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Forte dei Marmi

The dock of Forte dei Marmi

Forte dei Marmi is one of the most exclusive and worldly destinations in all of Versilia: a refined and elegant corner which has never succumbed to mass tourism.

The first nucleus of the town, beginning in the 16th century, was built around a garrison designed to defend the coast form attacks form Corsairs. Later, with the increase of marble production, shipping traffic was increased, and the tows of quarry workers and fishermen which had formed there began to grow in importance.

Between 1782 and 1788, Leopoldo I of the House of Lorraine build the impressive four-sided coastal fort to defend the swampy area then undergoing land reclaiming works, to make the area secure and promote human settlement, which was rather scarce at the time. Over the years, the physiognomy of the building has changed, and today, although it sits in a modern urban context, it is still somewhat the symbol of the place. In the 20th century Forte dei Marmi began to be one of the first holiday spots. Among its famous vacationers are such names as Thomas Mann, Gabriele D’Annunzio and Curzio Malaspina.

Like many of Versilia’s other centres, the Forte’s urban plan is made up of a grid of regular tree-lined streets. The only important monument form the past is the granducal fort, which rises out of Piazza Garibaldi, among the quiet pines. On one side of the fort is a beautiful 18th century well. One of the oldest remaining buildings possibly dates to the 16th century; the Magazzino del Ferro, or la Magona, a customs house for handling marble, recently restored and now the home of a local radio station.
Although the public cannot visit it, on the outside of the building, well in sight, are a pair of Medici coat-of-arm. Forte’s environment is worldly, although discreet and restful, set in the lush pine woods and tree-lined street of the centre. Among the locales, it is worth visiting the historic Capannina di Franceschi, riding the crest of the wave since 1929, when Achille Franceschini transformed an old hut into an exclusive spot for the jet-set of the day. It owes its fame to the formula of restrant with music and dancing. It is traditional for the vacationer to take a daily walk along the famous pier, which extends300 meters out to sea and once server for loading marble.

But Forte’s real beauty is its beaches, occupying the northern end of Versilia’s coastline between the mouth of the Fiumetto and that of the Cinquale. It is the only uniform and well-cared for beach to slope toward the sea, dotted by the colours of the bathing facilities. At the end of Forte dei Marmi is Vittoria Apuana, peaceful and exclusive garden-city, offering another splendid and well-equipped communal beach.