Forte dei Marmi is a pleasant little town in 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 pottering around high-fashion boutiques, Star Michelin restaurants, and exclusive beach clubs.
Is Forte dei Marmi worth visiting?
Calm and sleepy during the long winters as lively and crowded in summer, Forte dei Marmi is one of the trendiest seaside resorts in Italy and Europe. Wealthy families from all over the world come to Forte to spend their beach holidays.
Where is Forte dei Marmi?
The town lies along the northern coast of Tuscany, not far from Lucca, Pisa, Florence, and Cinque Terre. It is part of an area called Versilia, famous in Italy and abroad for summer holidays.
What is the nearest airport to Forte dei Marmi?
The nearest airport to Forte dei Marmi is Pisa International Airport Galileo Galilei (PSA), which is about 45 km (28 miles) away and 40 minutes by car.
Another nearby airport is the International Florence Americo Vespucci (FLR), about 100 km (62 miles) and a bit more than an hour away by car. However, it is not unusual for many tourists to arrive in Italy at the airports of Milan Malpensa (MXP) and Rome Fiumicino (FCO) and then reach Forte dei Marmi by private transfer in about 3,5/4 hours.
How do I get to Forte dei Marmi?
The best way to get to Forte is by car. The town is located on the A12/E80, one of the main Italian highways. The exit to take is Versilia.
In town, if you plan to spend most of the time at the beach, you don’t really need a car. In this case, you can catch a train to the station of Forte dei Marmi-Seravezza-Querceta. The only inconvenience is that the train station is about 4 km (2,5 miles) from the center so you will need a taxi ride to take you there.
Landing at Pisa Airport you can take a taxi or use the train to get to Forte. If you are going to stay in a hotel, my suggestion is to ask the concierge to arrange a private transfer for you before your arrival in Italy.
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 main street 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 they call it Forte dei Marmi, a marble fort.
Only in the late 1800s, the tourist development begins. 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 wealth managers.
Things to do in Forte dei Marmi Italy
What is Forte dei Marmi famous for? Here are a few reasons why you should visit this coastal town of Tuscany in Italy.
Forte dei Marmi Beaches
Relax in exclusive beach clubs. Here 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.
Shopping in the Downtown
Wander around downtown between the shining windows of the boutiques. Look for brand-new bags, hand-made shoes, and high-fashion clothes. Shopping in Forte dei Marmi is a pretty cool idea. The colorful and pleasant pedestrian area hosts brands like Prada, Tod’s, Versace, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and Scervino. And other international fashion Maisons like Louis Vuitton, Rolex, and Moncler.
Forte dei Marmi Street Market
Every Wednesday morning of the year from 8 am to 1.30 pm, one of the most exclusive street markets in Italy takes place. 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 surfers riding waves.
Rent a bike
A bike is the best way to enjoy the slow pace of the town. 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 on your face. There is also no traffic along the small secondary roads where you benefit from the fresh shade of pine trees.
Star Michelin Restaurants 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 Michelin Stars 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 entertains the young generation.
Explore the Versilia and Cinque Terre
When in Forte, there is much more to do than shopping and beach life. This area of northern Tuscany called Versilia is 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.
- The town 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, owns the exclusive beach club Bambaissa.
- Hotel Byron, the seaside hotel recently renovated, with the star Michelin Restaurant Magnolia.
Other lovely hotels in Forte dei Marmi to recommend are:
- Villa Roma Imperiale is an excellent, high-quality hotel under the shadow of the pine trees of the Roma Imperiale district.
- Villa Grey is 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 is 4 stars hotel right in 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)
36 thoughts on “An exclusive day in Forte dei Marmi”
does anyone know if the Forte dei Marmi Sunday market is open in October specifically 9th October 2016 ?? appreciate any help with the answer to this question Grazie mille
Dear Lois, I confirm you that on 9th October 2016 there will be the market in Forte dei Marmi. Until the last sunday of October the market takes place every Wednesday and Sunday. Enjoy your shopping! 🙂
Is it worth a visit to Forte de Marmi in early April?
Yes, it worth it, especially if the weather is sunny.
any recommendations for the best beach in forte? i will be in florence in september and would like to visit forte for the day and i dont want to miss the beach ! but I’m kinda lost between beaches, do i have to be staying at a hotel to access a private beach or can i pay an admission fee for entry?
Hi Dema, thanks for your message. Most of the beach clubs are not owned by hotels, so you do not need to stay at a hotel to go at the beach. You can contact directly by phone or email the beach clubs asking for availabilities and rates. there are almost 100 beach clubs only in Forte dei Marmi…Also rates are very different. Depending on the kind of service offered (some of them also have a pool), you can find daily rates from approx Euro 50,00 to Euro 300,00 (for a beach cabana or umbrella, sun beds, chairs, table, changing room …).
