You've thought a lot about your Tuscan vacation and looked at the top places to go in Tuscany, but maybe you didn't know about Tuscany's fine beaches.
In the area of northwestern Tuscany called Versilia, there is a line of beaches that Italians flock to in summer, extending from the Bocca di Magra (mouth of the Magra River) near Lerici almost to the Arno River near Pisa. These Tuscan beaches are characterized by clean water (certified blue flag beaches) and interesting villages and have a background of the stunning Apuan Alps, the mountains that have been known for marble production since Roman times.
A Word About Italian Beaches:
Before we look at which beaches to visit, let's take a look at the Italian beach scene in general. You may be surprised that many of Italy's best beaches are commercial, meaning you have to pay to use them (or stay at a hotel that includes a beach). The deal is, you rent a place on the beach for a while from one of the bagni. You get the use of changing rooms, toilets, and usually a locker for your street clothes and snack bar.
See more about going to the beach in Italy or continue reading to see the map and discover where to go on the Versilia coast.
Map of Northern Tuscany's Versilia Coast with Top Places to Go
Marina di Carrara: Below the marble producing city of Carrara, Marina di Carrara is a modern seaside resort with a soft sandy beach stretching between water and pines. You can take a tour of the marble quarries above and visit a marble museum in the morning, then bathe in the sea later.
Marina di Massa: In addition to the beach at Marina di Massa, there's lots of cultural activity and several great seafood restaurants. Marina di Massa organizes a farewell ceremony for the tourists at the end of the season, culminating in fireworks. Inland is the city of Massa with a castle and small but interesting historic center.
Ronchi (and Poveromo): Since 1988 the International Prize “San Domenichino” honors the saint of Saragozza, and has been transformed in an international Literary Prize that attracts the artsy types. Smaller beaches, lots of villas.
Forte dei Marmi: Literally Marble Fort, Forte dei Marmi is famous for its weekly and stylish clothing market and is probably the most upscale of the Versilia beach towns. Santa Maria beach is one of the best beaches along this part of the coast.
Marina di Pietrasanta features a sandy beach stretching for about 5 kilometers (nearly 2 miles). The historic art town of Pietrasanta, just a little inland, is home to sculptors and artists. It has a large and lively piazza with several cafes, good restaurants, small shops, a castle, and both a sculpture museum and an archaeology museum. There's a bike path between the town and the beach.
Torre di Lago Puccini holds a summer Puccini festival with operas, concerts, and ballets performed in an open-air theater by the lake. You can visit Puccini's villa and the lake itself is a peaceful vacation spot. Marina di Torre del Lago on the sea has a top gay beach. See the Torre del Lago Travel Guide.
Viareggio, Tuscany Seaside Resort Town
Viareggio is one of the most famous seaside resorts on the Versilia coast and the largest beach town in Tuscany. Viareggio is known for its Liberty-style architecture and is famous for the Carnevale di Viareggio, a huge parade of allegorical floats held 5 weekends each winter during Carnevale season that attracts more than a million visitors.
Viareggio also has a long seaside promenade, lots of seafood restaurants, great nightlife in summer, and shopping. Frequent trains connect Viareggio to Lucca, the spa town of Montecatini Terme, and Florence.
For customized tours of Versilia, we recommend WishVersilia.
Beyond Versiilia: Ligurian Seaside Towns Near Tuscany
In the Liguria region, we love the interesting little city of Sarzana with lots of good restaurants, gelato, a castle, and an evening passeggiata. The charming village of Lerici is part of the Gulf of Poets. Wander picturesque Portovenere or visit the famous Cinque Terre just beyond.