If you were able to create your own little “perfect world”, chances are it would look like the Versilia. The Versilia, in the Tuscan province of Lucca, is a unique Italian treasure, an alluring gem that attracts both holiday visitors and, increasingly, those looking for vacation homes or full-time residences.
Backed by the Apuan Alps, this primarily coastal area is known far-and-wide for its beautiful beaches, fine dining, luxurious homes and exciting night life, and it’s a favorite celebrity playground. The Versilia is steeped in art, culture and history, with an abundance of galleries, museums, and historical architectural delights.
Blessed with a marvelous year-round climate, the Versilia welcomes nature lovers to a scenic wonderland, replete with long stretches of pristine sandy beaches, peaceful walking paths through enchanting pine forests, and hiking trails up into the rugged Apuan Alps. Summer heat and winter chill are both tempered by the protective Alps and by Atlantic currents that course through the Mediterranean. There is enough rainfall to propagate a wide variety of lush vegetation that presents seasonal colors of every hue.
One of the reasons the Versilia is gaining in popularity among those seeking property is that, even though the region retains its exclusive nature, travel to the area is facilitated by proximity to Pisa International Airport, Tuscany’s largest airport, and by rail service, with Viareggio connecting to long-distance lines. Locally, buses are popular for inter-city hops.
Foreign home buyers are often introduced to the area when they arrive as tourists on a beach holiday. The home search, however, often turns inland, where prices drop dramatically, and where the two-story brick and stone houses with their red-tiled roofs epitomize the true flavor of the Tuscan countryside. Yards with garden space and wells for irrigation, and even outdoor ovens for baking bread are all features available in many traditional rural residences. Some homes have threshers in the courtyard, and the entire region is infused with the authentic taste of Italy. Our Gate-Away.com listings display all the finest properties for sale in Tuscany, showing you the way to your own Tuscan dream.
The coastal strip is dotted with resort areas, each with its own personality and charm. Among the best known are the following:
Lido di Camaiore: Exquisite parks and squares with gardens and fountains accented by many artistic installations mark the nature of Lido di Camaiore, with its grand villas and elegant boulevards. The gracious lifestyle here is appreciated by well-heeled residents and visitors who need travel no further than the city center to find all the essentials for comfortable living.
Forte dei Marmi: This picturesque resort town caters to the rich and the famous. Exclusive private beach clubs are interspersed with ornate villas. Try one of barman Lorenzo’s famous Whiskey Bellini’s at the Bar Ritz before donning your dining and dancing shoes and dropping in at La Capannina, â€œThe Shedâ€, reputed to be the world’s oldest still-active nightclub. In 1929, hotelier Achille Franceschi converted a seaside toolshed into a small bar with a few card tables, and he played dance music on a gramophone. The night spot caught on and its reputation grew as it hosted such illustrious international performers as Edith Piaf and Ray Charles and stellar Italian luminaries, including Patty Bravo and Fred Bongusto.
A special tip for savvy shoppers: don’t be fooled when someone calls Forte dei Marmi’s Wednesday outdoor bazaar a “flea market”. Designer labels and fashions at unheard-of discounts are available in large supply. “Prada” spoken here.
Viareggio: Second in population in the region, behind only Lucca, this city of more than 60,000 inhabitants is an active shipbuilding port, and it is also home to a lively fishing industry and bustling commercial floriculture.
Since 1873, Viareggio has played host to what has become one of the most famous celebrations in the world, the Carnivale di Viareggio. With parades presided over by Viareggio’s clown-like mascot, Burlamacco, the month-long spectacular begins each year on Ash Wednesday, and it draws visitors from around the world.
Pietrasanta: The long beautiful beach at Marina di Pietrasanta is in contrast to some of its glitzier neighbors in the Versilia. Instead of being dominated by huge high-rise hotels, the beach at Marina di Pietrasanta is marked by family-style trattorias, villas and pensiones, and the reliable wave action has long been a lure for surfers.
The arts flourish here, and sculptors are particularly fond of the beautiful local marble. Michelangelo loved to work with marble from the area, and the high-quality stone helped bring Pietrasanta to prominence during the 15th century.