streets, clocks chiming, medieval towers… Puccini was born here.

36. These places are some of the hottest on the Italian tourist map. To come here in the off-season means to see more than others.

Italy’s resorts – Versilia

Versilia

Versilia is a city in Tuscany that is the most famous in Italy. Versilia is on the seashore in the northwestern region of Tuscany. The coast stretches for twenty kilometers along the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas. The whole area is surrounded by the incredibly beautiful Aluan Alps.

Versilia is in the province of Lucca. The resort of Versilia is made up of seven communes: Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta, Camaiore, Viareggio, Massarosa, Stazzema and Seravizza.

Versilia climate

Versilia has wonderful weather all year round. That’s because Versilia has a surprisingly mild climate. In summer the average temperature is around +24 degrees. As for the winter period, the temperature, as a rule, does not go below +10 degrees. Sunny days prevail in this region. Therefore this place attracts tourists from all over the world. Especially a lot of tourists here during the summer months. Here come both Italian and foreign representatives of cultural, political, sports or business elite. And they all have the same goal – to have an unforgettable vacation.

Historical background of Versilia

Versilia is part of Tuscany, so their histories are closely linked. In the area that is now called Tuscany, in the second millennium B.C. the people of the Apennine culture lived. This people had an active trade with the Minoan civilization, which lived on the coast of the Aegean Sea.

After the Villanovan culture fell into decline after the Etruscans took over the territory. This people founded the first major civilization in northern Italy. The Etruscans developed a good transportation infrastructure, began farming, mining, and it was this people who created the brightest works of art.

A civilization gradually grew in the area between the Arno and Tiber rivers. It was perhaps the greatest civilization that existed in the sixth century BC. The Etruscans passed on their power to the Romans who later ruled here. This happened in the third century. The Romans did not destroy the Etruscan civilization, but assimilated it very well. Tuscany was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Here were created the most magnificent monuments of architecture, painting, sculpture. The most famous are the Uffizi, as well as Bargello, which are located in the capital of Tuscany – Florence.

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Versilia

Tuscany gave the world the great Leonard da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante Alighieri. The famous scholars Giovanni, Francesco and Tommaso Ingirami came from the ancient Tuscan family Ingirami.

Attractions, excursions and entertainment in Versilia

Versilia used to be a swampy, sparsely populated area. Here one could hardly imagine a unique vacation spot. Now the situation has changed: Versilia is a place where you can expect comfort, a wonderful vacation for beauty and health. There are more than six hundred luxury hotels in Versilia, which are ready to provide all the guests with high quality premium recreation. As for the beaches, in Versilia there are about four hundred bathing areas that are private, as well as municipal beaches, stretching for more than ten kilometers.

All kinds of entertainment awaits you in this wonderful city. It is worth noting the 15 discos, nightclubs, arcades, where you can try your luck, bowling centers, theaters, cabarets, cinemas, luna parks. The list could go on and on. If you love outdoor activities, you can find a lot to do in Versilia. On the coast you can go scuba diving, windsurfing. Recently, parasailing has become very popular, as well as snorkeling.

You can always rent a yacht or boat and make an unforgettable boat trip along the coast. For extreme lovers canoeing is available. Lovers of horseback riding can also enjoy the speed and beautiful scenery. For this beautiful and graceful sport there are spacious parks and comfortable riding arenas.

In Versilia there are also numerous fields for soccer, as well as courts for figure skating. There are also specially designed trails for trekking and cycling, with different levels of trails for both professionals and amateurs. You can even go on a safari on marked trails. The trails will take you through the protected areas of the Alouani Alps. If you come to Versilia to enjoy its cultural life, you should first of all visit the Puccini Festival, held in Torre del Lago.

The carnival in Viareggio is a must. All of these places are easy to reach, as Versilia has an excellent network of roads, which can also be used to reach the central Tuscan areas and the Etruscan Riviera.

Versilia

The Carnival in Viareggio is undoubtedly the main event of the year in all of Tuscany. The carnival dates back to 1873. As a rule, the carnival is held at the beginning of the year. This time coincides with the beginning of Lent for Catholics. Carnival processions take place for three consecutive weeks. They continue for the so-called Fat Tuesday. In between parades, organizers of the holiday are ready to offer spectators colorful theatrical performances right in the open air, as well as various sporting events, culinary and, of course, wine festivals. All children dress up in funny costumes of cartoon and fairy tale characters.

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The real heroes of the carnival are the satirical figures and dolls made of papier-mache. They are taken around all the embankment squares on carts. The carnival figures are wheeled about during the day and at night. It is said that the idea for these carriages and puppets came from the shipyards in Versilia.

Carnival in Viareggio is different from Carnival in Venice. This is primarily due to the fact that it has political overtones. If you look closely at the figures and puppets in the carriages, you will notice that they are caricatures of politicians, prominent financiers, businessmen, show businessmen or athletes. You can also often find masks that caricature the leaders of the country.

In addition to modern masks, you can also find traditional masks at the carnival. The main one is the mask of the hero Burlamakko. This hero is created by a local resident of Viareggio – Uberto Bonetti. On all TV channels in Italy you can watch the famous Shrovetide holiday. But why watch it on TV, when you can be a direct participant? This holiday has existed for over fifty years. Participating in the Pancake Day celebrations, you can feel the atmosphere of joy, genuine fun and ceaseless extravaganza.

For many tourists may be no less interesting to visit the Uffizi Gallery. It is a palace, which is located in Florence. The palace was built in 1560-1581. Currently, it is the most famous museum, which gathered the best exhibits of European fine art. The Bargello People’s Palace was transformed into a national museum. The museum features magnificent displays of Italian sculpture from the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. In this museum you can admire Bacchus and the Madonna and Child by Michelangelo.

Versilia

Conclusion

Do you want to have an impeccable vacation in Italy? Then you need to visit a region that is unique in this respect – Tuscany. It is here that you will find a nice, wonderful city, which is the most famous resort not only in this sunny country, but also in the whole world – the city of Versilia. Here you can enjoy a stunning, unparalleled beach vacation, visit wonderful sights and feel the beat of life at festivals, carnivals and fancy processions. Source

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