Sea, mountains, hills, endless sandy beaches and rich Mediterranean vegetation: very few other places are capable of offering such a variety of environments within a relatively limited space. This explain perfectly the charm of Versilia, symbol of fun and light heartedness, but also culture, nature and glamour. The Versilia coastline stretches across roughly 165 km of sandy beaches, with well organized resorts, and mountains which reach up to 1800m above sea level. It is situated in northern Tuscany, between the Cinquale in the north, the Apuane Alps in the east, the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west and lake Massaciuccoli in the South. Some famous localities are Pietrasanta, rich in art, culture and character, Forte dei Marmi vip tourist capital of the region, Viareggio with its liberty style buildings, carnival and lively nightlife. By contrast, Alta Versilia, made up of Servezza and Stazzema, are more peaceful and tranquil retreat. Camaiore, ideally located between sea and mountains, offers a bit of everything.
The Arcipelago Toscano National Park
The Arcipelago Toscano National Park is the largest marine Park in Europe: it safeguards 56,766 hectares of sea and 17,887 hectares of land. It includes the seven main islands of the Archipelago (Elba, Capraia, Gorgona, Pianosa, Montecristo, Giglio, Giannutri), some minor islands and cliffs. Like pearls in a necklace, these islands are different one from the other. Each of them preserves traces of its history, each of them is unique; their only common feature is represented by the beauty of the nature. You can reach them by sea from Livorno, Piombino or Porto Santo Stefano. Daily excursions are possible to visit Elba, Capraia, Gorgona, Giglio and Giannutri.
The Etruscan Coast and the Parks of Val di Cornia
For more than 90 uninterrupted kilometres, clear water shading from emerald green to deepest blue washes the coast where famous localities like Castiglioncello, Quercianella, Rosignano, Vada, Cecina, Bibbona, Marina di Castagneto and San Vincenzo follow one after the other. The water quality and services provided by the coastal resorts have been awarded the European Union's Blue Flag. Over 20% of the Costa degli Etruschi comprises Parks, protected areas, nature oases, and fauna reserves. Of particular note are the Bolgheri WWF Oasis, a wet zone of international importance and the Parks of the Val di Cornia, in the province of Livorno, which tell the thousand-year-old story of a country where the remains of the Etruscan town of Populonia and the evidence of the past activity of mining and metal-working are entwined with the splendid natural environments of Mediterranean sea and scrub. At Venturina in Val di Cornia the Valle del Sole and Calidario thermal spas offer treatments for health and psycho/physical wellbeing
The Park of Maremma
The area of Parco Naturale della Maremma, stretches along the Tyrrhenian coast from Principina a Mare to Alberese, and up to Talamone for 25 km. The Park is characterized by important geographical elements such as the last stretch of the river Ombrone, the mountains of the Uccellina, the marsh area of the Trappola, and the coast which is both sandy and characterized by steep cliffs. All of this is accompanied by an outstanding culinary and wine-making tradition. There are long stretches of fully equipped beaches of fine sand accompanied by pine forests, tiny coves with sweet sounding names and crystal-clear water, deserted beaches, uncontaminated islands, villages and castles. It offers a mixture of ancient civilizations, enduring local traditions, lush landscapes and numeroous nature reserves.
The Park of Migliarino-San Rossore
Parco Regionale di Migliarino, San Rossore, Massaciuccoli was established in 1979. It covers over 24,000 hectares situated along the coast from Viareggio to Livorno. Although it lies in the middle of a strongly urbanized area, the territory of this park it is one of the rare examples of non-building coastal area. The Park stretches along the coastal strip of the provinces of Pisa and Lucca, involving the Municipalities of Pisa, Viareggio, San Giuliano Terme, Vecchiano and Massarosa. The area was in the past covered by lagoons and marshes which have been gradually filled with the detritus carried by the river Serchio and Arno. Important features of this park are the sandy shores and dunes form the sandy shoreline stretching for about 23 km along the coast; the area covered with marshes, rivers, lakes and ponds is of about 3.000 hectares. A third of the Park area is covered with woods. Inside the park there is the LIPU Massaciuccoli Bird Watching Nature Sanctuary which offers: guided visits along the trails, visits by small boats along the so-called calatini, summer activities for children, summer camps, observation of the sky (shooting stars can be seen on the boat of the lake), Museo per l'Ecologia della palude (Museum for the Marsh Ecology) in the Nature Sanctuary, guided visits to the lake and the Roman Spas in Massaciuccoli.
