Five ways Versilia won’t be the Tuscany you expected

By Peter Parkorr, Travelunmasked.com

 

The region of Versilia is a part of northern Tuscany, occupying the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea not far from Pisa and Lucca. With the region of Tuscany being mentioned, you may be thinking of rustic cottages, rolling hills, fragrant meadows and similar. While that is all certainly a part of the Tuscan dream, I had a pleasant but completely different experience on my visit to Versilia…

 

Regions of Italy Map

Regions of Italy Map

 

Here are five attractions people like to visit Versilia for, that aren’t part of the Tuscan stereotype.

Torre del Lago (Puccini)

Torre del Lago Teatro Tuscany

Torre del Lago Teatro, Tuscany – click to view full-size

 

Sometimes called Lago Puccini, this lakeside town was so enchanting to Puccini that he moved here permanently early in his career. The large open air theatre is home to the Puccini Festival, no doubt a spectacular way to enjoy the finest works of Puccini, who some call Italy’s greatest composer after Verdi. You can visit his house, unchanged since his death in 1924, but no photo’s are allowed inside the grounds. Instead, enjoy a view of the famous lake, and a cheeky snap of an immortal explorer found inhabiting his front garden.

Brass figurine in the garden of Villa Puccini Tuscany

Brass figurine in the garden of Villa Puccini Tuscany

 

View over the lake near Torre del Lago

View over the lake near Torre del Lago

 

 

Grand hotels by the shore

Art Deco and other styles in Viareggio

Art Deco cafe and other styles in Viareggio

 

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 clubs, the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte being a prime example.

Viareggio seafront beach club Amore

Viareggio seafront beach club ‘Amore’

 

Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte rooftop swimming pool, Viareggio

Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte rooftop swimming pool, Viareggio

 

 

The Apuan Alps

View of Versilia coastline from Cervaiole quarry

View of the Versilia coastline from Cervaiole quarry

 

While the Apuan Alps may not be as extreme as their Swiss or French cousins, they make for spectacular views over Versilia within easy driving distance of the beach. Also the birthplace of several types of famous Italian marble, the enormous ‘cathedrals’ left in the mountainside at the Cervaiole quarries are worth a visit, with the added attraction of quick silver mines in Levigliani nearby. But an ‘easy’ drive to the coast on these roads might not be the best term for these beautiful twisting mountain passes…

Winding roads in the Apuan Alps panorama Versilia Tuscany

Winding roads in the Apuan Alps

 

Apuan Alps marble cathedrals - Cervaiole quarry

Apuan Alps marble cathedrals – Cervaiole quarry

 

 

Contemporary Art

Botero sculpture displayed in Pietrasanta

Botero sculpture displayed in Pietrasanta

 

Italy is not unknown for it’s sculpters and artists, but you probably didn’t know how thriving the art scene is in this little town. Presumably catering to the influx of summer tourists, Pietrasanta is famous for it’s arty inhabitants, as evidenced by the variety of art installations, and art for sale. Even the local supermarket has a bronze.

Contemporary lifesize wooden figurine Pietrasanta Versilia

Contemporary lifesize wooden figurine in a Pietrasanta art shop

 

Centre of Pietrasanta with an art installation, Tuscany

An art installation in the centre of Pietrasanta

 

 

A passion for cured meats

Salami and cured meats hanging in Italian Butchery, Gombitelli

Salami and cured meats hanging in the Triglia butchery

 

Ok, maybe cured meats are a part of every Italian stereotype, but you might not expect the traditional family run butcher’s nestled in the hillsides of Versilia. These local businesses say that with a little altitude the air is better for maturing the impressive variety of meats they produce, with the pork itself being sourced from Parma. Come to long-established specialists such as the Triglia family butchery in Gombitelli for a slice of history with your delicious cured-meat of choice.

Capicola cold cuts from the neck of the pig

Capicola cold cuts from the neck of the pig

 

Table of cured meats - prosciutto, salumi, and lots more, Tuscany

Table of cured meats – prosciutto, lardi, salumi, and lots more

 

So if you’re planning a trip to the area, don’t forget these 5 places to visit in Tuscany, before booking that peaceful cottage getaway.

You can see many more photo’s from the region on the Versilia Blog Tour facebook page.

Peter Parkorr

 

The Versilia Blog Tour by WishVersilia was made possible with the help of these sponsors, with accommodation provided in Pietrasanta by Pietrasanta Resort. Special thanks to Serena from WishVersilia for her role in organising the tour.

Image credits:
Italy regional map from Wikimedia Commons
Art Deco cafe building from Conde Nast

 

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