Forte dei Marmi_Apuan Coast_Villa Italy

Tuscany for your next Italian beach escape? Here’s why…

When one thinks of Tuscany it’s normally of rolling hills and picturesque villages, the fabulous cities of Florence, Pisa and Siena; a region rich in artistic and gastronomical heritage. So much art, so much history, it’s easy to forget that Tuscany also has a whole lot going for it down on the coast.

Boasting one of Italy’s most spectacular and diverse coastlines, the Tuscan coast stretches for 250 miles, shifting from stripy deck chair chic, to swathes of unspoilt dunes, and the rocky bays and coves where languid yachts drop anchor and bask in the crystalline waters of the Mediterranean, under the warm Italian sun.

It doesn’t get much better than a Tuscany beach holiday, and if you need more convincing, we’ve rolled everything Tuscany has to offer into one trip, and voila we present the perfect Italian beach holiday.

Versatile Versilia

Affectionately known as the Tuscan Riviera, the coastline of Versilia in the northwestern corner of Lucca, is popular with fashionistas, captains of industry and those looking for a super cool summer beach hangout. The coast attracts visitors for its golden sandy beaches, and calm seas, nightlife and boutique shopping. And there’s plenty of all of that in the quintessentially Italian town of Forte dei Marmi.

Forte dei Marmi is also an excellent base for those who want to explore the rest of the Versilia region during their stay. The town provides the perfect Tuscan holiday base, combining beach chic with the opportunity to explore the highlights of Tuscany’s culturally rich interior. Florence, the birthplace of the renaissance movement is just 90 minutes drive, and in no time at all you could be gazing at the leaning tower of Pisa, or wandering the ancient streets of Lucca, both are under 40 minutes away by car.

If you don’t want to stray too far from home, there is plenty to see and do along the coast. The town of Pietrasanta might only be 15 minutes drive from Forte dei Marmi, but the town is a world apart from the glitz of the coast. Known as the Little Athens of Italy, Pietrasanta is a charming medieval town, set between the Apuan Alps and the Mediterranean sea. Since the 12th century artists have come from far and wide, originally inspired by the Versilia artistic marble-working tradition, this is where Michelangelo learnt his trade.

Viareggio, Tuscany

The coast of Versilia also has a history steeped in art and culture, the main seaside resort of Viareggio dates back to the 13th century, and was the original port city, with an old fort that protected the Versilia region from marauders. Four centuries later and the old port town developed into a fashionable tourist destination thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister, Paolina Borghese. The town is also celebrated for its artistic heritage, and for one of the world’s most colourful and spectacular carnivals.

The Apuan Coast

Sandwiched between the Apuan Alps and the Mediterranean, the Apuan coastline is the favoured destination for those seeking the ultimate Italian beach vacation.

To the northern end of the Apuan coastline, the landscape shifts dramatically from overhanging cliffs, which dip down to the azure sea, to wide stretches of sand. The views are breathtaking: a panorama of mountains and Mediterranean, dotted with seaside villages and traditional Tuscan villas. High class resorts aside, the Apuan coastline is also rich in the culture and traditions of Tuscany.

The beach resort town of Forte dei Marmi is one of the highlights in this symbiosis of Mediterranean charm. It is one of the most exclusive holiday destinations in Italy, which means you’ll be rubbing shoulders with VIPs, movie actors, fashion royalty; maybe even an opera singer or two…

Tuscan Hill Towns & Countryside

Piazza Anfiteatro, Lucca

Piazza Anfiteatro, Lucca

It’s easy to fill up your holiday with beach, art, architecture and culture when you travel to Tuscany, but we highly recommend you take a day or two to explore Tuscany’s interior, with its medieval villages surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Set amongst undulating hills and Cypress forests.

If you are staying in Forte dei Marmi take your pick and visit any of these beautiful Tuscan hill towns in under two hours:

Calci (50 mins)

Poor Calci had no choice but be caught up in the medieval wars between Florence and Siena, being strategically in between the two. Lying at the foot of Monti Pisani, the farming commune of Calci is a peaceful town, surrounded by terraces of olive groves and overlooked by Monte Serra. On a clear day you can see to Pisa and the islands of the Tuscan archipelago.

