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Travel: two weeks in Tuscany


As we're counting down the days to our 2023 holiday (Lombardia - Veneto - Tuscany roadtrip here we come), I figured I might as well blog about last year's trip. Also Tuscany, but the side people don't seem to visit that often - or at least they don't tell me about it. The coast!

In August 2023 we were preparing to drive down to the Côte d'Azur to the apartment we'd rented a couple of times before, feeling like a familiar place would be the best option during covid. But then Alpes-Maritimes turned into a red zone three days before we were supposed to leave and that left me with the task of having to cancel our plans and plan a new trip asap. We wanted someplace we could drive to easily in two days, not too far from the sea, where the weather was nice. Oh, and a covid green zone. So why not Viareggio, Tuscany? I booked three Airbnbs and off we were.

ITINERARY

We stayed one night in Baratte, Piemonte (just across the border into Italy), then 11 nights in Bargecchia, Lucca, and finally on the way back we made an overnight stop in Turin. 
 
Overall we were happy with that itinerary. Only thing I'd change was that on the way back I probably wouldn't stay in a large city like Turin where we lost some time (and energy) finding parking and getting to the city center. I'd prefer staying in a smaller town for that one night before heading back to Belgium. 

There was a mishap at one of those Airbnb's but after about a day of stalking our host and paying extra, we did end up at a dream place so let's just ignore that little issue until I decide to blog about Airbnb troubles. 


Travel: two weeks in Viareggio

Our first Airbnb was in Baratte, Piemonte. Just a short drive off the highway but in a quiet, peaceful little garden of Eden among the mountains. It was love at first sight and amazing value for money.

We picked the Piemonte region because it was at the end of about 9 hours of driving for us (9-10 hours in one day is our limit), because it didn't entail a long drive away from our main route, and because the region looked lovely. An extra reason to pick Piemonte as a stop on your way south is because after Piemonte you get a stretch of road along the Ligurian coast that is very windy and quite intensive to drive. Not the best place to have to navigate when you're already mentally exhausted from driving 9+ hours! 



 

After a restful night of sleep, we drove on to Bargecchia where we had the aforementioned Airbnb issue, but the day after that we ended up in our home away from home: Villa Jasmine. Time for a photo dump of our blissful days soaking up the sun, cooking in the gorgeous kitchen, having meals on the deck and marvelling at that view.

Travel: two weeks in Viareggio

Travel: two weeks in Viareggio

Travel: two weeks in Viareggio

Travel: two weeks in Viareggio


The Lucca region was picked because of its aforementioned proximity to the sea, but also within driving distance to many of Tuscany's famous cities: Florence, Pisa and Lucca itself, but also not far from the Cinque Terre area (which we ended up missing out on, sadly). One thing we would take into account now that we know the area better is that the driving distances along the coastline are often longer than they seem on Google Maps because you've got those winding roads in and out of the hills and the connection to the highway takes some time. Take that into account when planning your trip.

Bargecchia is just a short drive inland from Viareggio, which didn't appeal to us as a primary base because it felt like more of a touristy town based on our Google search. When we did end up exploring Viareggio, it actually turned out to be much more charming than expected - orange tree lined streets just have some type of magic. But we were happy we stayed back in the hills, with those views and the quiet nights. 



Travel: two weeks in Viareggio

Travel: two weeks in Viareggio

Travel: two weeks in Viareggio

Travel: two weeks in Viareggio

Viareggio has a collection of family friendly beach clubs where you can rent a chair + umbrella for about 15€ a day - we stayed at Bagno Roma and were very happy with that choice. You can easily message the owners via their Facebook to reserve a good spot the night before or the day of, depending on whether you're visiting during high season. July and August are the busiest times, and during those hot summer weeks families often book a spot at these beach clubs for a whole week so places can fill up quickly. We also had a surprisingly great dinner at Al 53 - a restaurant that looked more like the type of place where you get a sandwich or burger during a beach day, but the calamari stew we had was kind of sensational. 

Two other things to do in Viareggio I can wholeheartedly recommend: walk the pier to watch the sun set, and have gelato at Kremmy. Gelato is always good, but we went back to Kremmy multiple times because theirs was so good! Lots of gluten free/lactose free/vegan options too.

I'll be blogging about our day trips to Florence (twice), Lucca, Pisa, Pietrasanta and Massa soon - stay tuned!

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