For more than a century, Viareggio has been the first seaside resort to make Versilia famous for its beaches and social life.
The beautiful Passeggiata, a pedestrian street that stretches for 2 kilometres parallel to the beach, embellished with buildings and villas in sumptuous Art Nouveau style, is the heart of the town, where tourists and locals love to stroll and shop in the best boutiques.
In history,Viareggio was a marshy area, infested with malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
It was only in the Middle Ages that a gradual reclamation began; the position was in fact strategic, as it was the outlet to the sea of the territory of Lucca and therefore important for trade. To defend the territory, especially from the Pisans, Lucca built a fortress, the still visible and recently restored Torre Matilde. Over time Viareggio began to be inhabited thanks to the development of agriculture and shipbuilding.
During the Napoleonic era, when scientific discoveries made it possible to understand the therapeutic use of bathing, it began to be appreciated and frequented as a holiday resort.
In 1800 the first "Bathing establishments" were built, at the beginning simple wooden piles, and only in the '900 began to develop a real tourism. Viareggio thus became a very famous and fashionable resort, and villas and houses were built in the characteristic Art Nouveau style, which are still displayed today on the seaside promenade and in the internal streets. It was the Belle Epoque and Viareggio began to attract holidaymakers who loved worldliness.
At the end of the 19th century, the traditional parade of allegorical Carnival floats also began, which the town immediately loved and developed over the years until it became an event of national and European importance. The Viareggio Carnival, now famous throughout the world, has become a symbol and a way of life for its inhabitants, so much so that the people of Viareggio say they have "confetti in their blood".
In the month of February, everything stops and Viareggio is completely absorbed by the celebration of this event, which is not limited to the parades of floats along the seaside boulevards, but is a succession of local festivals that are loved above all by young people. Almost like a sort of liberation, hidden behind carnival masks, everyone thinks only of having fun and forgetting the worries of everyday life.
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