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by David Walker — last modified 2008-06-20 13:38

On the Tuscan coast, also known as the Versilian Riviera, Viareggio is well connected with direct train services to and from Pisa (Centrale), Firenze, Livorno and La Spezia.

VIAREGGIOSeveral of the long distance Inter City and EuroStar services call at Viareggio. Details of timetables and on line booking can be found at Trenitalia.

Close by is Auto Strada (A12) and Super Strada (SS N1). A useful route planning service is provided by Mappy.

The railway station is located on the eastern side of the town. This is some distance from the sea front and the main shopping area. On the station concourse there is a very helpful local tourist information office where English is spoken. The official Versilia Tourist Information site is full of information, but but it is still in Italian only.

Services at the station include free WC’s (Arab style toilets), buffet and giornali. For those who need to "call home" an internet point can be found in Via Verdi, which is opposite the station. Outside the station taxis are available and also, at various places in the Piazzale Dante Alighieri are stops for CLAP (Orange) and Lazzi (Blue) bus/coach services.

CLAP buses operate throughout the urban area of Viareggio. The Lazzi coaches travel to many locations within and outside Viareggio. The main bus terminus is in the Piazza D’Azeglio near to the sea front. (WC available on payment of a small charge). Bus tickets costing from 77cents for a journey of up to 1 hour have to be purchased before travel. These are usually available from tobacconists or newsagents. At the CLAP office at the Piazza D’Azeglio a one-week pass can be obtained for 10 Euros.

As to the town itself, Viareggio is a sprawling area comprising several districts including the commercial port, central shopping area and tourist attractions and accommodation mainly along the seafront and adjoining streets. To the south is the area of Torre del Lago (separated from Viareggio by an area called "La Lecciona", which is a natural reserve area inside the Parco Regionale di Migliarino, San Rossore e Massaciuccoli).

To the north is the resort of Lido di Camaiore.

In June 2002 work to install new service pipes was disrupting the main shopping area. There is a large outdoor (partly covered) mercato that operates on several days each week. This includes a fresh fish market. In the surrounding area is a cluster of small streets with a variety of individual shops. There are no large department type stores although one has just opened on the sea front on the Viale Carducci. Similarly there are no large supermarkets. Going out of town towards Torre del Lago there is a Coop.

The working port area is commercial and provides the harbour for many large luxury yachts as well as numerous other small craft. On the harbour wall there are a few small stalls that daily sell freshly caught seafood.

To the north of the port is the main tourist beach and promenade. The whole length of of the beach up to Lido di Camaiore (and beyond) is occupied by private establishments providing umbrellas, deckchairs and sun beds available for hire. These are called "bagni" and are kept immaculately clean and have floral and water displays and other features to attract clients. Some of the more exclusive "bagni" are for members only. Average price for renting an umbrella. loungers and deckchairs is about 13 Euros per day.

At the southern end of the promenade are some of the most interesting buildings. Dating from the early part of the century they have an art deco appearance and are generally well maintained. Mostly they contain restaurants, cafes, gelateria and bars, which also have substantial outdoor seating areas on the marble crazy paved promenade. There is a wide range of up market designer type shops and a chic cinema complex. This certainly gives this part of town a feeling of great affluence and it can become very busy. Further north along the promenade it becomes much quieter.

On the inland (east) side of the promenade are many grand hotels which are separated every so often by grand Piazzas such as Piazza Mazzini which is a pleasant green space with palm trees, an impressive water feature and plenty of benches to sit on!

South of the port is the Viale Tigli. Although this is one of the main routes to and from Torre del Lago it should be noted that no bus service operates along this road. However to the west of the Viale Tigli is a pine forest and beyond that a range of low sand dunes and then the spiaggia levante. A free beach with clean white sand. Uncommercial and what seems to be a world away from the beach on the north side of the port. Apart from the sound of the birds, the sea and the wind the only interference with complete solitude is the occasional hawker.

The walk from the Piazza D’Azeglio to this beach is a good 45 minutes to 1 hour. Alternatively take the number 9 bus as far as its terminus on the Viale Europa and then a short walk south. This service is infrequent (sometimes less than 1 bus an hour in each direction) so make sure to check the timetable! The bus also passes the only public swimming baths, which is located just off the Via Salvatori. Probably the best and most flexible form of transport is to hire a bicycle. The whole area is very flat which makes cycling so easy!


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