Viareggio, the main city in the Versilia area, is world famous for its Carnival and its long beaches. A holiday in Viareggio is a chance to enjoy the sea on one side and the Apuan Alps on the other. Founded as a seaport for Lucca, the city owes its name to the Via Regis, a medieval road that linked it to the provincial capital. Discovering its beauties is easy, thanks to the holiday packages to Viareggio.
The vast coastline of fine white sand stretches for 10 km, 6 km of which are lined with modern and comfortable bathing establishments. The remaining km of free beach and are part of the Migliarino - San Rossore - Massaciuccoli Regional Nature Park, a protected forest area between the coast and Lake Massaciuccoli, on the shores of which are Giacomo Puccini's house and tomb and an open-air theatre that annually hosts the famous Festival Pucciniano.
The elegant Passeggiata di Viareggio should be a highlight of any itinerary. From the pier, this broad avenue runs along the beach, lined with the city's principle historic Liberty style buildings, which are typical of the city. Many villas from the early 1900s have been refurbished and transformed into beautiful hotels. The coastline has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award many times, attesting to the excellent environmental quality of the beaches and sea. The modern tourism services, elegant architecture, green pine groves between the coast and the city centre and the famous shopping streets make Viareggio a leading destination for refined travellers and lovers of luxury vacations.
Amongst Viareggio's main symbols are the Matilde Tower, a square fortress built to protect the ancient port, and the existing marina, built in the 1800s, which brought new impetus to the city's maritime and shipbuilding, still pillars of Viareggio's economy, together with beach tourism and the famous Carnival celebration. Strolling along Viale Margherita, you can admire the villas and fascinating architectural styles from the last century, like the Gran Caffè Margherita, the Duilio 48 Emporium and the Cinema Savoia, interspersed amongst luxury boutiques and hotels. The central Piazza del Mercato, known as the "Piazzone", is surrounded by traditional shops, artists' workshops producing papier-mâché items and colourful flower shops.
If you plan a holiday in Viareggio to attend the famous Carnival, you'll discover a completely different side of the city, with its allegorical papier-mâché floats and thousands of revellers celebrating in the elegant seaside avenues. During the rest of the year, the huge Carnival floats are moved to the Cittadella del Carnevale, a multi-purpose building that hosts wonderful cultural events, like the Festival Teatro Canzone dedicated to Giorgio Gaber, the Viareggio-Rèpaci Literary Prize and the Cittadella Jazz & More music festival .
The Viareggio Carnival began in 1873 when a group of young people who frequented the Caffè del Casinò launched the idea of a parade of floats and masks along the Viale del Mare. Since then, the floats parade down the avenue for 4 consecutive Sundays, with enormous papier-mâché caricatures poking ironic fun at politicians and show-biz stars. This satirical artistic tradition annually addresses the main themes of current events, while having a good laugh. After the parade, fun in Viareggio continues with weekend celebrations hosted in turn by the city's four neighbourhoods. They close off the streets to traffic and fill up with masks, music and dancing.
This and much more await you in Viareggio!