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Set on the Versilia Coast of Tuscany, Forte dei Marmi is sandwiched between the Ligurian Sea and the craggy, snow-capped peaks of the Apuan Alps. The town and its sandy stretch of Tuscan coastline has been popular with Italian and foreign visitors since the 19th century, when well-heeled urbanites flocked to the coastline in the summer months for a break from the city heat. Today, it’s a chic seafront retreat where grand villas hide in pine groves and designer boutiques and high-end restaurants line the streets. Rent a bike, cycle along the waterfront promenade and just soak it all in.

The beach is the main attraction in Forte dei Marmi and in typical Italian fashion, the full stretch is divided up between different beach clubs where visitors can rent loungers and sun umbrellas, dine at the restaurant and make use of the changing facilities. Behind it lies a long waterfront promenade and leafy streets lined with Liberty-style buildings and grand villas.

In the town, designer shops and gourmet dining options line the streets with major labels such as Fendi, Gucci, Prada and Dolce and Gabbana represented on two traffic-free, palm-lined main streets. For a more down-to-earth experience, Piazza Marconi has a local market every Wednesday morning and on Sunday mornings in the summer months.

Pier, Forte dei MarmiCycling is the main way to get around town — all the hotels offer rentals and the coastal road, which runs parallel to the beach for miles and miles, boasts dedicated bike lanes. You’ll see visitors lazily cycling to and from the beach, but if you prefer to explore a little further afield, you could head south along the coast to the popular beach town of Viareggio where the bustling waterfront promenade is the heart of activity in the summer months. In winter, the town is the place to go for February’s carnival street parades which feature giant papier mâché floats.

Another good spot for a day trip is Pietrasanta, just inland from Forte dei Marmi at the foot of the Apuan Alps. This small, historic town has long been renowned for its artists and sculptors. Local quarries supplied stone for Michelangelo and today the legacy is maintained by the tiny galleries and studios lining the streets. Its meandering lanes, small shops and modest cathedral make it a rewarding destination, and at just 15 minutes’ drive away, it’s also a good spot for dinner and an evening stroll in the setting sun.

Forte dei Marmi also makes a good base for visiting the Cinque Terre, about an hour and a half away, or the cities of western Tuscany including Lucca and Pisa.

Best time to visit

June and September are the best times to visit Forte dei Marmi — the weather is warm and dry but the summer crowds have yet to arrive. July and August are busy, with domestic visitors arriving in high numbers in August. April, May and October are also good times, though the weather can be unsettled, while many businesses close between November and March.

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Laura at the Roman Forum

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