The coastline of Liguria and its parks
The natural park of Cinque Terre
The Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, which is part of the Unesco world heritage, Sites since 1997 has environmental and cultural features which are essential to safeguard: overhanging coasts over the sea with bays and small beaches, thousands of kilometres of dry-stone walls enclosing the terraces where vineyards are cultivated, the characteristic rustics, the medieval quarters, the sanctuaries, the panoramic paths over the sea and the slopes. With the name Cinque Terre we mean the 15 km stretch of overhanging coast along the litoral of the eastern part of Liguria. The name Cinque Terre comes from the sea towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, which are situated at the same distance one from the other, clutched at the rock and hidden into narrow and steep valleys. The park comprises also the Cinque Terre Marine Protected Area and the Cetacean Sanctuary created to protect the natural features and marine fauna among the most varied and rich of Liguria and of the Mediterranean. In Monterosso you can visit the Virtual Aquarium where you can virtually "dive" into the sea of Cinque Terre while comfortably sitting in an armchair.
The Park of Porto Venere
Parco Naturale Regionale di Porto Venere, including a Marine Protected Area, covers the most important area of the eastern section of Liguria, developing on a total area of about 400 hectares. The Terrestrial Area includes Porto Venere historical town center, the islands Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto, and the coastal stretch going from the town to Valle dell'Albana. The whole area was declared in 1997 UNESCO World Heritage through the establishment of the site "Porto Venere Cinque Terre e Isole". Porto Venere is known above all for its tower-houses leaning one against the other and forming a multicolored group of buildings. They were built in the first half of the 12th century by the Genoese to transform the ancient Roman "portus" in the fortified outpost of their eastern border. These houses give the town a uniqueness which has transformed it into a famous tourist destination.
The Park of Portofino
The Portofino Promontory forms the northernmost coastal Protected Area in the Western Mediterranean Sea which lies among fresh Apennine woods and the warm Mediterranean waters. The Park, 30 Km east of Genova, stretches along the Riviera Ligure involving the Municipalities of Recco, Camogli, Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, Zoagli, Chiavari. You can reach the heart of the Promontory of Portofino Mountain exclusively by going along the thick network of hiking trails crossing it. Over 70 km of itineraries developing in about 1,000 hectares and giving the opportunity to visit the various locations of the Park. The itineraries mainly consist of ancient paved trails or dirt roads used to reach places of religious worship (S.Fruttuoso, S.Nicolò, La Cervara), to link the various towns, and reach the places of rural work (olive groves, woodlands and charcoal piles, maquis, and pastures). Along these trails, as you leave the noise of the city traffic, you will gradually reach the silence, fragrances, and colors of the nature of the Park, an uncontaminated oasis just a few dozen km from the urban area of Genoa.
The Poet Gulf
A coast of many colours, evocative and unique. Villages overlooking the sea, green hills and crystal clear water. The Gulf of Poets was loved by poets and writers like Shelley, Byron, Petrarch and Montale. To them this Gulf owns the name of Gulf of Poets, which from Lerici goes to Portovenere, embracing two promontories, beaches, rugged coast, blue sea, ancient villages and wilderness. Lerici, Tellaro, San Terenzo, Fezzano, Le Grazie, the island Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. This territory is so beautiful that different parks and protected areas have been created in order to protected it such as the Portofino Park, the Portovenere Park and the Park of Monte Marcello-Val di Magra. In the centre of this large bay is the city of La Spezia where there are two interesting museums: the Naval Museum and the Archaeological Museum housed in the castle of San Giorgio.
The Park of Monte Marcello - Magra: between Liguria and Tuscany
The Park of Montemarcello-Magra lies on a territory of more than 4000 hectares at the border between two regions: Liguria and Tuscany. Full of natural, historical and cultural features, it spreads over 18 municipalities. This park is particular because it protects costal, fluvial and hilly areas. The fluvial area includes a stretch of river Magra and of the river Vara until Ponte Santa Margherita. It represents a unique fluvial environment situated along one of the most important bird migratory ways. The hilly and costal area of the Park is represented by the area of the Caprione promontory, from Arcola towards the sea to Punta Bianca. Here on one side you have the view on the Gulf of La Spezia and the open sea, and on the other side the Magra estuary, the Luni plain, the Apuane Alps the Apuan coastline, and the Appennine. Montemarcello dominates from the top of the Caprione promontory. The village planimetry is unique among the neighbouring settlements, as it resembles a Roman "castrum" with perpendicular narrow streets. Ten hiking itineraries have been organized to discover this wonderful park on foot. The Park offers a wide range of activities: hiking, canoeing on the river Vara, boat trips on the river Magra, bird watching, walks among the plants and flowers of the Botanical garden in Montemarcello or in the narrows streets of the hamlets, walks on horse back along the Alta Via (High Track) of the Ligurian Mountains, cycling along the bicycle tracks on the river bank side, snorkelling.
Looking for a deep rural holiday far from city life and mass turism? Visit also La Bedina Holiday Housein Lunigiana, north Tuscany in a small medieval village along via Francigena, in the chestnut forests of the Appennine mountains