Florence is a treasure trove of culture, history and culinary delights that is truly is a gift that keeps on giving. The more you explore its artistic treasures and small museums the more there is to discover. Yet, when summer arrives, there’s nothing quite like a day at the beach. Whether you’re living in Florence or visiting during a holiday, don’t forget the beautiful beaches along the Tuscany coastline and just beyond. From the cliff hugging towns of the Cinque Terre to the rugged beaches of Maremma, here are the best beach experiences to enjoy near Florence.
Cinque Terre – Captivating Colors
Of course the colorful Cinque Terre needs no introduction. Although located in the region of Liguria, these five famous towns are just beyond the border with Tuscany past La Spezia. At just over a 100 miles from Florence, it’s possible to enjoy the Cinque Terre on a day trip by train or car. By train it’s only about 2.5 hours from Florence or 1.5 hours by car to La Spezia, a great jumping off point for exploring the area. Although you can hop from town to town with the 5 Terre Express train (or take a ferry), each town really does beckon you to linger by the sea. Given that each town is more beautiful than the next, you’ll surely be tempted to stay longer than a day. Find a sunny spot on the beach in Monterosso al Mare, gaze down on the perfect little port of Vernazza and explore the walks between Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
Don’t limit yourself to just the Cinque Terre as the entire Ligurian coastline is dotted with beautiful spots like the Parco Naturale Regionale di Porto Venere. Or head south to the long, flat and blessedly sandy beaches of Forte dei Marmi. At just over an hour’s drive, this is one of the quickest and most relaxing beach day trips from Florence.
Maremma – Hit the Tuscan Seaside
For a quieter seaside experience in Tuscany, put the Maremma on your radar. Stretching along the coastline of southern Tuscany from the town of Cecina and down into the region of Lazio, this rugged coastline is one of the least talked about yet beautiful natural spots in central Italy. Anchored by the city of Grosseto, the Maremma is beautiful to explore especially by car following the meandering coastline. Head to Monte Argentario, a peninsula that juts out from the coastline south of Grosseto where you’ll find the strada panoramica, a beautiful drive that begins in Porto Santo Stefano around south to Porto Ercole. For nature lovers, spend time exploring the Parco Regionale della Maremma. Stop along the way to see little hidden away coves like Cala del Gesso, a pretty beach with a view to a 16th-century tower nearby.
For a home base that’s ideal for setting out to explore the Maremma and Tuscan coastline, check out our Colombe Villa and Destino Villa properties for that ideal combination of Tuscan charm with seaside relaxation at your fingertips.
Livorno – A Fascinating Tuscan Port City
If you enjoy more of a city break than lounging by the beach, check out Livorno, which is a straight shot west of Florence and just south of Pisa. Hop in the car or on the train from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station and you’ll be there in only a little over an hour and a half.
When you arrive, you’ll find an intriguing city that was designed during the Renaissance as an “ideal town.” Be sure to visit the impressive checkerboard patterned Terrazza Mascagni, a waterside promenade is perfect for a leisurely seaside stroll. But you’ll also want to explore the 16th-century Fortezza Vecchia and the charming area called Venezia Nuova (New Venice). With its pretty canals and bridges, you’ll quickly understand the name. When it’s time to eat, head to Piazza Cavalotti where you’ll find the market district and the historic Mercato delle Vettovaglie covered market where you can find the freshest fish or try street food Livorno style.
Ready to hit the beach? Simply head down the coastline from Livorno for beautiful rocky beaches like Calignaia and Cala del Leone or continue on south along the coastline to reach the Maremma.
Famous for its massive Carnival, the Tuscan seaside city of Viareggio has a long and sandy beachfront lined with stabilimenti balneari. These are the classic Italian beach clubs where you can rent a sunbed and umbrella and spend the day lounging by the sea. It’s a true Italian experience and ideal if you like a fun and livelier beach atmosphere. Located along the coast between La Spezia to to the north and Livorno to the south, getting there couldn’t be easier from Florence. By car it’s a little over an hour and the train will take you to the Viareggio station in less than 2 hours and it’s about a 20 minute walk from there to the beach.
Elba – An Island Escape
Don’t think that you have to head to Sardinia or south to Capri for a gorgeous island experience in Italy. This small island is located between Corsica and the Tuscan coastline near Grosseto. A short ferry ride takes you the 6 miles from Piombino to Portoferraio, the largest town on Elba, in just about an hour. Famous as the island of Napoleon’s exile from 1814-1815, when he arrived he took up residence in Portoferraio. You can visit the Palazzina dei Mulini, one of his official residences on the island, as well as other important sites around the island associated with his brief period of sovereignty.
You’ll want to plan plenty of time to exploring the beaches around the island, which is a part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. The sea is brilliant blue and clear and little beaches tucked away in coves make the perfect swimming spots immersed in a natural setting. You’ll find beaches so beautiful you’ll wonder how Napoleon ever decided to leave!
Planning a holiday in Tuscany? Contact the Italy Perfect team to find out more about our Florence and Tuscany vacation rentals.