Viareggio, Carrara & Massa, Italy. 360° Travel Guide  Map View

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Viareggio & Basilica of San Piero   Zoom In Zoom Out

Esplanade Beach Interior di San Piero Basilica di San Piero
Esplanade Beach Interior di San Piero Basilica di San Piero

Viareggio's (Road of the Kings) has a history that extends back to the 16th century however its primary attraction is its long expanses of beach and is the main resort  in the Versilia. Viareggio has an attractive tree lined esplanade that runs parallel to the coast with hotels, bars restaurants and shops.

The 11/12th century Romanesqe Basilica di San Piero a Grado lies between Pisa and Livorno, south of Viareggio. Legend suggests it was built in 44AD when St Peter arrived from Antioch. In the Interior are three naves, early (4th century) Christian relics and 14th century paintings by Deodato Orlandi of Lucca.

Carrara   Zoom In Zoom Out

Piazza Alberica Piazza Duomo Duomo di Sant' Andrea Piazza Accademia
Piazza Alberica Piazza Duomo Duomo di Sant' Andrea Piazza Accademia

Carrara is most famous as the source for marble used in many of the great buildings and sculptures of ancient and medieval Italy, including the Parthenon and Michelangelo's David. In Carrara's attractive historic centre is the 15th century Piazza Alberica a beautifully preserved and a typical provincial town plaza of the time. A short walk away is Piazza Duomo with Carrara's Cathedral, its marble bell tower and a fountain. The Duomo di Sant' Andrea interior is very attractive and features a 14th century wooden crucifix and 15th century sculptures.


Massa & Castello Malaspina   Zoom In Zoom Out

Piazza Aranci Cattedrale di Santi Pietro & Francesco Interior of Duomo Cathedral courtyard
Piazza Aranci Duomo Interior of Duomo Cathedral courtyard

Massa has a historic centre and along the coast has developed the tourist resort of Marina di Massa. In the centre Piazza Aranci is a classic town square with fine buildings (unfortunately marred by a car park in its centre) including the red Palazzo Ducale (1550). Massa's 14th century Duomo Cattedrale di Santi Pietro & Francesco is a short walk away in an elevated position and in its attractive interior is a baptismal font, paintings and sculptures. To its side is a very atractive courtyard used for small exhibitions of artwork.

Adjoining chapel in Cathedral Panoramic from Castle View inside battlements
Adjoining chapel in Cathedral Panoramic from Castle View inside battlements

Adjoining the cathedral is another attractive chapel. Naturally in an elevated position, about a kilometre south east is the impressive Castello Malaspina from where you can enjoy a panoramic views of the town and surrounding countryside. The fortifications and battlements give a clear indication of this fortress's importance, the earliest written records of its existence are in 1164, although that structure was destroyed by Swedish troops in 1269. The remains of the Castello Malaspina you see date from between the 14th (keep; central tower) to the 16th century (ramparts and renaissance palace).

Renaissance courtyard Frescoed Panoramic view from Castle Malaspina Inside Malaspinian palace
Renaissance courtyard Frescoed "Camera Picta" in Palace Panoramic view Inside Malaspinian palace

It is a fascinating site to walk around as different ages of construction and function (from military defence to the obvious grandeur of the Renaissance courtyard and the Malaspinian Palazzo with its ornately decorated rooms; Camera Picta. The palace area is now used for exhibitions of historic and contemporary art and artefacts.