When the summer sun steps up its game, Italians head to the beach – those that can take up residence seaside for 2-3 months! Here in Tuscany we’re fortunate to have a gorgeous coastline with plenty of clean beaches that provide top notch servies. The Blue Flag, or Bandiera Blu, is a certification from the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) given to a beach or marina when it meets high environmental and quality standards. It takes into account things like cleanliness and sustainability as well as what services are offered, like green areas, paths for pedestrians and bicycles, restrooms and more.
In 2015, 18 beaches in Tuscany have received this prestigious award; let’s take a look at the four main beach areas – starting from the top of the region and working our way down the coast – and which beaches got top marks this year.
The Versilia area, in the province of Lucca, is famous for its deep, umbrella-lined beaches and hopping summer nightlife. You can actually walk or jog easily down the coast all the way from Forte de Marmi in the north to Viareggio in the South, passing by Pietrasanta and Camaiore. Most of this area is lined with bathing establishments that provide changing rooms, showers, bars with snacks and even activities for a daily fee that usually includes an umbrella and 2 loungers. Services and activities are the main draw in this very civil area, but Pietrasanta has the largest spiaggia libera or “free beach” where you can arrive with your own umbrella, towels and cooler and enjoy it for free. Of all Tuscan beaches, Viareggio is the easiest to reach from Florence by public transportation.
The Pisan coast’s blue flag beaches this year are Marina di Pisa and Tirrenia/Calambrone. As you head farther south here, the beaches gradually get less deep, with stretches of shady woods right behind the beach. While the beaches on this stretch receive strong currents, Marina di Pisa is protected from the open sea by a breakwater that makes the beach experience more family-friendly.
Going down towards Livorno, the top beaches are at Livorno (Antignano, Quercianella), Rosignano Marittimo, Cecina, Bibbona, Castagneto Carducci, San Vincenzo, Piombino and Marciana Marina. Sometimes called the Etruscan Coast due to the number of Etruscan tombs to visit here, this area includes some of the most popular beaches of Tuscany, and they can actually be reached by regional train! There’s an incredible variety of beach types here – while Vada (at Rosignano Marittimo) has white sand – bring SPF 100! – near Antignano it’s quite rocky, making for crystalline water ideal for snorkeling.
Further south in the Maremma area, the top beaches stretch down from Follonica, through Castiglione delle Pescaia to Grosseto (both Marina di Grosseto and Principina a Mare), and down to the beaches of Monte Argentario. This popular area has find long stretches of sandy beaches, as well as some areas with reefs. Water is usually shallow for a long way out, making it ideal for families with kids. There are both paid bathing establishments and long stretches of public beach, especially at the regional Parco della Maremma, where entry numbers are limited. During the main summer months, you’re unlikely to find a quiet area all to yourself, but your best bet is probably Cala Violina, where you have to walk some 25 minutes from your parking spot to a beach that “sings” when you walk on it.
With research by Erik Oxenstierna