Forte dei Marmi is a pleasant little town of northern Tuscany overlooking the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Renowned destination of luxury tourism, Forte dei Marmi is the perfect place for anyone who loves potter around high-fashion boutiques, Star Michelin restaurants, and exclusive beach clubs.
Calm and sleepy during the long winters as lively and crowded in summer, Forte dei Marmi is one of the trendiest seaside resorts of Italy and Europe. Wealthy families from all over the world come to Forte to spend their beach holidays.
Forte dei Marmi in brief
The story of Forte dei Marmi is relatively recent. Until the 16th Century, this coastal area was nothing more than marshland. In 1515 the Florentine family of the Medici received, as a gift from the local community, the marble quarry at the peak of the close Monte Altissimo. Development in the area would begin shortly.
At that time, Michelangelo Buonarroti was working for the Medici. He used to go to the quarries of Carrara to look for the best marble to make his artworks. The Master was forced to leave Carrara and move to the marble basins owned by the family.
As soon as extractions started, there was the need to build a road to carry the precious blocks of “white gold” from the mountain to the sea. For this reason, and thanks to Michelangelo, born the road called Via del Marmo. Nowadays this is the main street that crosses the town center from east to west.
The Origin of the name Forte dei Marmi
The name “Forte dei Marmi” derives from the 18th-century red fort you can see in the main square. The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Peter Leopold I of Lorraine, ordered the construction of the fort to defend the coast and the inland against Turkish assaults. It was used also as a storehouse of the marble extracted from the mountains before ship boarding. That’s why Forte dei Marmi, literally a fort of marbles.
Only in the late 1800s, the tourist development began. With time it became one of the most requested summer holiday destinations for aristocrats, diplomats, and businessmen. Today it is popular among national and international celebrities, politicians, football stars, and rich managers.
Things to do in Forte dei Marmi Italy
Relax in exclusive beach clubs
In Forte dei Marmi you find quiet and privacy. After so much work you can give yourself a few days of relaxation in the shade of pine trees or under your cabana by the beach. A fine sandy beach covers seven miles of coast and you can choose between many exclusive beach clubs.
Wander around downtown between the shining windows of the boutiques. Look for brand new bags, hand-made shoes, and high fashion clothes. The colorful and pleasant pedestrian area hosts brands like Prada, Tod’s, Versace, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Scervino. And other international fashion Maisons like Louis Vuitton, Rolex, and Moncler.
Every Wednesday morning of the year from 8 am to 1.30 pm, in Forte dei Marmi you have one of the most exclusive street markets in Italy. You can make great deals by buying designer clothes, cashmere, leather goods, or household items for a discounted price. Piazza Marconi is the location of the street market. Here is the square on the map.
Take a walk along the pier
Another unmissable thing to do in Forte dei Marmi is to walk along the beach or the old jetty. Take a deep breath and enjoy the salty breeze of the Mediterranean Sea. You will find old local men fishing, or couples in love pottering around. During days of wind, you can also stop to watch the surfers ride waves.
Rent a bike
A bike is the best way to enjoy the slow pace in Forte dei Marmi. Most of the hotels offer bicycles to their guests, and there are also a few shops in town where you can rent one. Go biking cannot be so easy and safe. A convenient bike path runs along the seaside boulevard. It is very pleasant to pedal in the sun and feel the touch of the summer air in your face. There is also no traffic along the small secondary roads where you benefit from the fresh shade of pine trees.
Star Michelin Restaurant and Nightlife
Where to eat in Forte Dei Marmi? This little town by the sea of Tuscany means excellence even when we talk about food. There are five star Michelin Restaurants here, and other good restaurants to taste delicious food and exquisite pizzas. Italians know the Versilia area for its nightlife since the ’60es when artists and celebrities came here to live the Dolce Vita. “La Capannina” di Franceschi has been opening since 1929 and still entertain the young generation.
Explore the Versilia and Cinque Terre
When in Forte dei Marmi, there is much more to do than shopping and beach life. This area of northern Tuscany called Versilia is so rich in places to discover and experiences to live in. We put them together in an article called 15 things to do in Versilia. You can choose between archaeological sites, natural parks, castles, and mountain hikes. But also decide to watch a Giacomo Puccini Opera in an open-air theatre, or wear a costume and take part in the Carnival Parades in Viareggio in February.
During the summer season, from the pier, you can also get the ferry to visit the amazing Cinque Terre and Portovenere. The tour lasts a full day departing approx at 10 am and returning by 6.00 pm. You can admire the five little villages from the sea, and stop for a few hours to walk around. You can buy tickets online or directly at the pier kiosk.
Curiosities about Forte dei Marmi
- “Il Forte” is the birthplace of Paola Ruffo di Calabria, Queen of the Belgians from 1993 to 2013.
- Gianni Agnelli, the former CEO of the Italian car company FIAT, used to spend his summer holidays with his family in Forte Dei Marmi. They owned the property of Villa Costanza, the current Hotel Augustus. His sister Susanna Agnelli, talked about those days by the sea in her book We Always Wore Sailor Suits.
- Forte Dei Marmi became in the course of time “the place to be”. And also the right place where to buy a villa. A few examples are the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, Giorgio Armani, the director Luchino Visconti, and the famous Andrea Bocelli. We also mention other international names like the sculptor Henry Moore, the novelist Thomas Mann, and the writer Aldous Huxley.
- In the Summer of 2014 and 2015, Andrea Bocelli opened the door of his Villa in Forte to host the exclusive dinner of the charity foundation Celebrity Fight Night. A long list of jet setters was invited drawing attention to Forte dei Marmi for a few days. With any luck, you could have crossed paths with the likes of Sophia Loren, David Foster, Reba McEntire, Lionel Richie, Zubin Meta, Larry King, John Legend, and George Clooney.
- Forte Dei Marmi has one of the best teams of roller hockey in Italy and Europe.
The best hotels in Forte dei Marmi
If you are considering Forte Dei Marmi as the destination for your summer holiday in Italy, here are some hotels we recommend.
5 Star Hotels
- Grand Hotel Imperiale, located in the very center of the town.
- Hotel Principe, modern style with a wonderful rooftop bar.
- Augustus Hotel & Resort, close to the beach, they own the exclusive beach club Bambaissa.
- Hotel Byron, the seaside hotel recently renovated, with the star Michelin Restaurant Magnolia.
Other lovely hotels to recommend are:
- Villa Roma Imperiale, an excellent, high-quality hotel under the shadow of the pine trees of the Roma Imperiale district.
- Villa Grey, a beachfront hotel with a brand new star Michelin Restaurant.
- Logos, 4 stars hotel with a swimming pool, two minutes walking from the beach.
- Goya, 4 stars hotel right into the pedestrian area.
- La Pineta al Mare, a family-run 3 stars hotel open since 1933, next to the beach.
- Versilia Lido UNA Esperienze, located in Lido di Camaiore with three restaurants, two pools, and tennis courts.
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(Last Update 03.02.2021)