The 10 things you cannot miss in Viareggio
For those who believe that Viareggio is only about the Carnival, the sea, and Puccini’s music, here is a very special top 10 list of places to visit, fascinating at any time of the year, to treat yourself perhaps to a relaxing weekend in Tuscany:
1. The sea promenade and boulevards: if there is a symbolic place in the city, this is the path of about 3 kilometres that starts from the Pier and reaches our hotel Principe di Piemonte in Viareggio, passing through Viale Margherita, Piazza Mazzini, and Viale Marconi. Considered the good living room of the city, it captivates with Art Noveau buildings, cafes, prestigious boutiques, and of course the blue of the sea a few meters away. Legendary.
2. The Carnival Citadel: the largest and most important Italian thematic centre dedicated to masks, with workshops and hangars used to build and preserve the floats, two museums, and a historical documentary centre. Oneiric.
3. The beaches and the port: equipped and full of services, the bathing establishments of the Viareggio beaches are the means for relaxing and fun days for all age groups, while the tourist port, with 2,000 berths, ensures an important gateway to the city. Functional.
4. Villa Argentina: built in 1868 and enlarged in 1926, it is probably the stately home that best represents the concept of Art Noveau in Viareggio. It can be visited free of charge from Tuesday to Saturday, and it hosts temporary events and exhibitions. Charming.
5. Villa Paolina Bonaparte Museum: if you love culture this is the place for you. An elegant 19th-century villa in Via Machiavelli that houses the Civic Archaeological Museum ‘Alberto Carlo Blanc’, the Museum of Musical Instruments ‘Giovanni Ciuffreda’, and the Art Gallery ‘Lorenzo Viani’. Precious.
6. GAMC – Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art Lorenzo Viani: an authentic dip into the best of 20th-century art, with exhibitions dedicated to Viani himself but also a vast collection that includes artworks by Giorgio De Chirico and Carlo Callà. Amazing.
7. The pine forests: the pine forests of Ponente and Levante are the perfect place to take refuge in search of relaxation, to escape the summer heat, to get away from the noises and sounds of the city. Full of kiosks, restaurants, areas for animals, and zones perfect for children. Relaxing.
8. Villa Borbone: built during the first half of the 19th century in Viale dei Tigli, inside the Migliarino – S. Rossore – Massaciuccoli Natural Park, it is a historical and cultural context of great charm, with internal spaces and external park perfect for educational-environmental initiatives, events, ceremonies, conferences, meetings, concerts, and shows. Historical.
9. Maritime Museum Alberto Gianni: a must for those who really want to learn about the history of the city and the work of the sailors. It is in Via Pescheria and houses precious relics from the Viareggio navy organized by thematic areas: on-board equipment, shipyards, seafarers, master shipwrights and caulkers, Italian navy, seafaring and art, model-making, diving and underwater work, fishing, nautical instruments and sailing. Revealing.
10. Matilde Tower: built in the first half of the 16th century in Via della Foce, the tower is currently the oldest building in the city. The name comes from an incorrect attribution to the Duchess Matilde of Canossa. Today it hosts cultural events and in particular temporary exhibitions of figurative arts.
This is our very personal top 10 of the most interesting places in Viareggio, to which we would like to add also Torre del Lago, the only hamlet of the city and location loved by Puccini, who wrote many of his works right here, and the pastry shop Galliano in Viale Marconi, where you can taste the best rice pudding in Tuscany.
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The Carnival of Viareggio was born in 1873 when there was the first parade of festively decorated carriages in the historic Via Regia, the heart of the old town.