If you’re not from Italy, it’s “easy to forget Tuscany even has a coast,” said Frank Bruni in The New York Times. Most visitors to the country “head straight for the hills and the art-stuffed inland cities” such as Siena, Lucca, and Florence, while “connoisseurs of the world’s great coasts” fawn over Amalfi, Sorrento, and Cinque Terre.” But the Tuscan shore remains far less traveled—and therefore less crowded—than any of these places. If you’re willing to “buck the tide” and dedicate your days to “Coppertone instead of Caravaggio,” Tuscany’s “unheralded stretch” of coastline won’t disappoint.
Near where the regions of Tuscany and Liguria meet, the city of Viareggio abuts a “majestic stretch” of the Apuane Alps. Yet the main attraction is its vast shoreline’s beaches—“ruthlessly efficient human rotisseries, set up for cooking people instead of chickens.” Lined with rows of lounge chairs “stretching as far as the eye can see,” these wide, flat stretches of sand spread for acres along the Tyrrhenian Sea. Viareggio’s neighbor and “haute-couture analogue” is Forte dei Marmi. The small village, with a population of less than 9,000, serves as a “sort of Hamptons” for nearby Milan. Its unique social culture is “equal parts high-ticket shopping and high-octane tanning, late-night clubbing and early morning walks.”
Those in search of a slightly less civilized getaway should seek out Monte Argentario, a “scenic, sea-skirted hump” connected to the shore by several sandy isthmuses. Though the peninsula may not have much in the way of beaches, a ride along its “slope-hugging road” can be thrilling and its panoramic views are nothing short of spectacular. Monte Argentario was once entirely separate from the mainland, and an archipelago of seven stunning islands still stands off the Tuscan coast. The biggest is Elba, where Napoleon was famously exiled. While the “relatively sleepy” towns of Tuscany’s most famous island may not compare to the sophistication of places like Capri, it has attractions of its own. Wild green mountains, clear turquoise water, and a rugged “perimeter of coves, cliffs, and comma-shaped beaches hugged by imposing ridges of land” make Elba seem worlds away from the rest of Italy.