Famed for its annual Carnival, Viareggio is a picturesque Tuscan city overlooking the Ligurian Sea. It’s home to the former villa of Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister and is near Puccini’s elegant residence on the shores of Lago di Massaciuccoli.
Things to do in Viareggio
Wander through the former home of Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister, Villa Paolina, a 19th-century residence that now houses a museum of musical instruments and a gallery dedicated to contemporary art. Admire the villa’s French Neoclassical architecture and visit the “Alberto Carlo Blanc” Museum of Archaeology and Mankind where Paleolithic artefacts and Neolithic pottery are displayed.
Travel south to the village of Torre del Lago where Giacomo Puccini’s former residence has been transformed into a museum. Wander through the rooms where masterpieces such as “La Bohème”, “Tosca” and “Madame Butterfly” were conceived, with audio guides offering fascinating insight into his life and work.
Explore the shores of nearby Lago di Massaciuccoli, where Puccini was known to go hunting, and follow one of the boardwalks across its marshlands. Go birdwatching to spot great cormorants and herons, then discover the remains of a mosaic-floored Roman villa perched atop a hill overlooking the lake.
Viareggio is famed for its annual Carnival, but if your visit doesn’t coincide with this celebration, you can get a taste of its elaborate paper mâché floats at the Carnival Museum. Admire the statue of Burlamacco, which serves as the official mask of Viareggio, then learn about the various techniques and materials used in the construction of floats.
Getting around Viareggio
Viareggio is a 30-minute drive from Pisa International Airport and is connected to both Genoa and Rome by regular trains. Buses travel throughout Viareggio, but many attractions are accessible on foot.