Discover the never-ending treasures of art, architecture, landscape and food in magical Versilia, ItalyWords Nikki Beach Global
With the Apuan mountains as a backdrop, showcasing their impressive, marble-capped peaks, Pietrasanta lies at the foot. A historical town where mountains and sea meet, it’s a must-visit destination for those who love high fashion and high living.
Home of Nikki Beach Versilia, Pietrasanta, along with neighboring Forte dei Marmi, are two of the chicest and most up-to-date towns in the Versilia region. The small towns attract tourists from all over the world – including the Hollywood elite – every year thanks to its beautiful beach, elegant villas immersed in pine groves and the majestic Alps behind.
Named after its river, Versilia as a destination has the sea at heart. Celebrities and VIPs have been lured to its beaches since the term Tuscan Riveria became a thing!
Versilia is seemingly unaware of its own beauty and refreshingly, so too are the people who come here. The coast may be a playground for the rich and famous but a relaxed spirit prevails. Where fast and ridiculously-priced cars are the norm in most luxury beach resorts, the preferred mode of transport for locals (and savvy tourists) here, is a good old-fashioned pushbike.
The potential for brash coastal bling is wonderfully- tempered by huge helpings of culture, history and hospitality.
Colored umbrellas arranged in straight lines make for envy-inducing Instagram shots, and nighttime entertainment in the summer is what brings in the big guns.
Versilia is a part of Tuscany in the north-western province of Lucca, and is named after the Versilia river. However, known for its fashionable Riviera resorts, Versilia certainly bucks the traditional Tuscan stereotype. The rustic cottages, rolling hills, fragrant meadows and rooftop towns are still present, but this is a Tuscan dream with a different ending. Versilia occupies the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the beaches are something to marvel at.
ABOVE: From streets lined with whitewashed, stucco hillside houses dripping in bougainvillea, to historic imprints and a rich cultural past, Versilia has it all.
What we’ve got
Sea versus mountains, entertainment versus relaxation, Versilia is a place where the ingredients can be carefully selected depending on your appetite.
Forte dei Marmi is a stone’s throw away for an hour or two of luxury shopping but don’t forget to end the day with a plunge into the sea and an aperitif in one of the sand-lined beach bars. Visit some of the artisan workshops that have remained in the area including shoe makers, jewelry designers, 100-year-old pastry shops, and local cosmetic producers. For those feeling a little more energetic, head to the center of Pietrasanta and set your mind for a walk/hike up to Rocca di Sala where the views are simply fantastic. These mountains are a geological rarity, made completely of marble. No other part of the world boasts such an enormous concentration of this precious material and it makes for a special experience with nature.
A trip to Torre del Lago is also a must. Sometimes called Lago Puccini, this lakeside town was so enchanting to the composer Giacomo Puccini that he moved here permanently early in his career. There’s a large open air theater, home to the Puccini Festival, which is globally renowned as the most spectacular way to enjoy the finest works of one of Italy’s greatest composers. You can visit the house of Puccini, which has remained unchanged since his death in 1924, but don’t get snap happy as no photographs can be taken inside the grounds.
Brave the twisting mountain passes of the Apuan Alps by car and the fruits of your labor are plentiful. The range may not be as impressive as its Swiss or French cousins, but the fact it is just a short drive from the beaches is definitely a plus.
The home of several types of famous Italian marble, the Cervaiole Quarries are worth a visit to see the enormous ‘cathedrals’ left in the mountainside. If you have time, there’s also a great deal to see at the silver mines in nearby Levigliani.
The art scene thrives in Versilia and even the local supermarket in Pietrasanta has its own bronze sculpture. Catering heavily for the onslaught of summer tourists, Pietrasanta is famous for its arty shops, galleries and cafés. A variety of art installations, and art for sale, is available from the most exclusive stores to humble street stalls.
Take a boat ride on the lake and reach the other side, where you’ll find Roman ruins. In this old hamlet, you can visit not only the lush LIPU Oasis, as well as the Guglielmo Lera Pavilion and the Massaciuccoli Romana archeological area.
- Season May 11 – September 8 2019
- Airport Pisa International Airport (PSA)
- Boat Coordinates 43.918984 10.204514″
- Time Zone GMT +1
- Currency Euro
- Language Italian, English
- Electrics 230Volts, 50Hz
When to go
Sea, mountain, shops, parties, villages, water sports, hiking and good food – there really is something to suit all tastes. But it’s better when the sun is shining.
