An Italian Roadtrip1 September 2021

The Barròco Guide for a Weekend in Forte dei Marmi

The jewel town is possibly one of the greatest wonders in the province of Lucca

Forte dei Marmi is one of the top tourist destinations of Versilia, known for its crystal clear sea, its white sandy beaches, but also for its cultural attractions and its trendy clubs. This represents only the beginning of a dream vacation in the maritime town whose coastlines certainly open breathtaking panoramas, composed of pastel colors and unforgettable sunsets, but the unique atmosphere of Forte dei Marmi also has its roots in its tourist history, written by renowned visitors.

The Tuscan destination began to be particularly well known starting in the Roaring 1920s when its shore surrounded by lush pine forests was discovered by artists, intellectuals, aristocrats and businessmen looking for privacy and comfort. Famous figures such as members of the Agnelli family and the Siemens used to spend their summer holidays at the Forte, as well as the philosopher Giovanni Gentile, the physicist Guglielmo Marconi, the writer Riccardo Bacchelli, the sculptor Henry Moore and Mina herself, the queen of Italian music. It is a charm still present today in Forte dei Marmi, to be enjoyed in all its nuances.

To start your weekend in Forte dei Marmi, there is nothing better than a walk in the beating heart of the city, around Piazza Garibaldi: all the streets in the center are like an open-air boutique dominated by the Fort Lorense, known as the fort of Forte dei Marmi: this was wanted by the Grand Duke of Tuscany during 1700, from which the city also takes its name, to defend the landing place to the sea. The remaining part refers to the marbles that were extracted in the nearby quarries and that passed through this area to be embarked on ships. Inside, you can find the Museum of satire and caricature, founded in 1997, which collects material relating to the history of world satire and caricature. A real institution born from the Political Satire Prize of Forte dei Marmi, which has been held in the town every September since 1973, presenting over 4,000 original drawings, a library with over 2500 books, an auditorium, 18th and 19th century satirical texts and a multimedia archive. It is not surprising that Forte dei Marmi hosts this particular museum: many of the most famous names of national and international satire have been awarded here, reflecting the irreverent style and irony of the inhabitants of the area and of Tuscany. And of course, like every destination in this region, the town also boasts a unique food and wine offer.

For lunch, we recommend you stop at the Michelin-starred restaurant Bistrot, by David and Marco Vaiani: a restaurant that relaunches traditional Tuscan cuisine in a more modern and advanced way, through à la carte menus and creative tasting menus: here the concept courses stand out, to be discovered directly upon arrival at the table, as well as the reinvented classic recipes, from roasted octopus with pine nuts and asparagus, up to the suckling pig of the Apuan Alps with fennel and black garlic. The restaurant is divided into two internal rooms elegantly furnished in colonial style, more suitable for autumn and winter, and a large and cool outdoor dehor, ideal for the warm season. An underground cellar of 80 square meters also ensures a wide selection of wines, from the new ones with an excellent value for money to the finest, from Italy and the rest of the world. In the cellar it is also possible to book exclusive private dinners, enjoying the unique setting of the stone vault. 

Another essential stop on the tour in Forte dei Marmi is the Ugo Guidi Museum: the house-museum is the last and only testimony of the fertile cultural season of the 20th century in the town, where the artist Ugo Guidi lived and created all his sculptures. Inside its rooms you can admire over 500 works including sculptures, drawings and tempera paintings, ranging from the 40s to the 70s and which show the development of the Italian master from classical to abstract style. Today the museum represents a place of culture where exhibitions of disappeared artists, promising young talents, students of academies and artistic high schools are set up: each of them is pushed to dialogue with works, videos, performances, installations inspired by the works of Ugo Guidi.

In Forte dei Marmi also the noble villas are splendid, all worthy of a visit: among these we recommend Casa Mann Borghese, Villa Bertelli, Villa Antonietta and Villa Agnelli. In this one, you can enjoy one of the best stays in Versilia: gem of the Augustus Hotel & Resort, set in a spectacular landscape between the coast of fine sand and the dense pine forests enclosed by the Apuan Alps, the former Villa Agnelli it’s the charming residence par excellence. Built by Admiral Morin at the beginning of the twentieth century, the neo-Renaissance Villa Costanza was purchased in 1926 by Edoardo Agnelli: here, the well-known Turin family spent their summer holidays for more than thirty years, and still today its 19 rooms retain the particular style and original furnishings chosen by the Agnelli, in pastel tones ranging from green to pink, passing through the light blue. A Villa characterized by timeless elegance but above all by privacy, thanks also to the exclusive, historic, underpass with direct access to the nearby beach.

For dinner, on your first day, we recommend you to book a table at Ristorante Lorenzo: in its elegant rooms, whose spaces are enriched by a magnificent collection of contemporary art collected over the years, from sculptures to paintings, the first quality Tuscan culinary tradition is celebrated. A real commandment that Lorenzo brings, every morning from 1981, to go to the docks of Viareggio and Versilia in search of the best fish, the most fragrant crustacean, the freshest mollusc, passing through the rigid selection of vegetables, meats and fruit. Chef Gioacchino Pontrelli is then entrusted with the task of transforming the raw material, without betraying its nature but enhancing its characteristics, from the “author’s painting” – all to eat – with caviar to the crudité fantasy, passing through the famous “pasta risottata” with seafood and the delicate amberjack steak.