Orrido di Botri (1hr)

Set in a nature reserve of extreme beauty, Orrido di Botri is a canyon gorge that has been carved out of the limestone landscape over many centuries. The scenery is spectacular, walk along the dry riverbed from Ponte a Gaio, along to the gorge itself.

Barga_Tuscany_Villa Italy

Barga (1hr20)

How to describe Barga ? Renaissance architecture and Florentine Duomo backed by snowy Alpine hills with a twist.

The twist? Scottish red phone boxes and fish and chip festivals!

Photo of Barga.

Lucca (31 minutes)

Visit Lucca just to marvel at the encircling Renaissance stone bulwark, the best preserved example in all of Tuscany. The walls are covered in Cypress and Eucalyptus trees, and capped in greenery, making it entirely walkable.

Fosdinovo (43 mins)

In the heart of the Apuan Alps, lies the charming town of Fosdinovo. There is so much to love about Fosdinovo: spectacular views to the Tyrrhenian Sea, charming trattorias, serving

Tuscan cuisine

Tagliatelle Tartufo

Stop the press! There is no such thing as Italian cuisine. Each Italian region has its own cuisine, its own emblematic dishes, and here in Tuscany, the accent is on rustic fare, Cucina Povera (poor/peasant cooking). ‘Poor’ in name, but so rich and flavourful. Simple ingredients and inexpensive local ingredients make the most hearty of stews, soups and pasta dishes.

Ok, we admit that there are certain dishes that are enjoyed all over Italy. In Tuscany, as in many other regions, meals might commence with antipasto of cured meats, or a simple platter of cured meats (affettati misti); another popular starter is crostini di fegato – finely sliced toast with liver pate.

Delicious Ribollita

In Italy, soup isn’t always a starter, in the cooler months, it can also be served as a healthy and hearty main course. Try ribollita – a typical vegetable and bread soup, Pappa al Pomodoro, a delicious tomato soup, or zuppa di fagioli (Cannellini bean soup).

In fact it’s unusual to find a menu without Cannellini beans in Tuscany. The Tuscans are affectionately known as mangiafagioli (bean eaters). Fagioli con salsiccia is one such dish, made with Cannellini beans and Tuscan sausage. Divino!

Don’t worry if you are a #pastaphile. There are plenty of delicious pasta dishes on the local menus. Tagliatelle al tartufo (above), pasta covered with truffle sauce is one of the region’s prized pasta dishes.

Tuscany Festivals

Carnevale di Viareggio

When in Tuscany, it would be rude not to seek out one of the region’s many festivals that take place throughout the year. You might even want to plan your trip around one, as the festivals of Tuscany are a highlight for many towns, some dating back to medieval times.

If you come alive in a carnival atmosphere, head to the Viareggio Carnevale (above), which takes place in February and March. The carnival is world renown for its massive paper maché floats, which are designed and built each year.

One of our favourites is the Palio di Siena, or Il Palio. A horse race that takes place twice a year, 2nd July and 16th August, in Siena’s Piazza del Campo. Each year ten riders, representing 10 of the city’s wards of the city, ride bareback in Piazza del Campo.

Just 25 minutes from Forte dei Marmi is Torre del Lago, home of the annual Puccini Opera Festival, which takes place through July and August. One of the most important dates on the opera calendar, over 40,000 opera enthusiasts visit the festival each year.

The Bravio delle Botti, a barrel-rolling festival, takes place in Montepulciano during the last week of August.

If you are craving a beach holiday. Italy and the Tuscan coast beckon. Villa Monti di Luna, in Forte dei Marmi is the perfect luxury vacation base from which to explore the best of Italian art, culture and cucina Toscana.  

beach forte dei marmi_Villa Italy

Exclusive Italy: Forte dei Marmi

beach forte dei marmi_Villa Italy

Well heeled Italians flock to Forte dei Marmi on the Tuscan coast for their summer holidays. The resort is fast becoming the luxury travel destination for European and Russian tourists. Here’s why.

Gorgeous beaches, handsome villas, luxury shopping, safe environment and the stunning Apuan Alps as a backdrop. The most chic resort on the Versilia Riviera exudes laid-back elegance, attracting the crème de la crème of business and industry, for which the town represents a place to enjoy some downtime with their families.

