Summer (and Carnival) Fun
For sand, sun, and fun on the Tuscan Riviera, head to this idyllic town bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea on one side and the peaks of Masa Carrara (home to the famous while marble of the same name) on the other. Originally built as the port for nearby Lucca, the town now draws summer crowds with six miles of sandy shores; there are both private and public beaches, with most of the latter set in the protected Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli regional park. Mingle with bronzed beachgoers, locals, and jet-setters along the nearly-two-mile-long La Passeggiata, a pedestrian street running parallel to the water and lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes; the composer Puccini regularly found inspiration along this stretch. But summer is not the only high season here: The annual Carnevale, taking place over the four weeks leading up to Lent, is considered one of the top carnival experiences in the world, and draws thousands of revelers with its elaborate floats, over-the-top costumes, and lively street parties.
By Sandra Ramani, AFAR Contributor
Party with the Locals in Viareggio!
The Viareggio Carnevale Parade may not have the cachet of Venice's famous celebration, but this crowning event of the six-day festival has an intoxicating, joyful flair. The 2013 Carnevale begins on January 27th and ends on February 17th. You must book a room early if you want to be a part of the action. The town is about one hour by train from Florence and it's well-worth the journey. We arrived just as the final parade unveiled itself and the full-day of festivities was amazing. The the little, seaside village goes all-out in the creation of elaborate (and often satirical) floats. People from up and down the coast don costumes and masks. Some of them are parade participants, and others are just gregarious spectators. As day merges into night, dance parties emerge all over the city. This is a Mardi Gras with Italian attitude!
By Kiara Downey, AFAR Local Expert
55049 Viareggio, Province of Lucca, Italy