Why visit Viareggio?:
Viareggio is the southernmost Italian Riviera style resort on Italy's Mediterranean coast and the largest beach town in Tuscany. Art nouveau buildings housing shops, cafes, and seafood restaurants line its promenade. There are several good art nouveau, or Liberty style, villas in town. Although Viareggio was at its peak as a resort in the 1920's, it's still a top Tuscan town for beaches, seafood, and nightlife. It's also known for holding one of Italy's top carnevale, or mardi gras, festivals.
Viareggio is on Italy's west coast in the area of Tuscany known as the Versilia Coast. (see Versilia map
) It's about halfway between La Spezia and Livorno and 70 miles west of Florence.
Viareggio is on the train line that runs along the coast between Genoa and Rome. It's just off the A12 autostrada that runs along the coast from the French border. The closest airport is Pisa, about 15 miles away. (see Italy airports map
Viareggio holds one of the largest and most celebrated carnival festivals in Italy, drawing over a million people. The elaborate parade, running along the seafront promenade, is usually held the three Sundays before carnevale
, the day of carnevale
(Shrove Tuesday), and the Sunday following. Admission is charged for the parades. Theater, music, masked balls and other events are held during the carnival season, too. There's even a carnival museum in town (see attractions below). See pictures and get more information in Vaireggio Carnival Parade Photos
Viareggio Summer Festivals:
Cittadella Jazz and More is a festival of concerts during summer from mid-June through mid-August. Theater and dance performances are held during summer, too. The summer Puccini Opera Festival is held at Torre di Lago Puccini near town.
Many hotels are found near the beach and some have rooms with sea views or private beaches. Several hotels are historic hotels or are housed in art nouveau buildings. Here are the top guest-rated Viareggio hotels
- The coast is lined with privately owned sandy beaches. For a price, you get a beach chair and umbrella and use of facilities like changing rooms. The sea is usually calm and good for swimming.
Promenade - A seafront promenade lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants runs between the beach and town. It's the place to see and be seen, especially during the evening passeggiata (passeggiata definition).
Pineta di Ponente - The large pinewood park, just two blocks from the beach, is a good place for walking and escaping the sun.
Piazza Shelley - One of the town squares is named for the poet Shelley who drowned nearby off the coast in 1822.
Villa Paolina - Named for Napolean's sister, this is one of several art nouveau villas in town. Villa Paolina is near Piazza Shelley.
Museo Cittadella del Carnevale - The Carnival Citadel Museum has an exhibition of floats, masks, carnival postcards, and other memorabilia related to carnevale. It's currently open Saturday and Sunday afternoons and admission is free.