Well heeled Italians flock to Forte dei Marmi on the Tuscan coast for their summer holidays. The resort is fast becoming the luxury travel destination for European and Russian tourists. Here’s why.
Gorgeous beaches, handsome villas, luxury shopping, safe environment and the stunning Apuan Alps as a backdrop. The most chic resort on the Versilia Riviera exudes laid-back elegance, attracting the crème de la crème of business and industry, for which the town represents a place to enjoy some downtime with their families.
Glamour aside, there is a long-standing love affair between Forte dei Marmi and the aristocrats of art and culture. From Michelangelo to Puccini, Henry Moore to Aldous Huxley, this has been the summer residence of choice for many artists, composers and writers for centuries. In fact Forte dei Marmi is bang on trend whatever century we happen to be in.
It was Michelangelo that first brought attention to the area back in the early 16th century, when Forte dei Marmi was primarily just a small village with a port that was used to ship the white marble of Carrara to destinations far and wide. The materia prima was used to sculpt many of the artist’s renowned works, including David. He was pivotal in creating the Via del Marmo, the route that linked Carrara to the port and became smitten with the town.
Jump forward to the 21st century. Sunshine glitters off the Tyrrhenian Sea and bounces off the white Carrara marble of the town’s sculptures. Happy people wander through the historic centre: past classic-style villas – perhaps owned by Giorgio Armani or Andrea Bocelli (yes, both have residences here); past the exclusive boutiques where luxury shoppers max out on their platinum credit cards; past deliciously expensive restaurants and family-friendly trattorias, through the pretty piazzas and cobbled passageways that lead to the 18th century fort, that gives Forte dei Marmi (marble fort) its name.
Scooters zip in and out of cruising Bentleys, and families pedal through town and along the promenade, as life blissfully passes by without a care in the world!
During the high season months – from May through to September – locals and visitors head to the exquisite golden sand beaches, which stretch for seven kilometres along the coast of Forte dei Marmi. The town’s beach is segregated into Bagnis, family-run beach restaurants, which extend to offer services to attend to your every whim.
Each Bagni has a row of tendas (beach huts), which stand to attention along the back of the beach. The pastel shade huts lend a certain vintage charm to the scene. Sunbeds, parasols and striped canopies are also for hire, and of course there is a beach restaurant serving up local specials, cocktails and refreshments. Heading to a bagni makes for a perfectly sophisticated and very proper day on the beach.
Forte dei Marmi is an excellent beach vacation destination for families. The beaches are patrolled by lifeguards, and the golden sands gently shelve down to the calm sea. Our exquisite villa, Monti di Luna, is situated just 10 minutes walk from the bagni Arturo and a minutes’ walk from Tennis Club Milano.
Late afternoons or early evenings are best spent strolling along the charming promenade and across the pontile (long pier). A handmade gelato for company, as the sun sets and the air is laden with the salty scent of the sea. Protocol in Forte dei Marmi is to enjoy an aperitivo before dinner. A glass of wine or cocktail, accompanied by a stuzzichino – a little appetizer to whet one’s tastes buds before heading off for some spaghetti con le arselle or a grigliata mista di pesce. Buon appetito!
It’s not mandatory to explore Tuscany during your vacation. Forte dei Marmi is a beach vacation resort and there is plenty enough to do in town, with the shopping, the beach clubs, the eating and drinking, and of course hanging out with the cool Italian scene. But if one should decide to take a day out of town, there’ll be spoilt for choice.
In day trip distance is the Renaissance town of Lucca, or Pietrasanta (“città d’arte”), with its delightful ancient art quarter, which plays host to open-air art exhibitions and is home to many fine art galleries; the UNESCO World Heritage site of Pisa, and the fabulous five seaside villages of the Cinque Terre in Liguria. Or head to the interior to explore the beauty of the Apuan Alps. The region is dotted with walking and hiking paths, which will take you far away from the glamour of Forte dei Marmi and into ancient woodlands.
Why not follow in the footsteps of the great Michelangelo if you are heading into the Apuan Alps. Following the marble road (via del marmo) that leads from Carrara to Colonnata, where you can wander at marble cathedrals that shine with their own light, bridges suspended in the void where the imposing marble railway passed and a colossal mountain, which chunk by chunk is disappearing.
Forte dei Marmi is elegant without the fuss, chic without the snob, as only the Italians know how. It’s effortless and wonderful, and somehow manages to deliver whether you’re part of the jet set, or simply a family looking to experience an Italian riviera vacation.