Viarregio is on the western Italian coast, slightly north of PIsa. Today it is a faded resort with all its beach front sold to private clubs. It sparkled glamourously in the early 1900s when the Passagiata del Mare was built by speculators in the Art Nouveau style. Unexpected amongst the tourist cafes and the usual concrete Italian resort buildings the Passagiata stands out as the stylish remains of a confident and leisured age.
For anyone with an interested in art nouveau architecture Viareggio is worth a day-trip and is easily accessible from most Tuscany cities.
The shops in the buildings are not always as stylish as the architecture.
Some of the buildings are hotels and apartments.
The art nouveau buildings are the first row of properties on the seafront. The ocean-side is inaccessible unless you have paid for beach access at the particular club that has rented the beach.
The most famous of all the art nouveau buildings in Viareggio is the Gran Caffe Margherita, designed by Alfredo Belluomini and the painter Galileo Chini. Originally built in wood it was brought bang up to date in 1928: