With summer on the horizon, we’ve got sun and surf on the brain. So, in the coming weeks and months, we plan to highlight the beaches of Italy.
First up is Tuscany, which has some of the most pleasant beaches you’ll find anywhere. While Tuscany’s beaches are hardly a secret – for example, Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi can be PACKED in July – they are typically less congested than Florence, Siena, and the tourist routes. We can’t profile every single beach for you, but here is a run-down that we have compiled from our research for the Unofficial Guide to Central Italy.
The Riviera Versilia
Tuscany’s most famous stretch of strand, framed by the marble-topped Apuan Alps, is called the Riviera Versilia, and it features the chic resort of Forte dei Marmi (considered the “Hamptons” of Tuscany), the “Carnevale” town of Viareggio, and smaller seaside areas like Lido di Camaiore and Marina di Pietrasanta. Versilia is popular in the region because, unlike many coastal areas south, it has a sandy shore. Yet, despite its popularity, Versilia has a ton of blue flag beaches, too. For more information, check out the Versilia Tourism website.
The Tuscan Archipelago
Many travelers forget that Tuscany has its own little set of islands to explore. The Tuscan Archipelago includes Isola del Giglio, a moutainous island that has facilities for windsurfing and scuba and Isola di Giannutri, also rocky but suitable for snorkeling and nature treks. Another of the seven islands of the Archipelago is Montecristo, the setting for Dumas’ classic The Count of Montecristo; Montecristo is open to tourists only with permission from the Italian Government. Of course, the mother of all islands of the Archipelago is Elba, itself famous for being where Napoleon was once exiled. Among the other isles, Elba has the most hospitable beaches, plenty of restaurants and nightlife, and numerous connections to the mainland via ferry. More information about Elba and its sisters is available from the Arcipelago Toscano website. You may also be interested in these articles: Seeking Exile in Elba (The Washington Post) and Italy’s Undiscovered Islands (Travel and Leisure).
The Etruscan Riviera
Inland from the Archipelago, the Riviera Etrusca is the place to go in Tuscany if you’re looking for a more natural beach getaway. Stretching from Livorno to Piombino, this strand is mostly rocky, but has some sandy shores around Marina di Cecina and Castiglioncello. As the name implies, you can also spend time investigating Etruscan ruins along the coast and inland among the pine groves. For more info on the Etruscan Riviera, check out the Costa degli Etruschi website.
While traditionally the Maremma is considered to consist of mostly farmland, it does have a number of seaside towns, most of which are frequented by beachhouse owners from Tuscany and Lazio. But, coastal Maremma does have a little something for everyone: families will like Follonica and Marina di Grosseto; chic resort-goers can choose from Porto Santo Stefano or Porto Ercole (both on the Promontorio dell’Argentario) or Punta Ala. Meanwhile, the interior pastureland and the Parco dell’Uccellina, which contains some untamed sandy beaches with craggy cliffs, are great for nature lovers. For more information on the beaches of the Maremma Coast, see the Official Website of the Maremma and the website for the Comune di Monte Argentario.
Photo by Roby Ferrari