Our tour of Versilia commences in Viareggio, one of the most elegant town's on the Tuscan coast, famous for its baths, villas and Grand Hotels, all of which built in sophisticated Liberty style. Despite being blessed with wonderful sandy beaches and shady pine woods, Viareggio is actually best known for the Carnival which, since 1873, has been held here each year. Whilst in Viareggio, we take time to visit the Torre Matilde, defence tower erected in 1542.

Leaving the bustling Viareggio behind us, we head in to the tranquil hillside preceding the Apuan Alps as far as the town of Camaiore. On the immediate outskirts of the town lies the Badia di San Pietro, founded by Benedictine Monks in the 8th century. The edifice is accessed by a magnificent 14th century doorway, next to which a section of the original monastery wall can still be observed.

Travelling along the road which leads to Pietrasanta, we stop off at Montèggiori, enchanting hamlet which has perfectly conserved its appearance as medieval fortified village. Situated on the slopes of Monte Gabberi, 265m above sea level, Montèggiori boasts fabulous views of Versilia and the surrounding hillside.

A mere 10kms and we arrive in Pietrasanta, town of medieval origin known for its tradition of marble sculpting. Since the 1950's a considerable number of artists have opened galleries and workshops here. The first was Henri Moore, followed by Hans Arp, Joan Mirò and Fernando Botero, a number of whose works are displayed in the streets and piazzas of the town.

Before returning towards the coast we take time to visit the nearby Valdicastello Carducci and the house in which Giosuè Carducci was born. The dwelling, national monument since 1907, the year in which the poet passed away, is filled with memorabilia and rare works of art. Close by there is the small 9th century Church of San Giovanni and Santa Felicita, one of the oldest houses of worship in the whole of Versilia.

Finally, we arrive in Forte dei Marmi, the world famous bathing resort named after the fortress built by the Grand Duke Leopoldo in 1788 in the center of the town so as to guard over his territories and the vast quantities of marble extracted from the Apuan Alps and subsequently loaded on to ships for transportation across the sea.

For the gourmand, who has had his full of the exquisite fish dishes served in the exclusive restaurants of Forte dei Marmi, a trip to Colonnata to taste the town's famous "lardo" is obligatory. This speciality is made from layers of meat taken from the pig's back, separated by sea salt, garlic, rosemary, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, cloves, aniseed, sage and oregano, and left to cure for eight to ten months in purpose-built marble moulds. On the second Sunday after Italy's national ferragosto holiday (August 15th) the town hosts the "Sagra del Lardo" fair.