Italians have flocked to beach resorts on their summer holidays for well over a hundred years. In contrast to those images of rustic cottages in the countryside, towns like Viareggio are full of wonderful old hotel buildings with iconic architectural styling. Many of them still operate as hotels today, along busy promenades filled with restaurants and beach bars. Forte dei Marmi is a small village by the Tuscan coast, a hidden gem in Versilia, that comes alive in July and August. It’s a place where inspired travelers from around the world meet the best Italian tradition, along with the most acclaimed brands that have several flagship stores here.
The climate of the Versilia coast is mild, but all things considered, given its position close to the Apuan Alps, is greatly influenced by the humid Atlantic currents that contrast with the nearby mountain, bringing just the right amount of rainfall. The mid-year months enjoy very comfortable weather with high temperatures that keep folk on the beaches from dawn to dusk. When it’s tough to find space a good alternative is to check out the annual Lucca Summer Festival, an event that attracts famous names from both the Italian and international music scene. Visit the church at Corsanico and let your eyes adjust to the Rococo style, then look up to admire Vincenzo Colonna’s ‘Monumental’ organ, built between 1602 and 1606. It’s only played during the festival so you’ll witness something very special. Visit the parish church of San Pantaleone, rebuilt in the 12th century upon the remains of an earlier medieval building or head to Pieve a Elici, situated on the hill top of Massarosa, for spectacular views.
When you’re done with the hills, chestnut woods, olive groves, forest, valleys, picturesque mills, ancient medieval villages and great marble quarries, make hay while the sun shines and explore the parks. Versilia boasts some fabulous green parks in Migliarino, St.Rossore, Massaciuccoli, and the Park of the Apuane Alps. Summer events are endless with fairs, concerts and festivals, making Versilia one of the most popular destinations for both Italian and international visitors.
ABOVE: Foundries, marble and mosaic workshops, art galleries, bars and restaurants make up the majority of Pietrasanta, a lovely town at the foot of the Apuan Alps. Home to Nikki Beach Versilia, it is known as “Little Athens of Italy” because artists including Botero and Mitoraj have worked and lived here.
Where to stay
FORTE DEI MARMI
A new and stylish luxury boutique hotel by the sea, the glass walls and doors give an immediate sensation of space at the Hotel Principe Forte dei Marmi. A selected member of the Leading Hotels of the World you’ll find privacy and intimacy in the 28 rooms furnished by the most acclaimed Italian designers. Rooms boast floor-to-ceiling French windows, parquet flooring, marble bathrooms with glassed walls and The Spatio, a one of a kind suite offering a magical open air concept. Lux Lucis is the fine dining Michelin star restaurant on the rooftop and chef Valentino Cassanelli pairs world class cuisine with fine wines. Relax and recharge at Hotel Principe Forte dei Marmi overlooking the Versilia’s landscape in a spectacular frame between sea and mountains.
FORTE DEI MARMI
An elegant five-star boutique hotel that guarantees guests all the services, modern conveniences and opportunities for relaxation. What makes this luxury hotel even more unique and special is its past, a union of atmospheres, memories, colours and passions that are fully relived in every corner of the structure. The villa in which it is housed is a historic residence located a few metres from the sea, with the spectacular backdrop of the Apuan Alps. The villa was constructed in the first half of the last century at the behest of the Duke of Zoagli, José “Pepito” Caferino Canevaro, an international character with a free and unconventional spirit. It was he who chose the distinguishing “Liberty” or “Art Nouveau” style that characterizes the dwelling, having reigned in Europe between the 19th and early-20th centuries. The charm and elegant style of the villa made inroads into the aristocracy of the time, as a destination of choice. It became a gathering place for high society, and especially for the Savoy family. At the beginning of the 1900s, the residence was transformed into a refined hotel, taking its name from the English poet and politician, George Gordon Noel Byron, who visited the Grand Duchy of Tuscany – and in particular, Pisa and Livorno – between 1821 and 1822. The seafront of Versilia, the green in the surrounds and the exclusivity of the context, all contribute to rendering it even more princely.
Nikki Beach Versilia
Nikki Beach Versilia
Via Lungomare, Roma 96
55045 Marina di Pietrasanta