CAMAIORE, How to get there
From Genova, Motorway A12 to the South, exit Viareggio;
from Milan Motorway A1 and A15 up to La Spezia, then A12 to the South exit Viareggio;
from Florence A11 Motorway up to Lucca, then link road to Viareggio;
from Rome Motorway A1 up to Florence, then A11 exit Viareggio. From the toll-house at Viareggio go on to Camaiore.
BY TRAIN: station: Viareggio. Timetables on the web site www.trenitalia.it
BY AIRPLANE: Airport “Galileo Galilei” in Pisa
BY BUS: CLAP or LAZZI Service from Viareggio, Pietrasanta or Lucca
Weekly Market: Camaiore: Fridays, Lido di Camaiore: Mondays.
Even if inhabited in prehistory, archaeological ruins and Latin toponym demonstrate a heavy roman print. The toponym Camaiore derives in fact from “Maior Campus” (great plain), on the road that connected Lucca to the port of Luni.
In the Middle Ages, Lucca triggered the war against the local large landowners, destroying their castles and founding from scratch Pietrasanta and Camaiore in order to secure their sea access and their control of the Via Aurelia. Both are examples of “new setting up city”: the urban spaces are shared into an orthogonal net, that counted four aligned quarters, crossed from three parallel roads. The end of the 16-th century was for Camaiore the beginning of the urban and economic development process, with the construction of the new city walls.
In 1799 Napoleonic troops plundered the city, depredating and ruining artworks. Its successive history is linked to Lucca’s history with the change from the Ducato of Lucca to the Granducato of Tuscany and then to the Reign of Italy.
Camaiore is today a commune of more than 30.000 inhabitants; his territory extends from the Alps Apuane up to the Tyrrhenian Sea, crossing the hill area of Seimiglia and the plane of Capezzano, a floricolture zone. The historical center maintains monuments in S. Bernardino’s Square, as the Collegiata or Santa Maria Assunta’s Church, in Romanesque style (1260),whose inside, shaped into a Latin cross, contains a christening font and an organ of the 16-th century; the Civic Tower, 30 meters high, the Vicar’s Palace (bank center); the Arc of the Vergine Maria with fresco.
In Diaz’s Square you find the Museum of Sacred Art, which shows ornaments, sacred paintings, vestments from the 14-th to the 16-th century, and the ancient Church of San Michele, destroyed in 1944 and reconstructed in the original shape.
The roads of the center are the theatre in which the Triennial Procession or Luminaria di Gesù Morto, the medieval tournament “Palio dell’Assunta” (August) and the night of the sawdust carpets (the most important event and the one that the Camaioresi love the most) take place. The evening before the Sunday of the Corpus Domini, true groups of “tappetari” draw real pictures related to religious or social topics on the street asphalt, using carved plywood shapes and sawdust in various colours.
On Sunday morning you can admire the carpets for a few hours, before they are destroyed from the procession of the believers.
Among the other events it is important to highlight “Camaiore in Jazz” (June-July), “Camaiore in ancient times” (August), the Fair of Ognissanti (1 November).
Furthermore, in the center, the Tori Massoni Palace houses the Archaeological Museum, where you can see archaeological rests from the Prehistory to the Renaissance, and the Theatre dell’Olivo (of the Olive tree), former “tiratoio” of the wool, later opened again as a communal theatre for concerts and exhibitions.
However, the most significant religious buildings are outside the center, like the Badia of Saint Peter: founded in the 7-th century from Benedictines Monks. It became an important monumental complex constituted of church, bell tower, arc, cemetery and nunnery, everything encircled by walls. The Badia has a simple but imposing, typical architecture of Romanesque style and Benedictine conception. The inside, shaped into three aisles, possesses a rare organ “bachiano” form the 1600’s. It is used for the International Organistic Festival “City of Camaiore” that is carried out in the Badia in July and August.
You can find S.Lazzaro’s Church, called “ai Frati”, by the name of the hospital on the Francigena, and former parish of the Franciscans, on the road leading to the sea. The beautiful cloisters, with porch and bell tower, is today a place for exhibitions, like the international exhibition of the Mangers at Christmas Time.
In Capezzano Pianore, in the Villa Le Pianore (former dwelling of the Borbone, nowadays private university), a complex of three buildings dipped in an exotic plants park, the vegetable and flower review “Demetra” (May) takes place.
Lido di Camaiore
With more than a 4km beach, Lido di Camaiore is a well known site of bathing holiday; at the beginning the 1900’s Gabriele D’ Annunzio, Eleonora Duse, Vittorio Emanuele III, Guglielmo Marconi, Galileo Chini used to spend their holiday here.
The true flush took place after the War, when Lido became an international tourist goal, thanks to a large receptive capacity, well equipped bathing establishments and quiet environment. During the summer on the promenade takes place the kermesse of appointments “Lido festival”.
Surroundings are a paradise for hikers thanks to its natural and artistic beautiful sites. From the tops of the Apuane you can easily move to the hill villages and to the small villages of Seimiglia.
It is important to see Lombrici, in the former valley of the flour mills, well known in ancient times thanks to its factories and oil mills; Monteggiori, specially loved from artists and personages of the show; Casoli (Grotta all’Onda, of archaeological interest); Gombitelli (former Lombardic linguistic island, today famous for cold cuts and wrought iron); Pieve di Camaiore, whose Romanesque Pieve of S. Stefano (9-th century) is one of the five historical Pievi in Versilia, the only one to have both a christening font and a cemetery.