Today’s post is about a gorgeous area of Tuscany that often gets overlooked as travelers head from Lucca or Pisa to the Cinque Terre. Thanks and a big welcome to Serena Giovanonni, the author of today’s enticing article about Versilia!
Tuscany is known to most people as the land of sunflowers, poppies, olive groves and beautiful historical cities such as Florence, Siena and Pisa. But few know the magic of a small territory with a microcosm of landscapes, from the silent sea that laps silky sands to towering mountains, that were the cradle to Romans. The vast expanse of natural parks and pine forests were once a hunting ground for the Tuscan nobility; the rolling hills were redesigned by men in neat vineyards and olive groves; and the magical waters of Lake Massaciuccoli inspired Giacomo Puccini, and still attract the rarest species of birds to spend the warmer months.
Located in northwest Tuscany, bordering Liguria and the Cinque Terre, Versilia is nestled between the high Apuan Alps (giving it a mild winter climate) and a long sandy stretch of coast.
Here the air smells of sea, which is a major part of life in Versilia. In the summer, when long days offer endless sunsets, it is easy to get lost in the distant horizon while sipping a cool drink from a hotel terrace. Winter is perfect for walking, riding, or just thinking along the vast expanse of the beach, lulled by the lapping of the sea and the distant voices of the lively Riviera towns. From Viareggio to Forte dei Marmi, home of shopping and luxury boutiques, posh and glossy windows display the trendy side of this area, often at the forefront of the gossip magazines.
Reality is elsewhere… Viareggio’s promenade stretches out miles, between palms and magic sea views to the long pier, where quays are busy with fishermen from early in the morning. Local catch include sea bream, crickets, red mullet, anchovies and “arselle” (clams) – pearl gray shells, sold per kilo, that topped on spaghetti make the happiness of gourmets.
True Versilia is in Romanesque churches dotting the hills among wild grass meadows and olive trees, stone cottages and charming villages which overlook the entire valley below… the small village of Gualdo, where you can dine in the shade of the bell tower… Saint Lucia, where the view extends from the Gulf of Lerici to Leghorn… Colonnata, on the slopes of the Apuan Alps, has overlooked the fine white marble quarries of Michelangelo for centuries.
True Versilia is in the aromas and flavours of its products and recipes: the typical “tordello” of Camaiore scented of “peporino” (thyme), bacon seasoned in marble basins, savoury wine from local vineyards and “Scarpaccia”, an unusual cake made with zucchini… and much more can be discovered.
Visit Versilia and enjoy peeking into the stalls of fishermen along the pier, tasting the genuine products of traditional inns and workshops, dipping your hands into the soft home-made pasta, sailing on Puccini’ sweet notes, walking along the old farmers’ ways and paths to explore enchanted woods, cliffs, fresh pools, thinking back to the days when Princes and Kings chose this land as their exclusive paradise on the sea…their beloved Versilia.
Serena Giovannoni is a personal concierge and wedding planner in Versilia – Northern Tuscany Riviera, managing the incoming Wishversilia. She has worked as a consultant for ten years both in the public and private sectors, in close touch with prestigious Italian and international environments. Follow Serena on Facebook or on her blog.
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