Lunch in Viareggio

This summer saw my second trip to the coastal town of Viareggio in Italy. It’s a strange place, but in summer, it’s a wonderful place to spend the day in one of the many beach clubs.

Next door to the richer, more popular Forte dei Marmi, Viareggio seems a little stuck in the past. Stuck in its hey-dey of the first half of the 20th century, but in a good way. The wide, almost American roads and promenades, go for miles, along the sea front. A walk-way runs the length of the town and takes you strolling past the different beach clubs, some with pools and bars, but all with loungers and cabanas on the beach.

You can’t access the beach through these beach clubs, without eating, drinking or hiring a sun lounger or cabana. If you leisurely stroll through to get a glimpse of the sea, you’ll soon be stopped and politely asked to pay. If you’re willing to persevere, you can walk the length of Viareggio and you’ll end up at the public beach. But who wants to hang with the riff-raff (I’m kidding of course!), when you can hang with Italy’s elite?

Strolling past the beach clubs, it can become a bit overwhelming trying to chose which one to try. If you have a full day, I’d certainly say pack your swim gear, get there early, hire a changing room and head to one of the beach clubs that not only has access to the beach and sea, but also its own private swimming pool and bar (it’s not cheap mind…a lounger for. These pools look incredibly inviting and never super busy. Plus it saves you the journey of walking to the sea and getting all sandy!

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We however, were just looking for somewhere to have lunch in Viareggio. So we strolled along with our Silver Cross Zest Stroller peaking through the entrance-ways to see where looked most appealing to satisfy our need for some simple, tasty Italian food. It was too hard to make a decision, but when we walked past Bagno Elisabetta and a lovely old Italian lady beckoned us in with smiles, we weren’t quite sure what we were letting ourselves in for, but as we walked in, the restaurant unfolded before us and presented a gorgeous covered restaurant-bar which was sheltered from the overpowering heat.

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We sipped cold limonata and ordered crispy calamari and fresh penne pomodoro to sate our appetites. And it did just that. We passed a few hours watching people turn up and claim their stakes on a sun-lounger. We we thought it was too hot for all of that, so strolled back to the car, headed home and jumped straight in the pool to cool-off.

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Although not as pretty and developed as Forte dei Marmi, Viareggio is a spot along the coast that is well worth a visit, especially if you intend to laze the days away on the beach. They do have activities for kids during the summer, but I found with an 11-month old, that a leisurely early lunch was just enough for us.

Have you visited Tuscany’s coast? Not everyone thinks of sandy beaches when they think of Tuscany.