VIAREGGIO: how to get there
BY MOTORWAY: 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 Motorway A11 up to Lucca, then link road to Viareggio; from Rome Motorway A1 up to Florence, then A11 exit Viareggio.
BY TRAIN: station: Viareggio. You can find timetables on the on the web site /http://www.trenitalia.it/
WEEKLY MARKET: Viareggio: Mondays; Torre del Lago: Fridays (in Summer: Sundays)
Gran Caffè Margherita – Promenade Viareggio – Photo A.P.T. Versilia
Today the town exceeds 60,000 inhabitants; it is a shipbuilding, sailing and floricoltura center and it is well known for its Carnival, which shows, on the tree-lined avenues to sea, huge floats parade transporting enormous papier-maché puppets. A single or cumulative (that it is valid for the five course) ticket allows to enter the five parades, of which four on the Sunday afternoons and one by night on Shrove Tuesday.
During the parade a technical panel evaluates the artistic quality of the floats and assigns float awards based on categories and proposed topics. If the parades in costume represent the spectacular part that exalts the wizards of the papier-maché working, the carnival is the popular soul living in the boroughs: in fact every borough organizes in turn entertainments where food, wine, music and dance are protagonists. The climax is the party on the Dock, where open-air large kitchen are organised and dishes based on fish are served. The works and the authors of the floats can be find again in the sheds in the Cittadella. The Cittadella is a complex built in the north of the town, where a museum on Carnival has been realized. The spirit of Viareggio lives in the promenade, called Passeggiata, a rectilinear road, approximately 3km long, that represents the high society saloon of the city. The promenade starts at the Pier and continues on Margherita avenue along the beach, among liberty stile buildings, up to Mazzini Square where a striking view of beach and sea can be appreciated. The promenade continues up to the Principe di Piemonte, nowadays a hotel, a bathing establishment and a conference center. Walking along the Promenade means going shopping (in summer also in the evening) in the boutiques, that presents the more prestigious names of Italian fashion, sitting in a bar for breakfast or for an aperitif, waiting to go to the Cinema on the promenade, or having a coffee in a bar on the tree-lined avenue of the Dock, which might have become in a recent time the new nocturnal meeting for young and older people.
Who wants to buy less expensive items must go to the daily market in Cavour Square (form 9.00 to 20.00), where the stalls sell objects of any kind, or in the pedestrian area between Via Battisti and Via Fratti, where on Thursday morning takes place the weekly market (8.00 to 13.00).
For people fond of antiques the appointment is in D’ Azeglio Square every forth Saturday and Sunday (from 9,00 to 20,00; in July and in August (9.00 to 24.00), while the previous week-end is dedicated to the handicrafts market.
Another weekly market takes place Fridays (in winter) and Sundays (from June to September) in Pace Square in Torre del Lago, where the Puccini Villa is located (Belvedere Square, on Massaciuccoli Lake), that houses the corpse of the famous composer, together whit those of his wife Elvira and his son Tonio.
In summer the open-air theatre in Torre del Lago houses the international lyric review “Puccini Festival”, that recalls lyric lovers all through Italy and from foreign countries. Viareggio does not have an historical center, neither particular artistic attractions, however the Paolina Villa Museums deserve a visit (Via Machiavelli, 2), They are located in the residence of Napoleone’s sister, Paolina Bonaparte.
The “Archaeological Museum Blanc” houses a remarkable archaeological heritage coming from the areas of Viareggio, Camaiore and Massarosa.
The “Pinacoteca Lorenzo Viani” exposes works of the famous artist born in Viareggio , and the “Museum Giovanni Ciuffreda” exposes more than 200 musical instruments.
For people fond of physical activity, the two pine forest, the east and the west one, are the green lungs of the city and allowed to make jogging on organised routes, to have long rides by bicycle and to take refreshment in the many kiosks where drinks and snacks are available.