The Versilia is located in northern Tuscany between the Lake of Massaciuccoli and the Cinquale River. It is well known for its fine sandy beaches covering over 20 Km and served by over 425 bathing establishments, 600 hotels, as well as a few kilometers of open beach, run by the municipal authorities . The climate is mild, due to the bulwark formed by the range of Apuan Alps. On average , the area has 270 days of sunshine per year and mean temperature of 24.5 in summer and 9.4 in winter.
The Riviera is divided up into four adjacent areas: Viareggio and Torre del Lago Puccini, Lido di Camaiore, Marina di Pietrasanta and Forte dei Marmi. Viareggio is a town of about 60,000 inhabitants whose history as a tourist resort dates back to the end of the 19th century, as it is proved by the many examples of Liberty architecture mainly found aling the promenade. The promenade is also an elegant shopping centre which is busy both in winter and summer. The town also offers two pinewoods, a tourist harbour, a conference centre and many other additional facilities.
Between the coast and the Apuan Alps Pietrasanta has been the home for many marble carving studios since Michelangelo began quarrying marble on the nearby Monte Altissimo in the sixteenth century. Loved by the sculptors Henry Moore, Mitoraj, Nogouchi and Botero, today this charming, medieval town whose walls date back to 1255 is a renowned international centre for artists working in marble and bronze.
From this point you can see Cathedral Square and the main citizen monuments: the Cathedral with its red bell-tower, Maroni palace, St. Augustine precious front, Hours tower. Between the coast and the Apuan Alps, Camaiore, like Pietrasanta, is a "founded village". It was wanted in the first half of the XIIIth century by the inhabitants of Lucca (rivals of the inhabitants of Pisa) in addition to many other enterprises to reorganize the zone in order to have control over Versilia.
The birth house of Giosue Carducci
The house where the poet Giosue Carducci was born in 1835 (declared national monument) is located a few kilometres away from Pietrasanta, in the district of Valdicastello. Giosue Carducci, the famous Italian poet who received the Literature Nobel Prize in 1906, was born in Valdicastello ( a district of the town of Pietrasanta) on July 27th 1835. Carducci, who moved to Pietrasanta with his family when he was only 3 years old, remained however attached to his land of birth, which he mentioned several times in his verses.
The birth of the explosion engine
In 1854, Eugenio Barsanti, born in 1821 in Pietrasanta, and Felice Matteucci (physicist) patented and built the first internal combustion engine which ever worked. On top their friendship, the two studious men started a professional collaboration in the technico-scientific field from 1851 onwards. Today, it is fair to remember that Father Eugenio Barsanti, on top of his genial intuitions and his determination to carry them through, had other merits too. He was the first to understand that the explosion engine would have also changed our souls.
The Sketches Museum
In the furrow of a tradition that dates back to Michelangelo and has seen this part of Tuscany cultivate the art of sculpture, the Sketches Museum is a real proof of the consolidated role played by Pietrasanta and Versilia as key international reference for those who operate in this artistic field. The sketches (in reduced scale) and the models (in real dimensions) represent the original idea before its translation into completed work of art. They are made in the most varied materials such as chalk, wood, terracotta, paper, etc. The works which sketches the Museum exposes are found in museums, private collections, parks and squares all over the world. Therefore, visitors find gathered here examples of the main artistic trends of the 1900s and, this way, can have an ample and complete vision of contemporary sculpture.
A seaside resort among the most popular Tyrrhenian ones, Forte dei Marmi is located around a jetty set up during the sixteenth century to ship the apuan marbles. Since 1788 this has been sheltered through an outpost which had been built by Leopoldo I and is still visible in the middle of Garibaldi Square. Just about every european noble but also diplomats, businness-men and managers, artists and V.I.P.s had their bautiful villas, protected by the greenery of the pinewoods, built in this zone. Moreover they chose its sandy beaches to spend their holidays and to relax themselves. During the last century Forte dei Marmi has become a famous tourist resort and its value is recognized all over the world: although a part of the original environment has been turned into enchanting gardens, kitchen gardens and luxuriant meadows sorrounding beautiful villas, the man-nature relationship has been kept intact. Nature even dominates man, whose often careless and abusing presence it reshapes. From Forte dei Marmi a tourist can rediscover many historical and cultural architectural evidences, enchanting villages situated on the numerous valleys or on the hills and enjoy the spell of the Apuan Alps.