Sunday in Forte dei Marmi can only begin with a walk through Mercato del Forte: the market was born from a circle of merchants, now 60 and united in a consortium, who almost half a century ago began to exhibit their unique products to the refined clientele of the Versilia coast. An offer that ranges from the famous Florentine craftsmanship of artistic ceramics to the famous embroideries of household linen and the best clothing brands. Furthermore, the precious handcrafted cashmere knitwear and leather goods cannot be missing. After the market, a tour to the Forte dei Marmi pier, one of the historical symbols of the city, is a must: generations of citizens and tourists on holiday in Forte dei Marmi have experienced moments of relaxation on this suggestive pier. Indeed, what reaches our days is not the one dating the 19th century which, unfortunately, was completely destroyed during the Second World War. In fact, the original pier was built on a project by Giovanni Costantini between 1876 and 1877 with a length of about 250 meters from the shore, and was then extended in 1932 reaching 290 meters. In 1943, however, the Germans completely destroyed it by undermining the pine wood supports. At the end of the war, the municipal administration immediately took action to restore this important city symbol, no longer serving as a landing place for ships, but exclusively as a destination for walks. The works for the new pier of the Fort began and ended on May 18, 1958, with the full name of Pontile Medaglie D’oro.

After the morning tour, refresh yourself at the La Magnolia Restaurant, inside the prestigious Hotel Byron: led by the starred Chef Cristoforo Trapani, the restaurant welcomes guests with its elegant poolside atmosphere. The à la carte menu captures the imagination with its simplicity and richness of flavors, from marinated mullet with nettle to sea snails, passing through the tasty combination of burrata mozzarella, red prawns and pork rind. Cristoforo Trapani in fact offers a gastronomic experience to be discovered with his Tuscan-Campania fusion cuisine, in which the great protagonists are the authentic flavors of local products, always fresh and strictly in season.

Beyond the beautiful beaches, in the surroundings of Forte dei Marmi it is possible to visit an incredible naturalistic variety. One of the most spectacular destinations in this sense is the Natural Park of San Rossore, Migliarino and Massaciuccioli, a protected area located in the heart of Tuscany between the provinces of Pisa and Lucca, that also includes Lake Massaciuccioli and the forests of Tombolo, Macchia Lucchese and Migliarino. Here you can relax by choosing one of the proposed routes, admiring the numerous types of trees such as poplar, holm oak, pine and ash as well as the rich fauna, which includes ducks, wild boar, fallow deer, wild rabbit, wolf and the fox.

For an evening stay, we recommend the sophisticated Hotel Principe Forte dei Marmi, which boasts not only a refined and modern interior design, but also a strategic position that makes it an exceptional destination for seaside, artistic and cultural tourism. The rooms are furnished by some of the most prestigious Italian brands, with natural parquet, large and bright windows and bathrooms made entirely of marble. Inside the hotel you will also find an excellent culinary destination for your dinner, the Michelin starred restaurant Lux Lucis: this is the home of Chef Valentino Cassanelli’s kitchen, where the free expression of Italian cuisine triumphs combined with unbridled creativity, also deriving from the rich biodiversity present on the coast of Forte dei Marmi. An inspiration enriched by the close collaboration with the Maître Sommelier Sokol Ndreko, in which the dishes blend with the profiling of the flavor of particular wines. The result is a delicately balanced and elegant menus, which travel from land to sea and offer the best of seasonal ingredients, from spaghettoni with anchovies, water of burrata cheese, umebuoshi and caviar to the roasted, matured wild duck with Bazzone ham sauce, mango and fir. 

To end your stay in great beauty, you cannot fail to have a post-dinner drink in one of the most symbolic places of the lively Forte dei Marmi nightlife: La Capannina di Forte dei Marmi, also known as the Capannina di Franceschi. It is the oldest discoteque with restaurant in the world, and the only one that has never changed its name. La Capannina is a real point of reference for nightlife, able to attract people from all over Italy and from abroad, and its history dates back to 1929. It was Achille Franceschi who recovered an old hut by the sea, with the idea of ​​transforming it into a beach bar where where to serve cocktails and desserts, accompanying everything with the music of an antique gramophone. An idea that was immediately a great success, attracting the nobles of the Sforza, Della Gherardesca and Rucellai families, including intellectuals of the caliber of Eugenio Montale, Giuseppe Ungaretti and Leonida Repaci. The place, as it is today, is not the original one: a terrible fire completely destroyed it in 1939, and was then quickly rebuilt. True catchphrases and stars of the time were born on this stage, from Edoardo Vianello with his “Con le pinne, il fucile e gli occhiali” and Gino Paoli with “Sapore di Sale”, and stars performed inside La Capannina, such as Patty Pravo and Ornella Vanoni, but also internationals like Edith Piaf, Fred Bongusto and Gloria Gaynor.


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