The Versilia is known for its endless beaches of fine sand, its well-equipped resorts full of colourful rows of umbrellas, and its nightly entertainment in the summertime. But the Versilia is much more than this: the area boasts many alternative itineraries off the beaten path. So, shun the stereotypes and follow one of our own!
Visit the new theatre near Lake Massaciuccoli, dedicated to Giacomo Puccini, followed by the Villa Puccini Museum, Puccini’s former home where he composed most of his operas, conserving all the things in their original locations and even the piano he used. You can also arrange a visit to Villa Orlando, where civil weddings are celebrated. Take a boat ride across the lake, where you'll find Roman ruins. But there’s also the lush LIPU Oasis and the Massaciuccoli Romana archeological area.
The journey continues to Pieve a Elici, situated on the hill top in Massarosa; there, you can visit the Parish Church of San Pantaleone, rebuilt in the 12th century over the ruins of an earlier medieval building. Next, go to Corsanico and visit its church: let your eyes adjust to the Rococo-style interior, then look up to admire Vincenzo Colonna’s “Monumental” organ, built between 1602 and 1606. If you want to hear it work, we recommend timing your visit for the music festival in July and August.
Visit Villa Borbone, an extensive noble residence with stalls, staff quarters, store rooms and a mausoleum where the members of the Borbone royal family from Lucca are buried. Then take a walk through the pine woods to reach the wild beach covered in Mediterranean scrub. You can also go on a walking tour around the harbour, long frequented by fishermen. In the afternoon, we suggest a Liberty-style itinerary through the city centre in order to discover the varied silhouettes of the façades, the polychrome ceramic decorations, wrought iron balusters and marble ornaments. Viareggio is home to so many different styles because a range of architectural experiments were explored here in the early 1900s. Among them are Villino Flora, Villa il Guscio, Villino “Amor Vincit Omnia”, Villino Chizzolini and more. For a perfect end to the day, go to Hotel Principe di Piemonte for an aperitivo on the terrace, where you'll have a stunning view of both the seaside and the mountains.
Take a walk through the centre of Camaiore, a small town with Roman origins that lies at the foot of the Apuan Alps. Visit the Museum of Sacred Art and the town’s many historically important buildings, including the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, which has a Latin-cross plan that dates to 1260. Visit the Church of San Lazzaro, with its beautiful cloister, and the austere Abbey of San Pietro, founded around the 8th century. Then go to Gombitelli, a small hamlet that vaunts scenic landscapes and gastronomic delicacies like “pink lard”. Now it's time to digest: walk along the via Francigena from Montemagno to Pontemazzori, following in the footsteps of centuries of pilgrims that have come before you.
This is the “highest” itinerary, so be sure to wear proper clothes for a mountain trip. The first stage is a visit to the Henraux marble quarries on the Cervaiole hills along the northern slopes of Monte Altissimo in the Apuan Alps. Workers still quarry the marble and the views from there are stunning. You can then have lunch in Azzano and visit the Monte Altissimo School of Sculpture. End the journey with a visit to the Medici Palace in Seravezza, today home to the town’s public library and the Museum of Work and Folk Traditions of Historic Versilia, and is a space for important contemporary and modern art exhibitions.
Visit some of the artisan workshops that have remained in the area, including shoemakers, jewellers, pastry shops and cosmetics makers, just to name a few. Visit the centre of Pietrasanta and its cathedral, then walk up to Rocca di Sala for a fantastic view. Next, go to Forte dei Marmi for an hour or two of luxury shopping. End the day with a plunge into the sea and anaperitivo at one of the numerous beach resorts.