Glamour aside, there is a long-standing love affair between Forte dei Marmi and the aristocrats of art and culture. From Michelangelo to Puccini, Henry Moore to Aldous Huxley, this has been the summer residence of choice for many artists, composers and writers for centuries. In fact Forte dei Marmi is bang on trend whatever century we happen to be in.

It was Michelangelo that first brought attention to the area back in the early 16th century, when Forte dei Marmi was primarily just a small village with a port that was used to ship the white marble of Carrara to destinations far and wide. The materia prima was used to sculpt many of the artist’s renowned works, including David. He was pivotal in creating the Via del Marmo, the route that linked Carrara to the port and became smitten with the town.

Jump forward to the 21st century. Sunshine glitters off the Tyrrhenian Sea and bounces off the white Carrara marble of the town’s sculptures. Happy people wander through the historic centre: past classic-style villas – perhaps owned by Giorgio Armani or Andrea Bocelli (yes, both have residences here); past the exclusive boutiques where luxury shoppers max out on their platinum credit cards; past deliciously expensive restaurants and family-friendly trattorias, through the pretty piazzas and cobbled passageways that lead to the 18th century fort, that gives Forte dei Marmi (marble fort) its name.

beach huts_bagni forte dei marmi_villa italy

Scooters zip in and out of cruising Bentleys, and families pedal through town and along the promenade, as life blissfully passes by without a care in the world!

During the high season months – from May through to September – locals and visitors head to the exquisite golden sand beaches, which stretch for seven kilometres along the coast of Forte dei Marmi. The town’s beach is segregated into Bagnis, family-run beach restaurants, which extend to offer services to attend to your every whim.

Monti di luna_villa italy_Forte dei Marmi

Villa Monti di Luna

Each Bagni has a row of tendas (beach huts), which stand to attention along the back of the beach. The pastel shade huts lend a certain vintage charm to the scene. Sunbeds, parasols and striped canopies are also for hire, and of course there is a beach restaurant serving up local specials, cocktails and refreshments. Heading to a bagni makes for a perfectly sophisticated and very proper day on the beach.

Forte dei Marmi is an excellent beach vacation destination for families. The beaches are patrolled by lifeguards, and the golden sands gently shelve down to the calm sea. Our exquisite villa, Monti di Luna, is situated just 10 minutes walk from the bagni Arturo and a minutes’ walk from Tennis Club Milano.

Late afternoons or early evenings are best spent strolling along the charming promenade and across the pontile (long pier). A handmade gelato for company, as the sun sets and the air is laden with the salty scent of the sea. Protocol in Forte dei Marmi is to enjoy an aperitivo before dinner. A glass of wine or cocktail, accompanied by a stuzzichino – a little appetizer to whet one’s tastes buds before heading off for some spaghetti con le arselle or a grigliata mista di pesce.  Buon appetito!

It’s not mandatory to explore Tuscany during your vacation. Forte dei Marmi is a beach vacation resort and there is plenty enough to do in town, with the shopping, the beach clubs, the eating and drinking, and of course hanging out with the cool Italian scene. But if one should decide to take a day out of town, there’ll be spoilt for choice.

Pier pontile Forte dei Marmi_villa italy

In day trip distance is the Renaissance town of Lucca, or Pietrasanta (“città d’arte”), with its delightful ancient art quarter, which plays host to open-air art exhibitions and is home to many fine art galleries; the UNESCO World Heritage site of Pisa, and the fabulous five seaside villages of the Cinque Terre in Liguria. Or head to the interior to explore the beauty of the Apuan Alps. The region is dotted with walking and hiking paths, which will take you far away from the glamour of Forte dei Marmi and into ancient woodlands.

Why not follow in the footsteps of the great Michelangelo if you are heading into the Apuan Alps. Following the marble road (via del marmo) that leads from Carrara to Colonnata, where you can wander at marble cathedrals that shine with their own light, bridges suspended in the void where the imposing marble railway passed and a colossal mountain, which chunk by chunk is disappearing.

Forte dei Marmi is elegant without the fuss, chic without the snob, as only the Italians know how. It’s effortless and wonderful, and somehow manages to deliver whether you’re part of the jet set, or simply a family looking to experience an Italian riviera vacation.