Can you recommend a reasonably priced beach club that does not need to have a pool ,please .This is for late june early July .Thank you
Also a place to rent a bicycle with a basket
Dear Denise, for the beach club, have a look at Bagno Sandra or Bagno Salvatori. No pool, quiet, spacious. Both are out of the crowd of the center (where the pier and pedestrian area are) but still easy to reach by bike along the seaside promenade in 5/10 minutes. Otherwise, you can search in Marina di Pietrasanta which is next to Forte and rates are less expensive. To rent the bike you can go to “Coppa Bike” or to “Cicli Maggi”.
I will be in La Spezia for a day! on a Cruise… Do you recommend Forte for the day? I hear many good things, but not sure if is worth it for a day!
Dear Ana. thanks for the comment. My opinion is NO, it does NOT worth it for a day. From La Spezia, go to Portovenere instead. Or Cinque Terre.
Grazie Nicola for all of this information! This is perhaps the most comprehensive blog post I’ve come across re Forte; so much appreciated. This summer will be our first visit and I can’t wait (it’s a surprise for my husband; he thinks we are going camping! Haha).
I trying to figure out where to go after Venice. I arrive in Venice and depart from Florence (24AugAM – Sept03 mid-afternoon. I’m spending a few days in Venice but really wanted to spend some time in the Lucca region, with Lucca as a base before we move to Florence for a few days. This is our first time, so we don’t want to drive (son – 19 and mother ). But we are having a hard time finding transportation that works with our checkout time.
Two things we are looking for – a good beach town from where we can reach Luca center for a full day trip (we have some ancestors to look up there, and we want to spend some time there). Or even stay at luca center and get to a beach for a full day through late evening (but we are worried about transportation), and of course we want to do the Cinque Terre loop.
What would you recommend? Mainly our issue is transportation. We drive a lot here in Boston MA, but between signs being in Italtian, and being in unfamiliar area we didn’t think it would be good idea. I’m looking at options for private trips or taxis.. but not sure where to look.
Hi Anuja, thanks for writing. I try to give you some information that may help you:
– The best way to get from Venice to Lucca is the train. Speed train from Venice to Lucca and then Regionale train from Florence to Lucca. But I don’t know if they fit with your timetable. A private transfer may be an option: for sure the fastest but more expensive.
– From Lucca, getting to the beach is easy. Viareggio is the nearest town and you easily reach it by train.
– Otherwise, you can think of staying in Viareggio for a few days, so you have to the beach next to you. From there you can take a daily tour to Lucca, and also get a train to go to La Spezia/Cinque Terre (from the morning till the evening).
– Regarding Cinque Terre, there are also daily tours with a group from Florence. To be honest it is not the best way to enjoy CT but it is an option. Here is an example: https://bit.ly/3Qn1vG4
Hope this info may help you. Nicola
We will be visiting the area at the end of august staying in Lucca for a week with intentions of visiting the beach, cinque terra, etc as day trips. Would you suggest doing a coordinated tour of cinque terra or perhaps the boat cruise from Forte Dei Marmi mentioned in your article or is it best to just drive there and hike at our own pace? we do also want to spend a couple days at the beach. Beyond Forte Dei Marmi, any other key suggestions?
Hi Howard. Regarding Cinque Terre, I suggest you go by train. If not from Lucca, maybe from Viareggio. Otherwise, drive to La Spezia and from there take the train or the ferry. Take a look at this article I wrote. It is about how to get from Florence to Cinque Terre, but I give suggestions you can use even while staying in Lucca: https://mytravelintuscany.com/how-to-get-from-florence-to-cinque-terre/.
Concerning days at the beach, all the beach towns of Viareggio, Lido di Camaiore, Marina di Pietrasanta and Forte dei Marmi are ok. The beach is the same. In Forte dei Marmi perhaps you find more “exclusive” beach clubs than elsewhere (and obviously more expensive). If you do love to experience a day at a wild free beach, the one of “La Lecciona” in Viareggio is wonderful.
Driving from Lucca to the coastal area I would not miss a visit (better if in the late afternoon) at the historical center of Pietrasanta. It is super nice, full of art, sculptures and galleries.
Thanks for all the great info. I have a group of 6 and looking for non-Michelin restaurants. Any recommendations for more less fancy but good quality eats?
Oh yes. Pesce Baracca is next to the pier, but also Osteria del mare, Paradiso al Mare, Maitò, La Barca.
