Viareggio is the second biggest city in the province of Lucca in Tuscany. It is one of Italy’s best known beach destinations and is also famous for its carnival. Apart from tourism, the most important industry in this coastal town is ship-building and reparation. Viareggio has more than 60,000 inhabitants.
All about Viareggio
The tourist office (Centro Informazioni Turistiche) is located in the Via Carducci, 10 (tel. +39 0584962233).
By car/public transport
By public transport: The two nearest airports are Pisa‘s Galileo Galilei and Florence‘s Amerigo Vespucci. Viareggio is locates on three train lines, starting with the coastal Rome–Ventimiglia line. The other two are the Milan–Livorno and the Florence–Viareggio lines.
By car: From Rome you follow the SS1 (Via Aurelia) to the north. You can also take the highway A1 to Florence and then the A11 to Viareggio. From Genova you take the A12 and from Milan first the A1 to Parma, the the A15 to Santo Stefano Magra and finally the A12.
Historical Sail Boat Gathering
From October 17th till October 20th the annual Historical Gathering of Sailing Boats will take place in Viareggio. You can admire some of the most beautiful historical vessels dating from the beginning of the 20th century to the 1970’s. (More information about the Raduno Vele Storiche di Viareggio.)
The foundation of Viareggio dates back to the twelfth century, when the inhabitants of nearby Lucca built the port of Motrone and a defense tower near the Via Regia. The name probably derives from Castrum Viaregii, or “Castle on the Via Regia”.
Long disputed between Pisa and Lucca, in 1175 at the behest of Barbarossa it became an imperial city. It belonged for a long time to the Republic of Lucca.
In 1534 the old castle was replaced by a fortress, which in 1617 became the seat of the coastal vicariate.
However, it was not until the 18th century that the city became really influential. Subsequently, in 1823 the small village was made into a city by Maria Luisa Borbone.
In 1861, when Giuseppe Barellai founded two marine hospices, which set the beginnings of the present seaside resort in motion.
In 1917 Viareggio‘s original boardwalk almost completely went up in flames. The art nouveau cafés, hotels and villas you can see now along the city’s coastline were all built in the 1920’s.
Tourist Attractions Viareggio
Viareggio has some interesting monuments, such as the Torre Matilde, a tower which is seens as symbol of the city. The Balena Beach Establishment and the Teatro Margherita are examples of art nouveau architecture.
The most interesting example of Viareggio‘s art nouveau architecture is the Gran Caffé Margherita.
In the Municipality of Torre del Lago Puccini you can visit the Puccini House Museum and the tomb of the famous composer. In the nature reserve of Lago Massaciuccoli you can observe some rare bird species.
The biggest event of the year in Viareggio is its carnival celebration. One of the most important attractions of the city is its Cittadella del Carnevale, consisting of sixteen hangars where floats from the past are kept and where the papier – mâché sculptors make their creations for the following year. There is also a small modern art museum called Carnevalletto.