A guide to Tuscany - Part 1
Marina di Massa, Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta and Viareggio
Tuscany – the name stands for lifestyle, aesthetics, elegance, and sensuality!
To me, it is the most complete place I have visited so far, and I travel a lot :)
Renting a Fiat 500, driving along the coast, enjoying the light summer feeling I always feel the urge to listen to these old Italian songs by Lucio Dalla or Patty Pravo that I love so much. Tuscany has many different facets and whether you are a nature fan, sea addict, sports athlete a shopping queen, a gourmet or a mix of these, I promise, you will find plenty of things to do.
For nature lovers and hikers, I recommend a visit in spring or autumn despite the occasional rain showers, art lovers will most probably enjoy the winter months and for all the beach addicts amongst you, you might prefer a stay in between June and September, the warmest months in Tuscany.
In this article, I will take you to Marina di Massa, Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta, and Viareggio. Let’s go.ッ
For many years my go-to place to stay is Marina di Massa as I love the sea and I can easily reach all my favorite spots as the motorway is very close.
The sceneries between the pier stretching out into the sea and the views on the Apuan Alps with the Carrara white marble quarries is unforgettable. (Especially at sunset, when the tramontane lets the red glow shine into the water). Marina di Massa is a small village with a lively center in which you feel right at home. I always like to stay at the Hotel Excelsior which I first got to know back in 2007 when I booked a room for me and my son. It is a family-run hotel, mother and daughter handle the day-to-day business, but you will for sure also meet the grandmother. They have a cute garden with a pool and their panoramic roof garden restaurant has a gorgeous view. During the weekends their Japanse chef Megumi will prepare delicious Sushis. Make sure that you have the beach package included in your hotel reservation: you will normally have 2 beach chairs, one umbrella, and one beach lounge. Otherwise, the cost can be very high or you need to go to one of the public beaches.
Are you an ice-cream fan? Then you should definitely swing by Fabio's shop Arue where you will find the best ice-cream in town. Do you prefer a fresh fruit salad or a smoothie? No worries, you can also find them here, made with the region’s best ingredients. One of my favorite « bagno » is at Rossi’s. In the evening you can have dinner, (I recommend making a reservation especially on « Ferragosto » 15th of August) and try their delicious cozze ripieni ! For a quick lunch, I prefer La Prosciutteria in the village or one of the delicious foccacerias.
On Wednesdays, it is definitely a tradition to bike from Marina di Massa to the chic Forte dei Marmi to visit the famous weekly market (which also takes place on Sundays – but it’s smaller). The market is not just any market, but for me, it is the trendiest market you can imagine. Italy is one of the leading countries when it comes to fashion so you will find the latest trends at one glance, from shoes, dresses, linen or fantasy jewelry to leather goods! Prices start at 5€ but also go high up depending on what you’d like to splurge on. Two of the many beautiful shops in Forte dei Marmi are Glamour in Rose and Mauro Volponi where you can find shoes, designer handbags, accessories and much more at very good prices. You should drop in Ladies! ッ
Each house, hotel or shop in Forte dei Marmi is beautifully decorated with flowers and the many small shopping streets are free of cars. This leaves the town with a really relaxing atmosphere. After shopping, I like to take an aperitivo or expresso at Principe’s.
For food, in Forte dei Marmi I can recommend Al Bocconcino for a pizza in the evening. Make sure to be there by 7 p.m. or you will need to stand in line to get a seat. Furthermore, whenever I am in town, I take an appointment with Valentina at Cortril’s for a new haircut Italian style.
From Forte dei Marmi it is a stone’s throw to Pietrasanta. An art city with a very special atmosphere. I love to be here because it is filled with galleries and exhibitions. Terraces and restaurants are filled with people, laughter and serve a typical Italian aperitivo and delicious food. The historical center of the medieval city is known for its bronze and marble workshops, international artists and monuments. This year, the Piazza del Duomo left me breathless! Manoló Valdés, a great Master of International Art, presented 5 monumental works decorated differently. I arrived in a full moon night in Pietrasanta - which is also called the little Athens of Italy – and found the small streets to be decorated with beautifully colored floating butterflies. Don’t miss it!
A few kilometers away lies Viareggio! Tuscany’s Nice of Côte d’Azur. I love to spend a few hours here along the few kilometers of lungomare. You can easily park your car in the parking next to the huge Hotel Principe del Piemonte. The walk stretches along the beach with many beach clubs, bars, and shops ending at the Caffé Margherita, an Art Deco architecture building. Those who know me, know often can be found sitting inside in the garden :)
I will also always remember the famous Carnival of Viareggio where I danced a few years ago, summer version. It was really fun, and I absolutely recommend to take part once. In one of the many shops, I asked for good local restaurants which allowed me to discover Amaro. Two brothers, passionate by food and wine, created a brasserie with a good choice of menus, fish and meat to try. It’s perfect for a romantic date or a simple meet up with friends, I love it. Also, along the seafront, another favorite restaurant of mine is called Casablanca.
How to travel to Tuscany? Either you do it with your car and plan a stopover in Sirmione or Como for example or you can find low-cost flights to Pisa from Brussels or Frankfurt Hahn. Arrived, I really suggest renting a Fiat 500 at Hertz for a week or even two, as it is not that expensive and brings you in this Italian feeling.
I could go on and on describing the villages but today I’ll leave you with this. Do you want more? I will soon continue my Tuscany love series is in a new article, stay tuned. ♡