It is a city located and delimited by the Serra and Vezza torrents, at the bottom of the Alpi Apuane and at the bottom of a rather steep valley. The territory of the city borders with Stazzema on the North-East and with Pietrasanta on the South-East. It is 7 Km from Forte dei Marmi, 3 km from Pietrasanta and 12 km from Stazzema, with which it is connected by bus lines. The nearest train station is at its hamlet Querceta. It is also close to the motorway A12 , through its Versilia exit.
The provincial road which goes up to the Apuane, all the way through to Castelnuovo Garfagnana, goes through it. Various tracks start from this provincial road and allow to tour the surrounding Alpi. The origin of its name, as could be expected, doesnt come from the union of the two torrents which surround it, on the contrary In fact, the origin of its name comes from the Longobarda people and language and is made of Sala and Vetizza, where Sala means large room or court and Vetizza is the transformation of the first name Vetizzo.
The city of Seravezza is made of the principal town of the same name, the mountain hamlets of Azzano, Fabiano, Giustagnana, Minazzana, Basati, Cerreta S. Antonio and Cerreta S. Nicola; the hamlets located in the alluvial plain of the Versilia : Ripa, Pozzi and Querceta; and the hamlets of the bottom of the valley: Riomagno, Ruosina and Corvaia.
The city of Seravezza is historically divided in 7 districts which annually fight for the Palio. The districts are: Cervia, Leon d'Oro, Lucertola, Madonnina, Pozzo, Quercia and Ranocchio.
The Palio dei Micci (donkey race) was first held in 1956 through the initiative of a citizens committee and soon became the most important historical-folklore event in the Province of Lucca. Eight city-districts participate. In the beginning it was held in March during the St. Joseph festivities; nowadays it takes place on the first Sunday in May. By nature it plays an authoritative part in the historical traditions of Tuscany. More than two thousand costumed figures take to the city streets on Palioday dressed in splendid costumes as princes and queens, warriors and chancellors knights, scholars, jesters and peasants, to animate the most beautiful spring festivity, a fairy-tale day.
Such massive participation, greater than in any other event in Italy, not only confirms the Versilieses' spirituality, their insatiable need to vent their imaginations, but also offers the spectators striking impressive theatrical aspects.
The elegance of the costumes, the picturesque ancient ceremony, the allure of colours, banners, youthfulness and music constitute an absolutely unique, inimitable tableau.
The rivalry among the districts comes to its culmination in the Palio: the donkey race. The district factions, who have Tuscan blood in their veins and therefore love competition, participate in this moment with intensity and emotion that infects even the most disenchanted spectators.
Elegant and refined Viareggio is one of the more famous coast resorts in Versilia and a tourist destination known all over the world. It is an amusement-centre, the country of the Carnival and of the night-refinement with its advanced anf first-rate night-clubs and premises. The night lights make room for a lively and coloured landscape in summer and for wonderful sunsets and tranquillity in winter.
Anyway Viareggio is always the right place to visit as it displays, during every season, different kinds of tourist attractions. The historical traditions are scanty: its name derives rom the tower in Via Regia, which was built during the XVth century by the inhabitants of Lucca. In that period, once the Burlamacca's outlet had been make in working order, the arbour become lively and trading was set going. Anyway the real industrial growth starts only some centuries later and was based mostly on shipyards. The sea, the big ally of the inhabitants of Viareggio, constituted the starting-point to build the fishermen's boats. The development and growing of the town have caused that, nowadays, yachts and posh boats are designed and built in the same shipyards. Anyhow tourism is still Viareggio' strenght: you only have to note that in the beginning of the 20th century the bathing huts reached already 3000 units, to see the neverending development of this tourist resort . The landscape is unique thanks either to the greenery of the hills, the pinewoods, the blue sea and the carnival which enlivens this town every year through a long parade. Custom, actuality and policy are the targets of the organizers' imagination.
Viareggio boasts the most incredible Carnival floats parade in Italy. Its origins dates back to the 19th Century: the first edition took place in 1873. The coloure triumphal floats are real "Mirabilia" : enormous machineries were monsters, politicians, animals and fantastic creatures moves their tentacles, heads, arms...etc. The construction of the floats are a serious thing here: there are different groups of carpenters, blacksmiths, sculptors, painters, and other artists who work separately for building the best float of the Carnival...Everything takes place in a blaze of joyful colours, musics, dances, etc.
