The Tuscans have the faculty of making much of common things and converting small occasions into great pleasures.
With this post, we invite you along with us to explore the idyllic Tuscan seaside area of Marina di Pietrasanta. Here, there are summer months of long days spent bronzing in the golden sun, playing in the soft sand, and cooling off in the salty Mediterranean. Life has a slower pace, a savory taste of fresh food and freedom from all external constraint.
Lea, Nastassja, and Nicola walking along the shores of Marina di Pietrasanta. The sand is soft and the water shallow and warm, with gentle waves- but watch out for meduse (octopi)!
The beaches of Marina di Pietrasanta are public- anyone can swim or walk on them- but are lined with establishments called bagnos (baths) where you can rent a cabin, umbrella, and lounge chairs and spend the entire day lounging comfortably in their facilities for a daily, weekly, or seasonal fee. Nastassja and Nicola’s family has been coming to Bagno Europa for generations.
Nastassja at our beach tent.
Lea getting some sun.
Many of the bagnos also have cafés or restaurants where you can get refreshments- ice cream, coffee, water- or lunch- pasta, paninis, fresh seafood. Here, Nastassja and Nicola walk towards Bagno Europa’s café for lunch after a game of beach volleyball.
Each bagno has their own signature colored tents and umbrellas (Europa’s are blue and white striped) and other forms of beach fun, like patines (boats) to rent, nets for volleyball and other games, and often playgrounds for children. There’s also an open shower next to the sea to rinse off the salt, and private restroom and shower cabins in the main building.
Nastassja at the same beach as a baby in 1994!
Here’s Nastassja’s mom, Angel, at Bagno Europa in the early ’90s when Nicola and Angel lived here in Italy.
Little Nicola here in the ’60s!
Some of the family- Nicola and Mamma Adriana are in the middle- under a beach umbrella at Bagno Europa in the ’60s. You can see the family’s beach house across the street in the background!
The back of the beach house in the ’60s.
A bit further back- this is Nastassja’s Nonna Adriana (on the right) and her sisters Miry (second from left), and Rori (third from right) with their friends on the beach here as teenagers in the 1930s. When we showed them this photo, we said, “That’s a handsome guy on the left!” Miry (holding his arm in the photo) laughed and said, “I know!! That was my first crush!”
Some more vintage gold from the late ’30s. Family and friends half posing for a photo. Rori, Miry, and Adriana are in the second row.
Rori (front, second from left) with friends in the water.
This one’s our favorite. The three Vittori sisters (Rori fourth from left, Adriana second from right, and Miry on the right) and their friends bicycle around town. Adriana describes how much she loved biking as a girl and the feeling of independence and freedom it gave her, as well as how much she liked wearing pants or shorts. She remembers that the young people weren’t allowed to go off alone- here their Zio (Uncle) Gastone stands in the middle as a chaperone. Sometimes their mother Agnese would accompany them on long biking adventures in the surrounding area. Agnese wasn’t a very good cyclist, however; they’d often leave her behind as she couldn’t keep up!
Bicycles are still the best way to get around Marina di Pietrasanta and the surrounding area- Forte di Marmi is only a 10 minute ride away, and Pietrasanta is about 30 minutes. It’s easy to rent bicycles for the afternoon, week, or month from a little shop in town.
The entire seaside from Forte di Marmi to Viareggio- with Marina di Pietrasanta in the middle- is lined with scores of bagnos, each with its own ambiance, clientele, services, food, and style. Each bagno is recognizable from the street by its distinctive sign, and from the beachfront by its unique umbrellas.
Here are some examples of other bagnos:
We visited Nicola’s childhood friend Massimo Battelli at the bagno his family operates- Bagno Battelli. Here Nastassja and Nicola sit under the lifeguarding tent with Massimo and the lifeguard on duty.
The teal umbrellas of Bagno Battelli with the Alpi Apuane in the background.
Massimo’s dog Jenny asleep on duty. Jenny goes everywhere with Massimo- but doesn’t make a great lifeguard. She came out for a boat ride and swim with us after this nap.
At night, all the bagnos close, but some have lounges and other forms of nightlife. Bagno Battelli is home to Lola Juice Bar, where you can get a wide variety of delicious fresh fruit smoothies- alcoholic and nonalcoholic- to cool off after a day in the sun.
We love the playful, eclectic, cozy ambiance of Lola Juice Bar!
Hanging out with Massimo and Jenny.
Lea and Nastassja enjoying a Kiwi Capiroska and a Strawberry Mojito. Delizioso!
