Sometimes, when I travel, I just want to stay still. I find that hanging out I discover more than by endlessly hunting down landmarks. And there’s nowhere I prefer to stay put than at the beach. I grew up on the beaches of LA so that I prefer to never be too far from the ocean. And when it comes to Italian beaches, I feel at home in the Tuscan beach town of Forte Dei Marmi.
When I lived in Florence, Forte Dei Marmi was the regular weekend trip for me and my friends because it's just an hour away and yet a world away from the city. Forte is like the Hamptons of Italy. Okay, there's no Jitney—yes, there are prettier beaches, but everyone you know will be there and there's always a lot happening. With wide sand (not pebble!) beaches, lazy waves, and winding bike paths, it's an easy beach town that's the perfect place to spend a weekend.
On my latest trip, we rented a house and, for a group chilling out still we actually did a lot of swimming, biking, driving, and partying. If you find yourself in this part of Italy during the summer months, try to spend at least an afternoon biking and strolling around town—it’s less crowded than crowded Cinque Terre and more local than romantic Portofino—and will give you a good taste of true summer living in Italy.
WORTH CHECKING OUT
EAT Michelin-starred seafood: Il Bistrot
The most traditional of the restaurants we went to, Il Bistrot is a Michelin-starred seafood restaurant with a charming old but not aged feel. The service was impeccable but not too stuffy, the menu traditional but not boring, and it was the freshest fish we ate the whole trip.
EAT in style at The Fratellini's
Consider The Fratellini's the younger, hipper brother of Il Bistrot as they're owned by the same group but have a totally different vibe. The Fratellini's has a very modern feel with lots of minimalistic umbrellas, a teak deck, and sliding glass doors at the entry and the menu is just as contemporary. As is a bit of a trend in Italian fish restaurants, they serve sushi but I'd recommend skipping that in favor of their crudo options, their rich but subtle risottos, and the sea bass.
EAT the best food in Forte at Il Fortino
By far the best food we had in Forte, this family-owned restaurant was so good we went there twice. Its location on the town square is worth a visit but the pastas – especially the sea bass ravioli and the lobster gnocchi – were what we are still talking about.
EAT with an invite to Beach Club
The beachfront of Forte Dei Marmi is lined with beach club after beach club each with perfectly manicured sand, colorful umbrellas, and cheery changing rooms. Though some of the hotels have beach clubs you can use for the day, most of the clubs are private meaning you have to know someone to enter. Many of the clubs are interchangeable but The Beach Club has it’s own thing going on – with a minimalist décor and a dance club that goes into full swing at aperitivo -- so, if you're hunting down an invite, try to get one to Beach Club.
DRINK during Aperitivo at Costes
Yes, this is the same name as the hotel in Paris but, no, they are not related. Considering how small it is, Forte has quite a lively club scene but we weren’t really feeling the rowdiness so we hung out at lounges like Costes instead.
STAY at the phenom Hotel Principe
If you have the option to go 5 stars, then stay at The Principe – it wins hands down when it comes to location, service, and décor. On the recommendation of our friends from Milan, we went to 67 Sky Lounge Bar, their rooftop bar for aperitivo (aka happy hour), and they were the best cocktails we had in Forte. Also, their 360° view of the Versilia region gives you a chance to see everything from the beach to the marble quarries of Carrara.