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Beach-life, Viareggio-style

  • Viareggio, proud of its golden-sand beachfront and palm-lined promenade, remains the most popular big beach resort in Tuscany. Unlike Forte dei Marmi, it is not about posing where the latest Prada shades can best be appreciated. This is a fun sun-and-sand resort. The beachfront is mostly divided into stabilmenti, or bagni, bathing establishments where you can hire cabanas, sun-loungers and parasols but are still not quite true beach clubs. By the Gran Caffè Margherita (see above) is the entrance to two such bathing establishments, Bagno Amedeo and Bagno Balena, founded in 1873, among the earliest “bagni” in Italy. Bagno Balena boasts five pools, water sports, free WiFi, beach tennis, a proper spa, beach bar, sushi restaurant and kids’ club. Bagno Maurizio (via Giuseppe Barellai) is particularly friendly and good value for families.

    Italian-resort-style, the sea is mostly reached by paying an en¬trance fee, although many “bagni” will let you in if you’re having a coffee or snack. For most non-Italians, the beaches have a regimented feel. Expect to lie on a sunbed among rows of others, on sand carefully raked and flat¬tened for your added comfort. On the other hand, paid access generally assures significant benefits, such as free WiFi, sun-loungers, showers, beach cabins, probably a bar or a restaurant. Beach games may well come with the territory and are even more entertaining to watch than to play. The water is also very clean, despite the crowds. In Viareggio, it’s often worth going in to bathing establishment in the afternoon and negotiating a discount on the sun-loungers. Versilia is now one of Italy’s surfing capitals. Viareggio’s Tito del Molo, in the northern part of the harbour, is particularly favoured by surfers.

    Address: Bagno Balena (bathing establishment)
    Passeggiata di Viareggio

    Tel: 0584 1660853

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