Well, I have to admit that I didn’t know much about Viareggio, except sticking to the idea of a seaside city for summer holidays. And I was really pleased to discover its hidden side thanks to VersiliaBlogTour and Serena of WishVersilia.
Viareggio and the Liberty-style
Viareggio is probably the most beautiful example of Liberty-style in Tuscany. Walking around you can see incredible buildings, beautifully decorated with precious pottery. As a matter of fact since 19th century became an important tourist destination for the European high society.
The center and the seaside promenade are full of important buildings decorated by famous artists as Galileo Chini (coming from Mugello) and Alfredo Belluomini, dating back to the beginning of 20th century. Some of the greatest and unconventional examples of the Liberty style are Hotel Villa Tina, that preserves inside its original look with flowered-decorated windows and furniture and mosaic pavements, the Villino Amor, with cupids and flowered-pottery decorations on the facade, and Villini Chizzolini, with peculiar decorations of ceramic panels illustrating caravels at sea.
Other particular and unconventional buildings are the so-called Villino “Il Guscio” (the shell) in via D’Annunzio, with its particular shape and lovely balcony on the first floor, the Villino, with flowered-pottery decorations by Chini and Villino Nistri, with peculiar oriental decorations inspired to Islamic art.
The Royal residence: Villa Borbone
Viareggio has its own Versailles, Villa Borbone, located outside the center inside the Park Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli. The building dates back to 1821 following the design of Architect Lorenzo Nottolini of Viareggio for the Duchess of Lucca, Maria Luisa Borbone, that transformed Viareggio into an important seaside destination.
The elegant country home has a large central body with three floors, that was the main residence and that hosts the museum with original costumes and furniture, and two lateral buildings that were used as stables and storehouse. Next to the main building there is the Sepolcreto Chapel, preserving the tombs of the some notables family members of the Borbone from Parma.
The villa is surrounded by a large park and in the front yard you can listen to classical music, since part of the park has been transformed into a musical garden. The villa is open to the public and organizes several events, such as concerts and weddings. For more information visit the official site of Villa Borbone.
The wild Viareggio
I was really surprised by the Park of San Rossore Massciuccoli here in Viareggio. I would have never thought of such a wild area in Versilia and I was really stunned. The area nearby Villa Borbone, divided into Tenuta Borbone and the marquis Lucchese, is a large western pinewood with peculiar marshes, called “lame”, that look like the rain forest!
All the area is well equipped and signaled with special signs illustrating the history, the flora and fauna. Following the paths you can then the beach, characterized by dunes, fine sand and a large shore. Actually the area is one of the few free beaches in Viareggio. In addition you can usually meet fishermen, especially those looking for the typical beans clams.
Eating & Sleeping
Viareggio is renowned for its fish and its good restaurants. Something really unconventional though is eating the typical fishes from Viareggio, that are generally called poor fishes. I had the chance to eat at Ristorante la Posteria, specialized into local food, using only organic products. It also offers a special menu for celiac people. The chef Federica is really passionate and is amazing to watch her preparing your lunch/dinner.
Then for a cozy accommodation I suggest B&B Arsella, close to the sea and to main attractions. It’s the perfect location for families with children, but also for women traveling alone and who wants to meet local people and have a special stay thanks to Luciana, the owner.