History of the Carnival of Viareggio
In February of 1873, to the tables of the coffee of the Casino, among the young good of the Viareggio since that time the idea day a parade of carriages budded for celebrating the carnival, to the open one, in plaza, among the people. Fat Tuesday of February 1873, the Carnival of Viareggio is matured as today it is known: spectacular event among the most beautiful and grandiose of the world. To end of last century, appeared, in the middle of the party of people that was suffered great, the triumphal wagons, real monuments, built in wood, scagliola and juta, modeled by sculptors and envoys together by carpenters and blacksmiths that, in the Dock, on the ports of the shipyards, they knew how to create boats destined to challenge with success the insidious waters and the capricious winds of the oceans; since then the wagons so built of year in year, it have sailed in a sea of amazed people and had a good time.
The first world war seemed to destroy, together with the beautiful époque in Europe, also the Carnival to Viareggio, that instead revived, more splendid and more grandiose, in 1921, when even the disguised wagons unthread around two marvelous avenues, parallel among them and to the beach; the sea avenues, the mythical walk, that in the summer they were the meeting of the national and international worldliness, from that moment they were, with the scenes of the Alps Apuane, the natural and grandiose stage, of incomparable beauty, where they were strutted, every year richer than animation and vivacity, the carnival constructions.
In 1921 the first official song was sung, the "Cup of Champagne", actual hymn of the carnival. Also the masks were animated with music for the first time, because the gang found place to edge of an entitled wagon "Tonin of Burio" that represented the party nuziale in the threshing floor of a farmer's house. Two years after the " Pierrot ", nostalgic and romantic figure of the carnival, was the first mask to move the head and the eyes.
In 1925, for initiative of some builders, the papier-maché was introduced, to realize the wagons, since then has allowed colossal but light constructions, that is mascheroni able to hover in the air challenging the law of the gravitates. With such innovation we can said that the history of the Carnival of Viareggio becomes legend, thanks to the builders that, for their creative abilities, it was denominated, from the national and international press, magicians of the papier-maché.
In the 1930 Uberto Bonetti, the painter that has illustrated the magic of the carnival with official manifestos, Burlamacco it conceived, the famous mask today, that in the 1931 manifesto, on I break down of the docks stretched out on the sea, it appears together with Ondina. Today Burlamacco finds place anger the Italian masks to Rome I press the museum of the Folklore and the tradition and he is exposed in Paris I press the Musée de The Homme.
After the second world war, it revives in 1946 and, since then, King Carnevale has tempered his scepter, passing uninjured - June of 1960 -through a dreadful fire of the hangarses where the wagons were built. Since the beginning (1954) the national Tv before, and the Eurovision (1958) then have consecrated the great demonstration transporting, anywhere, by ether Viareggio and the Carnival. For a long time, every year, a long team of illustrious guests, of political, of characters of the sport and the show, has come to Viareggio to admire it own effigy in papier-maché, as to every course disguised day every edition of the carnival hundreds of thousands of people have decreed the success of this great demonstration.
In 1998 the Carnival of Viareggio has celebrated 125 years of life in the shine of one whole month of diurnal and nighttime parties and now, strong of its continuous successes, it looks by now with all of its strengths at the great editions of the future, that will be spectacular with wagons, you unthread, local parties, party in mask, reviews of every kind and, first among these, the world tournament of kick "Cup Carnival". In 2001 him it is inaugurated the new City of the carnival, a complex destined to become a great attraction, characterized from new hangars, from an arena for the shows, from the multi-media museum , from the school of the papier-maché and from other cultural initiatives and of diversion. Carnival, party of the peace, of the love, of the solidarity. Every year, they come to Viareggio thousand of people.
"...Sunny beaches, cool pine-woods, the ever calm lake - in a word, Eden..." exclaimed Giacomo Puccini on first catching sight of this Tuscun beauty spot during a huntig-trip.
With its vast theatre on the shores of lake Massaciuccoli, which hosts yhe Puccini Festival, still maintains intact the atmosphere and charm that inspired the composer.
The lake and sorrounding marshland unveil a hidden world of incomparable beauty, immersed in the coastal pine forest which stretches from the lake to the sea and from Pisa to Viareggio. Beside the theatre entrance, the composer's Villa Mausoleum looks out over the little square that faces onto the lake. There a small room has been tranformed into a chapel which houses the tombs of Puccini, his wife Elvira and their son Antonio.
Here too one can see numerour artifacts belonging to the composer such as the piano he used to compose during the night. The Festival of Torre del Lago was inaugurated in 1930 and in over seventy years of existance, it has presented the world's most famous opera singers.