Every summer, from mid-June to September, my family and I lived in Forte dei Marmi. It is a charming little town by the Tyrrhenian Sea in the province of Lucca. The town was named so for its rare and precious marble varieties—primarily the renowned Carrara.
In the 19th century, Forte dei Marmi had been the favored residence for wealthy families from Tuscany and Northern Italy. Among the first to claim the town as their home were Fiat mogul Agnelli, British writer Aldus Huxley, Thomas Mann, Queen Paula of Belgium, film director Luchino Visconti, and later, famed tenor Andrea Boccelli and fashion designer Giorgio Armani.
The town is also known for its fragrant pine trees and sandy beach; and continues to remain a popular destination for businessmen, managers, politicians, showmen, movie stars and sport celebrities alike.
Many members of my family still spend their summers in Forte dei Marmi. They wouldn’t exchange its quiet yet trendy VIP atmosphere, street markets and the sparkling nightlife for any other of the world’s fabulous escapes.
Explore this jewel little town in 24 hours with the curation of my cousin Daniela Sasson, and then continue driving South.
12:30 pm: Check in
Grand hotel Imperiale *****Enjoy the town shopping scene, restaurants and cafes while being nestled in the pine woods piazza
The Principe Hotel *****For indulging in luxury on a 400m2oasis spa and the most wonderfully designed suites and rooms
Uma hotel ****For affordable rates, this modern hotel is surrounded by areas dedicated to relaxation and sport. It includes two clay tennis courts, an outdoor semi Olympic swimming pool, sunbathing loungers and umbrellas. It overlooks the Apuan Alps. Bikes rentals are available at the hotel entrance door. It’s great for families with small children.
3:00 pm: Late Lunch Da Orlando
Ride out on your bike for a delicious informal lunch. Da Orlando , where, resting on wooden benches under the shade of tall pine trees will savored the delicious homemade oven baked focaccies sandwiches served hot with a choice of melted cheese, tomatoes and basil, or (my favorite) onions and wild mushrooms. Don’t forget to try the hors contour Crostata di Frutti di Bosco. It is an incredibly delectable fresh fruit custard.
4:00 pm: Ride your bike and head to town amidst the penetrating scent of blooming white Jasmine drifting on silent villas fences beneath a star-filled sky. Inebriated by the sweet aroma and the soothing chirp of crickets, you will reach in a 15 minutes ride.
4:15 pm: Shop till you drop
Forte dei Marmi shopping area is partly pedestrian. It is concentrated between Piazza Garibaldi, Via Roma, Via Mazzini and Piazza Dante. Here you can shop for everything from clothing to crafts, food jewelry and design furnishings.
In the hot summer days, this outdoor mall welcomes everyone with open arms, especially celebrities, Russian and Arab tycoons and many curious tourists peering inside the expensive windows. The main avenues collect established brands from Italy and abroad including names like Prada, Tod’s, Versace, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Moncler, Scervino, Cavalli, Fiacchini, Volponi, Louis Vuitton, Rolex and Philippe Plein.
In my opinion what truly is unique about this cute little town are the small fashion boutiques and rare ateliers located on the side streets.
Check below my favorites Instagram accounts. (Websites too)
Fiacchini: Fashion forward multi-brand shops.
Dada: Restaurant Maito concept boutique Forte dei Marmi style.
Glamour in rose: Bohemian clothing and accessories in pastel glitters and sequins mostly all artisan-made.
Colibri: Handmade chic beachwear and kaftans.
Giovanni del forte:Maestro Giovanni Lenzoni will create in a few minutes your custom-made Zoccoli (Clogs).
Francini:They will make your beach embroidered and appliqué set of towels for the sun beds and household linens.
Angela Caputi:This Florentine artisan’s shop is truly one-of-a-kind. Extraordinary variety of colorful, tasteful or make-a-statement custom jewelry, reasonably priced.
Cassetti:Love these Italian-styled design jewelry very much. Some gifts, home ware, silver and watches.
Bartorelli:Classic jewelry but mostly luxury watches.
Morini:Important jewelry with colored diamonds, sapphires and rubies, and of course… watches.
Sergio Capone:They are the official retailers of Pomellato and some branded watches.
Fedeli:In love with the colorful Italian style bathing suits, cashmeres and clothing lines for men and women.
Borelli’s: This Neapolitan traditional tailor has been producing impeccable men shirts and suits since 1950.
Fate Folletti:Italians are known to be the biggest spenders on children clothing. This cute boutique is a true fairytale example.
7:00 pm:Aperitivo at the Capannina di Franceschi
La Capannina translates as “little hut” has been a famous hangout and dance venue. Over the years it became a noted entertainment venue and musical greats such as Edith Piaf, James Brown, Grace Jones and Gloria Gaynor have all performed here. Sip on some Negroni and olive verdi while watching the sunset.
9:00 pm: Dinner at Twiga
If you want to watch the most beautiful crowd in town then dine at the Japanese fusion Sumosan at this beach club. It is one of the most expensive of Versilia. Like the young VIP crowd from Rome, Florence and Milan, wear a combination of sequins and sneakers and a serious suntan. You will be dining and dancing at the sound of the most acclaimed International DJS under the stars.
Wednesday 7.00 am:Market Day.
Market of Forte in Piazza Marconi: This is not like any town market. In fact it features only quality goods, clothes and accessories of the best fashion brands. Also, the prices are much lower than nearby boutiques. The banks that expose the goods are placed all around the square shaded by large pines.
9.30 am: Breakfast at Caffe Principe in via Giosue Carducci
Order Chocolate hot Bomoboloni, cappuccino and a freshly-squeezed spremuta di pompelmo. This traditional cafe (the oldest in town) is located on a strategic spot. Watch Italian women with beach eyewear and handmade sandals ride bikes with their embroidered straw baskets filled with last minute errands, such as warm and by-the-dozen Focaccine da Vale (a sort of small salted focaccia bread), organic Tahitian sun lotion and the latest issue of Grazia magazine.
10.30 am/ 1.30 pm: Vitamin Sea
Forte dei Marmi beach is a bathing establishment called bagno or bagni. It’s well-equipped with cabins / changing rooms and lettini, sun-beds and tendoni, tents. Depending on the distance from the sea, the price per day can vary from $50 to $300 Euros per day per person. Before trading Versilia with the French Cote d’Azure, my parents, like most, Forte dei Marmini rented the tent with the cabin for the whole season to keep our toys, beach towels, flip-flops and bathing suits hassle-free, safe and well taken care of.
In Forte dei Marmi, your bagno, restaurants and often thee attached swimming pool defines you and your tribe. It’s like a second home where you cool off in the afternoon at your hotel or rented villa amid forests of pine trees.
Bagno Maito:Excellent restaurant renowned for its Tuscan specialties. Order Penne alla Maito in a Vodka creamy tomato sauce and basil.
Da Bruno: Winner of Monocle Restaurants Awards 2015, this beach restaurant is one of my favorites.
Bagno America:Trendy crowd from Rome, Florence and Milan. Book your table, Al Fresco with feet on the sand with Marcella. It’s only open for lunch.
Bagno Piero:One of the only establishments with a chic swimming pool. Have lunch on the only table placed on the small dune.