If you want to tick off Italy’s big-name cities, but don’t want to forfeit your annual beach break, take a holiday to Tuscany where you can do both.
City, country and coast
As far as holiday destinations go, Tuscany has one of the most impressive resumes in Europe. Its skill set includes city breaks, country escapes and beach getaways. And it’s qualified in the subjects of history, cookery, art and architecture, to name just a few.
Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio
The big names in Tuscany’s beach scene are Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio. Forte dei Marmi has a celebrity following. Tennis players, fashion designers and European royalty own private villas in the area. They’re baited here by a long leash of sand, stylish beach clubs, and designer boutiques. Viareggio takes a much more traditional approach to seaside holidays. Both the private beach resorts and public beaches here are a favourite with Italian families, thanks to their soft sands and shallow waters. In the town's restaurants, meanwhile, well-heeled locals meet up for espresso, pizzas and freshly-caught seafood.
Tuscany’s holy trinity
The beach resort of Tirrenia, meanwhile, put Tuscany’s 3 big cities at your disposal. Pisa, with its iconic leaning tower, is only a 25-minute drive away. An hour-and-a-half’s journey is all it takes to get to the centre of Florence, where you can admire the rose and mint-coloured façade of its cathedral. The 2-hour road-trip to Siena, meanwhile, rewards you with the biggest piazza in Italy, which opens up like a crater in the centre of the city.
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The sleepy Medieval town of Montaione sits quietly in the centre of Tuscany. It may be slightly off the beaten track, but some of Italy's major players – Florence, Siena and Pisa – are all within an hour's drive. And it's not just the location that’s attractive. Montaione's hillside position offers sweeping views of the lush vineyards and olive groves that characterise the surrounding Chianti countryside.
Viareggio, on the northern Tuscan Riviera, is an historic fishing town turned holiday hub. The place has inspired artists for centuries – the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley lived here and Puccini wrote his most famous operas nearby. Add to that a sandy beach, chic piano bars and some great restaurants and you have a holiday with a sophisticated twist.
Lido Di Camaiore
Lido di Camaiore, on the Tuscan Riviera, has long been a fashionable spot. Artists, composers, poets and playwrights have all come to this laid-back seaside place, and it’s still popular for its beautiful squares and gardens – not to mention the sandy beach. As for nightlife, the waterfront prom is lined with plenty of bars and restaurants. And when it comes to getting around, you’ve got Pisa, Lucca and Florence all within easy reach.