The western Tuscan coast and magical islands of Italy certainly rank among the Mediterranean’s more interesting cruising grounds, offering a supreme blend of art, architecture, history, culture, regional cuisine, world-class scenery and superb summer weather.
One could happily cruise these shores for a lifetime!!
These are some of the places of particular interest:
Being bewitched by Atlanta in LA SPEZIA – although La Spezia town is fringed by commercial and military docks, the town itself is a bustling pleasant place. It has an excellent naval museum containing a large collection of maritime exhibits, among which is Atlanta, a bare breasted figurehead found floating in the Atlantic in 1864. She is said to bewitch sailors who gaze upon her head and to have caused four suicides to date, the last a young German naval cadet in 1944.
Touring the marble mines at CARRARA – the harbour is used for the shipment of the Carrara marble mined inland. Michelangelo favoured Carrara marble and it is still much in demand. In his day chisels and wooden wedges were used to prise out the marble, whereas today dynamite splits the rock along natural fissures. The marble industry is much in evidence around Carrara, everything from tombstones and statues to chess sets and ashtrays in the souvenir shops are made of marble.
Listening to Puccini near VIAREGGIO – Viareggio on the Tuscan coast is a popular and crowded summer resort, renowned for its carnival (late January to March) when there are colourful parades and masquerade balls. Close by are the towns of Lucca and Torre del Lago, where the famous Italian composer Giacomo Puccini was born and the annual summer opera festival is held in July and August – and where the celebrated composer is now buried in a small chapel in the ‘Villa Puccini’.
Holding up the leaning tower of PISA – a visit to Pisa on the Tuscan coast should be made not only to see the infamous tower, but also to see a city that was the hub of the empire that vied with Genoa and Venice for Mediterranean real estate. The cathedral, the tower, and surrounding buildings bring a vibrancy to the Romanesque with different coloured marbles and little turreted balconies. You should allot a bit of time for just wandering around after you have taken the usual photo of friends holding up the leaning tower.
Bathing in the crystalline sea of ROSIGNANO SOLVAY – Rosignano Solvay is a delightful village on the Tuscan coast which has become popular due to the wonderful pearl-white sandy beaches – almost like the Tropics. The splendid crystalline sea has been prized with prestigious resorts, sweet hills, historical hamlets and small villages immersed into a luxuriant green vegetation – all characterising the lovely area of Rosignano. The gastronomical tradition, rich in delicious recipes based in the local fish and the genuine agricultural produce, accompanied by the great wines of Costa degli Etruschi.
Viewing the panorama of Elba from SALIVOLI – the new harbour at Salivoli is located in the heart of Piombino overlooking the splendid panorama of the Island of Elba. Piombino is the ideal city for a day trip with its pleasant old town and wonderful Piazza Bovio, which has been newly renovated and has a 360 degree view of the sea. It has an ancient historical center, derived from the time in which it was the Etruscans’ port, in the surroundings of Populonia and in the Middle Ages, it was instead an important port of the Republic of Pisa.
Beaches to die for at PUNTA ALA – Punta Ala is part of a large leisure development that includes several hotels, apartments, a gold course and a riding school. The setting is wonderful with wild country around and the Scogli Porcellini running out from the point. The beaches are simply to die for – in fact, they are so unforgettable that they have their own Facebook group: the Punta Ala Beach Fans. Never windy and so close to the pine forests that there’s always some shade to sit in, these beaches are a must for anyone visiting Punta Ala.
Richard Reeves is the founder of Essential Sailing and if you have been inspired to relax on a luxury sailing holiday, why not make this idyllic world your reality.
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