– Transportation –
- Closest Airport: Pisa International Airport Galileo Galilei (including cheap flights from within Europe through Ryan Air)
- From the airport take the bus (in Italy commonly known as a “Pullman”) to Viareggio. The main bus stop in Viareggio is right on the lungomare (long beach / outdoor mall area) – from here you will see a small ticket office where you can get bus tickets to anywhere in the area- if you tell the vendor where you’re going, they’ll tell you which number bus to take and what time it comes. Regular regional tickets, which you can use to get to Marina di Pietrasanta, are €1.60. You can get these local bus tickets at any Giornalaio (newspaper store) or Tabacchi (tobacco store) – you will find that these stores are all over the place in Italy- but usually only accept cash!
- From Viareggio take the local bus to “Pietrasanta via Fiumetto” – Make sure it says Fiumetto because Pietrasanta is different from Marina di Pietrasanta. You can ask the driver if the bus stops in “Tonfano” (the name of the local outdoor mall area) to be sure it makes the right stop. – You can say “Questo pullman va a Tonfano?”
- Bus Pro-tip: You can ask your hotel exactly which stop you should get off at – make sure to ask how you can identify that the stop is coming up so you can push the button requesting the next stop since the bus will not announce the upcoming stops and will not stop unless it is requested, you just have to know that it is next. You can also mention where you are going to the driver when you get on since they will know what stop is closest, but they might find this annoying, or not remind you that the stop is coming if there are many people on the bus.
- Bus Pro-tip 2: There is a different bus schedule during the summer than during the winter, so if you are checking the bus schedule online be sure to check which season it is.
- Train: Viareggio also has a train station you can get to from other stations throughout Europe. Just outside of the train station is a bus stop where you can get the same bus mentioned above to Marina di Pietrasanta. Inside the train station (if it is not too late in the day) there is a small Giornalaio where you can get a ticket.
- Train Pro-tip: you can get tickets to other destinations from inside the train station either from the ticket office or from a machine – GO TO THE MACHINE – the people in the train office often are not very helpful or nice, and they do not speak very good english. The machine is available in different languages and you can see all your options, whereas the people who work there will not be so forthcoming.
- Train Pro-tip 2: Some train tickets are useful for multiple days or hours after purchase and do not have the information of the actual train you chose (i.e. the train number, gate, and time) so take a photo of the train name, number and time from the screen before you print it. If you miss your train, you can just take the next one. You will need to validate your ticket (get it stamped) in a little machine next to the gate before getting on. If your ticket is checked on the train and is not validated, you can be fined. Other train tickets are for a specific train- these ones will have the train number and time on it BUT if you miss the train the ticket is nonrefundable and you will have to get a new one.
– Accommodations –
- The bagnos are open from mid May to mid October. We suggest going in June or July for the nicest sunbathing and swimming without the biggest crowds; or in September for a bit cooler weather and even less people. Many bagnos are easier to book in person than online, however, if you are going during the high season (August) many will be full; the best option is to call and reserve a spot then pay upon arrival.
- Most of the places to stay in Marina di Pietrasanta are small local hotels, rather than chains. Some bagnos are affiliated with small local hotels, and bagno access is included with your room- be sure to ask, since this is a great way to save. You can browse hotels and other accommodations on TripAdvisor.
– Must See –
- Go to Lola Juice Bar, aka Lemon Bar for a nice fruity drink and bohemian vibes right on the beach.
- Go to Cafe Versilia for the best coffee and pastries.
- Get bikes at the local bike rental store on Via Carducci – there is no sign for the name but its pretty obvious with the bikes hanging in the window!
- Must go to the panetteria (fresh bread daily) just down the street from the bike store to get schiacciata (local tuscan focaccia – it will change your life!)
- Best bar for mixed drinks is Ugone on via Carducci – make sure to try local drinks like the Negroni (strong!) or Spritz (tamer). Get an aperitivo during happy hour to get yummy hors d’oeuvres with your drink.
- Follow the blog for more tips of things to do, where to eat and what to see while in Marina di Pietrasanta
– Wifi –
- Cafe Margherita in Tonfano on the corner in front of the big “Via Versilia” sign has free wifi for customers throughout the day
- Ugone also has great wifi for customers but is only open in the evenings during the summer.
- Some hotels have wifi included – check online or ask them!
- Wifi Pro-tip: You can put use many smart phones using just wifi, that way you can still text, make calls, and video chat without paying
- Wifi Pro-tip 2: some other establishments (like Lola Juice Bar) have free wifi but you can only access it by filling out an online form where you need to have an Italian phone number.
Next post will be about our magical journey into the Moroccan Sahara for ~Restival~