Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea
It is the foamy waves from the Tyrrhenian on one side and the stark white marble peaks of Massa Carrara on the other which give way for the nickname Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The access to the sea has always been one of the primary characteristics of Viareggio, causing most of its ups and downs throughout history. Today it reigns as the second largest city in the province of Lucca, and during the season of Carnival and the summer months, its population explodes with visitors far and wide who come to stay at one of the many hotels, tempted by the colors, the energy, the sandy beaches and the delectable menu of fish.
Initially built as the port to the city of Lucca, competing with that of Pisa, the town of Viareggio didn’t really grow into the definition of a full-fledged city until the 1800’s where it started to take on a more permanent and residential feel about it. There are a little over 10km of sandy beaches between the private and public areas in this town along the coast of the Versilia though most of the public beaches are within the beautiful Parco Naturale Regionale Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli.
In the 20th century the first nucleus of the 3 km long “La Passeggiata” began to take shape, a wide road running parallel to the beach decorated with gelato stores, caffès and park benches in the “liberty style.” This is still the place to stroll for good restaurants, sandy beaches and local shopping. These were the very caffè that Giacomo Puccini would sit at and it was also the very place where inventors of the Carnival - Tuscany style met and dreamed up the idea of 4 weeks of floats and customs!