Sunday, April 01, 2018

Stopover: Viareggio

Viareggio, a town that during our planning appeared to be simply a train junction at the northwest corner of Tuscany, looked to be a place we were destined to go through.  We even considered making it a base, even though we chose Pistoia in the end.  Yet, we remained a little curious, because of its Art Nouveau buildings, not that we had high expectations, still we worked the train schedules to fit in a stopover.

Luggage storage on a stopover is always a multi-dimensional problem to contend with, both for availability and cost.  As soon as we stepped off the train, John spotted a bank of lockers on the platform, though dilapidated looking.  We walked over, were not surprised to find that they were not functional, and the prices were in Liras! 

We started walking towards the city center.  About the second door after we crossed the street from the station, we almost collided with a man coming out of a business.  We looked in -- a Chinese tailor shop.  We walked in.  After some brief exchanges in Chinese, our backpacks were dumped in the corner amongst bags of tailoring items ready for pickup.  The nice tailors from Wenzhou were doing a favor for a fellow Chinese -- problem solved satisfactorily.

Viareggio is set up differently from other seaside towns we have been.  Like the east coast of US, it is continuous flat beach.  The similarity ends there.  The beaches here are mostly private fenced-off enclaves that are entered from the promenade, so the commercial strip ends up facing away from the sea.   Viareggio does a month long Carnival celebration, the 2nd largest/wildest in Italy after Venice, probably to extend their season.  To be fair, Viareggio is a regular town, less than 10% of the buildings are hotels, about a quarter are open this time of the year.  Most of the businesses on the promenade are open.  I am now fully convinced that it is the viable vibrant communities we never hear of.  Only the struggling ones end up appealing for foreign visitors.

It was cool and cloudy with a prediction for zero precipitation when we arrived in Viareggio. After dropping our bags with the kind Chinese tailor we headed towards the beach promenade but soon took a sharp left on this lively pedestrian street which in turn led to the heart of the non-touristy section of the city and the ports and shipyards.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

And after a few blocks, armed with our booklet from the Montecatini TI, spotted an Art Nouveau building on our list.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

We walk along the ports to the beach promenade.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

The beach promenade is actually one block back from the mostly private beach.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

There are a series of Art Nouveau buildings starting with Teatro Eden.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Then the Gran Cafe Regina Margherita.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Our fav Bagno Balena. This is just the frontage on the promenade. Search online to see the actual "beach club" section.
Bagno Balena - Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

And Bagno Martinelli with ground floor shopping.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

This stretch of public beach looks pretty desolate now, the last week of March.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Farther down are the grand hotels with their rooms and bagnos taking up both sides of the promenade.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

BW Premier Collection Grand Hotel Royal.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Along the promenade.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Mixed in with the hotels are some fine Art Nouveau villas.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

We walk back to the train station with one more Art Nouveau villa to locate.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

We stop for a break at this empty-for-now stretch of Mediterranean beach.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

The "regular" part of the city.
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy




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