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  • Cityscape Naturally gifted
  • City life Hikes, bikes and sea dips

This stretch of northern Tuscany is a natural charmer; its winding coastline spans rust-coloured hills, dense pine forests, moorlands, and beaches graced with sand as white as Carrara's famous marble.

Versilia is named after its river, but there's no doubt that this destination has the sea at its heart. Celebrities have been lured to its beaches since Shelley and Byron first donned bathing suits and dipped their toes in Tuscan waters. There's a brashness to some seaside resorts, but refreshingly, Versilia seems unaware of its own beauty: though the landscape makes for an intoxicating natural cocktail – the coast is a playboy's playground – a relaxed spirit prevails. Locals travel everywhere by bike (canny tourists do too), and the coastal glitz is tempered by generous doses of culture, history and hospitality.

Do go/Don’t go

Beware August – it's the peak holiday season for Italians and Versilia's beaches and hotels are always jam-packed. May–June and July–September are ideal times to hit the coast or countryside; a little cooler, and a lot less busy.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Pisa's Galileo Galilei International Airport is half an hour's drive from Versilia. Most low-cost UK airlines land here, including Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com). Alternatively, fly into Florence Airport or Genoa Airport with Alitalia Airlines (www.alitalia.com) or British Airways (www.britishairways.com).
  • Trains Pisa station is linked by rail to Viareggio, Pietrasanta, Forte Dei Marmi, Lucca and several major cities. There is also a direct service from Florence's central station, Firenze Santa Maria Novella, to Lucca and Viareggio; check Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.it) for timetables and fares.
  • Automobiles Hiring a car at the airport is the best way to explore the entire region; Avis (www.avis.co.uk) lends cars from Florence, Pisa and Genoa to most big towns in Versilia.
  • Taxis Travelling by taxi in Versilia is not recommended (there is a dearth of cabs and they're not known for reliability) so hop on a bike like a local. If you're not the two-wheel type, give Radiotaxi a go (+39 (0)584 45454).