Hotel Plaza E De Russie, Viareggio ****
The Hotel Plaza E De Russie is a sumptuous Liberty-style four-star hotel in Viareggio, overlooking the famous palm-fringed promenade of this Tuscan seaside town. Set in an elegant historic building, the decor and ambience evoke an atmosphere of historic grandeur: much of Viareggio was laid out at the turn of... View hotel
Double rooms from €77
Hotel Butterfly, Torre Del Lago ***
This beautiful three-star hotel in Tuscany's Torre del Lago overlooks the lovely Lake Massaciuccoli and enjoys a tranquil, quiet setting ideal for a relaxing holiday far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The legendary Italian composer Puccini wrote some of his most famous operas in this district. View hotel
Double rooms from €70
Hotel Playa, Viareggio ***
The Hotel Playa is a small family-run B&B-style hotel in Viareggio, Tuscany, offering well-priced two-star accommodation in this pleasant Mediterranean beach resort. Guests staying here will be well-placed for exploring the art cities of Tuscany (Toscana) by car: Florence, Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano are all within easy reach. View hotel
Double rooms from €54
Probably most famous for its yearly carnival, Viareggio is Tuscany on Sea, with enormous expanses of sandy beach, plenty of 'gelaterie', cafes, restaurants, bars and shops to service them, a buzzing night life, and some fine Liberty-style architecture along the seafront. The town gets its name from the Roman highway the Via Regia, or 'king's road' but it really rose to prominence in the mid-1500s when it became the coastal base for the landlocked city of Lucca, then a major imperial power. Percy Bysshe Shelley was cremated on the beach here in the presence of his dissolute poet pals Lord Byron and Leigh Hunt, though today that stretch of sand is likely to lie beneath one of the many thousands of sun loungers that the Italians arrange, with military precision over their well-kept and cleaned beaches. You'll also find plenty of sports activities, including beach volleyball, boules and the like.
If you can tear yourself away from soaking up the sun, major sights include the Torre Matilde, which the Lucchese built in 1541 to protect against seaborne attacks from North African invaders. There are some impressive yachts to be seen, with Viareggio now a base for the manufacturing of luxury ocean craft. You'll find some terrific restaurants, specialising in seafood - the town still has a working fishing harbour. There's good shopping - check out the stores around the Piazzone (a large square) which also has the central market. And there's the carnival of course, which since its inception in 1873 has grown to be one of Italy's biggest. The papier mache floats are marvels of construction and inventiveness.