Close to the beach
Tuscany has some of the most picturesque beaches in Italy. From Grosseto in the south to Viareggio in the north, the Tuscan coastline has much to offer. We also love the food in this area, where Tuscan staples such as pasta meet world-class seafood.
Forte dei Marmi
Perhaps our favorite Tuscan beach town is Forte dei Marmi, a beautiful, chic beach town on the coast 30 minutes northwest of Lucca. The town draws its name (meaning “marble fort”) from the nearby Apennine mountains, which are drenched in so much marble that they look snow covered in August. The mountain views along with the vast sandy beach have made Forte the preferred holiday destination of wealthy northern Italians since Florentine nobles first came to visit in the late 19th century. Now it’s a destination for people from all over the world, but it has somehow held onto its old world charm. The miles-long beach is spotted with private beach clubs, complete with 1950s style bathing cabins and matching umbrellas. And even if the weather does not cooperate, a day spent strolling the marble sidewalks among the high-end stores and dodging well-dressed bicyclists is a day very well spent.
The main square in Forte dei Marmi is a grassy round park a couple of blocks from the beach, and during the summer, with its bumper cars and pony rides, it’s a kid’s paradise. This is also the location of the open air market that takes place each Wednesday and Sunday, where vendors sell clothes, gifts and many other items. Contact us to learn about our favorite eateries around town.
Forte dei Marmi can also be a great home base for many local day trips.
Viareggio is a nearby beach town that is a popular destination.
These are the local mountains from where marble is harvested. The view of the hills from Forte dei Marmi tricks you into thinking that you are close to snow. But what you see is marble. Michelangelo sourced the marble for his masterpieces in these hills! There are some lovely towns at the base of these mountains. Camaiore stretches from the beach to the peak of the Alps south of Forte dei Marmi and, with lakes and hiking trails, offers much in the way of exploring. Pietrasanta is an artsy little town that is known for its sculptors. Another cute town nearby is Seravezza. North of Forte dei Marmi lie the charming towns of Carrara with its cathedral made entirely of marble, and Massa.
One hour drive to the north is the famous coastal area known as Cinque Terre. “Cinque Terre” means 5 towns, whose actual names are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore (in order from north to south). Our favorite town, for its beauty, is Vernazza. But they are all lovely and charming. A popular thing to do here is hike between all 5 towns. This is a full day excursion, but you can shorten it by hopping on and off trains that pass through the towns along the coast. You could also pop down to one of the beaches along the way and play or rent a boat. You can also take a boat taxi from town to town.
These cities can easily be visited in a day trip from Forte dei Marmi. Though it boasts one of the most famous and surreal Italian images (the leaning tower), Pisa is small and can be visited in a relatively short period of time. More time is required for Lucca, an old but surprisingly hip Tuscan town surrounded by a low wall, the top of which can be walked or explored on bicycle.