Florence has turned into the oven she is known for at this time of year with the temperatures this week reaching the low 40’s C. I have been indoors all day with two young boys but thankfully for the air-con, we’ve had a rather relaxing day. I would, of course, prefer to be taking a dip in the turquoise water featured in the photos below and so thought I’d share an article from my latest issue of This Tuscan Life. If you would like to read more about the Summer months in Tuscany, you can download the magazine in the link below :
ANDIAMO AL MARE!
Tuscany’s Beach Culture & the Annual Migration
The beach is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Tuscany but you may be surprised to know that there is a long history of beach culture in this very region that is more commonly known for its cypress trees and Chianti vino!
If you travel to Tuscany during the Summer months, especially in August you will probably find a lot less traffic on the city roads and quite a few shops closed with the all too familiar ‘Chiuso per Ferie’ sign on the front window.
Most of the locals are on their annual leave and have headed to the beach. For Italians, their Summer beach holiday is a sacred ritual that takes place each year. Some families have been going to the same beach club for generations and never consider another spot, others choose their location depending on whether they are a young couple or family. Each coast and bagno or beach club has their pros and cons. Whether you prefer a wild and public beach or you prefer the luxury and comfort of a private beach club, options won’t be lacking when you are deciding where to spend your Tuscan beach holiday.
The private beach club, known quite simply as il Bagno (yes, it’s the same word for bath and bathroom) can seem quite foreign if you come from other countries where the idea of paying to go the beach seems quite absurd. I am a self-confessed convert and like nothing more than spending the day at a lovely beach club with all the comforts and facilities, especially as a mother. It really makes a day at the beach that much more enjoyable for all!
You can either pay for a day visit, week, month or for the whole season which is usually from June to early September. Prices will range depending on where you are and if the bagno also has a private swimming pool.
Most beach clubs will offer you a private cabina and shower where you can wash away the days salt, sweat and sand, get changed and go directly out to your aperitivo and watch the sunset, conveniently provided in the bagno’s bar.
Regular visitors travelling from Milan and Florence favour the lidos of Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio. They don’t really offer the best beaches in terms of crystal clear turquoise water but you can find nice fine, sandy stretches.
Forte dei Marmi is the most exclusive destination in Versilia. Here you can find all your designer brands, gorgeous restaurants and incredible properties. Viareggio still oozes the charm of her earlier years and the evening passeggiata is a must for people-watching while enjoying a gelato or maybe just sitting and sipping an aperitivo. Neighbouring Pietrasanta (the historic centre not the Marina) which sits in the middle of the two is a charming small town favoured by artists and families due to its child-friendly piazza which is perfect for riding bikes and scooters while mum and dad sit at the nearby bar enjoying a Spritz! My sister lived here for fifteen years and iIt is a truly beautiful place to stay.
Other Italians prefer to head to southern Tuscany and anchor yachts at Porto Ercole, on the Argentario promontory. But the heart of the Tuscan coast, called the Maremma, has beaches from Follonica to the ancient fishing town of Castiglione della Pescaia that are a magnet for locals from Montalcino and Siena. Head further south to the gorgeous Gulf of Baratti with its long sandy beach sheltered by the bay.
And don’t forget that Tuscany also has a few islands included within its borders! Take your pick from the Isola d’Elba or further south to the Isola del Giglio. A quick ferry trip from the mainland, both islands have incredible beaches and wonderful local seafood dishes that are definitely worth exploring.
All of the following photos were taken at the Bagno Le Forbici, a really lovely place to enjoy the best of both worlds; private beach club with a small infinity pool where you can also access the sea below by taking the stairs down to the rocks. Make sure you have appropriate footwear if you choose to venture down to the rocks as they are quite sharp!