I understand that Bagno Flávio accepts dogs but it looks very expensive. Do you know if any other beach clubs in the area allow little dogs? We don’t need specific dog facilities or even access to sea as our little is scared of waves – just somewhere that he can come with us and lie under the sunbed. (We usually go to St Tropez as the beach clubs there are so dog friendly but we wanted to try Italy for a change this year but we’re struggling to find suitable beach clubs on a sandy -not pebble- beach). Thanks
We have a wedding to go to in Lucca late may , I’d to go the beach , forte dei marmi and cinque terre
Can you suggest where would be best to base ourselves and use public transport ?
Hey Iain, I would say Pietrasanta or Viareggio. They both have a train station so you can use it to go to Cinque Terre and also Lucca. The leg Viareggio – Lucca is direct.
I am staying in Forte Dei Marmi for 4 nights with my 3 teenage sons.. our hotel recommends Bagno Alciano for a beach day.. my kids love water sports.. do you know if some beach clubs have more water activities then others there?
Hi Amanda, thanks for the comment. I know that Nimbus Surfing Club in the nearby Marina di Pietrasanta organizes surf lessons, SUP lessons, and sailboats.
Hello Nicola,we are staying near the town for a week and will be celebrating the my granddaughter’s 5th birthday. Can you recommend a restaurant for this occasion. We are six adults and five children ranging from 1 to 11 years old. All love good food in a relaxed atmosphere and many if us are in this industry.
Hi Shelley, thanks for the comment. There are a lot of options in the area of Forte dei Marmi and its surroundings. For sure I suggest “Osteria del mare” and “Gilda” in Forte dei Marmi. At Pietrasanta historical center, I do really like the “Lunedi dello Studio” or “Stappasogni”.
Hi Nicola, I am so glad that I found your blog! We are a group of thirty 28 year olds who will be in Lucca the first week of May for a friends wedding (yes, lucky us!). We want to go out one night (a Monday) and it was recommended that we go to Viareggio/Versilia. We want to get dinner, have drinks, go dancing. Would you have time to make some recommendations? Thank you in advance!
Hi Deb, thanks for the comment. Lucky you to visit Tuscany for a wedding. They recommended you well saying Viareggio Versilia but on Monday evenings it will be hard to find a place where dance. Monday is the quieter day of the week. For sure you will find places to get an aperitivo and dine but I am not sure about dancing. In Viareggio, there is an area called “La Darsena” with many pubs/restaurants next to each other (Corsaro Rosso, Maki Maki, Carpe Diem). You can try to contact them. If you are a group of 30 people they might be able to organize a special night for you (dinner + music).
Hi I’m coming end of march how is the weather at this time? Also which resort is nicest between Viareggio Livorno Cecina and forte dei marma I want to visit the coast for the day not staying the night.
Hey Lou. cannot grant anything about the weather but usually, it is fine. pleasant temperature. Today we have 18°C along the coast. Cecina is a quiet place, and a good base for the night to visit the surroundings. Livorno is the biggest city on the coast and has a nice small historical center. It is good for half day trip. Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi have a nice center and promenades by the sea and many shops. In between, I highly recommend a stroll in Pietrasanta (the historical center, not the marina). It is lovely, full of art. I wrote about Cecina and Pietrasanta on the website.
Thankyou. I have read that Genoa is not so safe for tourists with many immigrants is this the case? Also where do you recommend around portofino?
Hi Lou. I have honestly never heard that Genoa is dangerous. You have to pay attention as in any city in the world. Don’t miss visiting San Fruttuoso. You can also go to Camogli or Santa Margherita Ligure and Rapallo.
Hi! I’m coming with a group of 12 girls to celebrate my sister pre wedding all late 20’s early 30’s. For a day on the beach would you recommend Viareggio or Forte Dei Marmi. This would be in early May! We are looking for beach clubs that aren’t too expensive but still lovely!
Pick one beach club in Viareggio. Nice places and less expensive than Forte dei Marmi.
Ciao Nicola! Could you recommend an affordable beach club in Forte Dei Marmi? All we need is beach chairs, umbrella, a changing space, and hopefully somewhere secure to store our belongings while we are in the water. We would just need it for a one day stay. Grazie! 🙂
Hi Natalija…not an easy question. In Forte dei Marmi everything is more expensive than in the other towns along the coast. But if you go out of peak season (the second half of June until the end of August) I think you can find nice places without paying a fortune. Have a try with Bagno Carla.
Thankyou. May I ask about trains to Pisa and Florence do I need to prebook or can I buy tickets on the day of travel?
Which town do you recommend visiting between Pisa,Florence,Genoa and Bologna? Your advice is appreciated.
Hey Lou. You can buy train tickets even on the day of travel if they are Regionale Trains. It is better to book in advance if you use a fast train (for example, FRECCIAROSSA and ITALO from Firenze to Bologna, or Intercity Trains). Regarding the town to visit, I highly recommend Florence and Bologna where you can also spend a few nights. Pisa is an easy day trip from Florence.