My Home Town - Viareggio Italy
by L. Serenella Leoni
An Italy vacation spot on the Riviera della Versilia, Viareggio, is a lovely beach resort town. Viareggio is well-known for its large beaches, lively night scene, the freshest of sea food specialties, large parks and a great place to forget your troubles. To those of us from Viareggio, there are many other facets of our town that occasional visitors may not catch.
In the winter months, the enormous floats of Italy's largest carnival take over the promenade. Hundreds of thousands of spectators join in for this nearly a month long "bacchanalia".
The carnival started quite small back in 1873 as a pre-Lenten brouhaha. The culminated on Martedì Grasso (Fat Tuesday.
Today it continues to draw large amounts of participants and is fully capable of transforming serious adults into whimsically masked pranksters.
Years ago, as a masquerading clown on a float along with my young son David and his father, I tossed multi-colored caramelle (candies) into the outstretched hands of the crowds below.
To many, the most beautiful aspect of the Passeggiata is the remaining group of historical buildings situated between the Burlamacca Canal and the Piazza Mazzini. A few buildings bear the master work influence of old Viareggio ship builders.
Several of the structures, in the enchanting "Liberty Style" (a type of Art Deco) built by the team of Alfredo Belluomini (architect) and Galileo Chini (artist) at the turn of the last century, ooze of days gone by.
Chini's unique style was influenced by his extended stay in Bangkok where he decorated the throne room of the King of Siam. This influence is very evident in the Gran' Caffe Margherita (one of the more famous of the liberty style buildings).
The town's young gentlemen, dressed in robes and pajamas, came here to see and be seen. Apparently, this was quite fashionable in the 1920s.
Still today, one can picture a handsome Giacomo Puccini in his elegant hunting outfit smoking a
cigar at one of the café's outdoor tables while catching the eyes of the passing ladies outfitted in the latest fashions.
They demurely smile to the maestro as the breeze plays with the feathers on their hats.
You can head towards my favorite destination here this fine Italy vacation spot, by passing the long, wide stretch of soft, sandy beach where you may cast your gaze on the miles of perfectly aligned rows of beach umbrellas standing at attention in readiness for the summer season.
Continue walking along the mile-long molo (pier), past the leisure walkers, bicycle riders, children at play and vendors of various wares; past the location where the best fishermen consistently out-fish and frustrate every other contender.
At the end of the pier, take a seat on the corner of marble wall furthest from the shore and look back at my piece of Tuscany. Out there, as you breathe in the fresh sea air, the view sends shivers down your spine.
The entire coast from Viareggio through the "Riviera della Versilia" and the Gulf of Poets at La Spezia is visible at this Italy vacation spot.
From the front of the port where world-class yachts are built and stand silhouetted against the sky to the main part of the city to the countryside that lies beyond, to the majesticApuan Alps scarred white by marble quarries, you are one with this scene.
In this moment, Viareggio is yours alone. Suddenly, the church bells in town commence ringing the noon hour. "Clang, clang, clang." The music of echoing chimes (some off-key) a bit muffled in the distance, adds another dimension of beauty to the scene.
You can experience a special sense of connection to the history of this part of the world as you record this memory. These are moments that will stay with you forever. Viareggio will become your favorite Italy vacation spot.
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