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Viareggio Promenade

  • Viareggio Promenade

    Commonly known as the “Passeggiata di Viareggio,” the seafront stroll is the best way to appreciate this faded but fun beach resort. Viareggio is big enough to be both a typical beach resort and a vibrant town with its own cultural life. Part of the resort’s charm lies in its difference: it is neither chic, over-priced, over-hyped Forte dei Marmi nor just another bland strip of bathing establishments, blighted by beachfront development. In short, Viareggio is a pleasing hotchpotch, offering a bit of everything, mostly at reasonable prices. A stroll along the seafront promenade sets the tone of the place, from the bustling beach-life to the cafes and retro architecture.

    Viareggio’s heyday was in the 1920s and 1930s so an air of faded elegance survives in certain striking Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings, mostly built as hotels or bathing establishments. The style, known as Liberty in Italian, features quirky Oriental ornamentation, decorative floral motifs, curved lines and exotic stylistic flourishes. On the Viale Margherita seafront, also known as Passeggiata Mar¬gherita, seek out the Art Nouveau Gran Caffè Margherita, which was Puccini’s favourite haunt. Its glittering Oriental domes are unmissable and the coffee is pretty good, too. If you fall for the Art Nouveau architecture, pick up the `Liberty Style’ guide from the tourist office, which suggests an intriguing itinerary. Remember, too, that beyond period charm, the resort is about seafront strolls, seafood dinners – and even ice cream out of season.

    Address: Gran Caffè Margherita
    Viale Margherita 30
    Tel: 0584 581143

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