We stopped at the Hotel Astor in Viareggio for twelve nights in September 2007. We flew by Ryanair from Nottingham East Midlands Airport. We enjoyed 10 clear and hot days (27 to 29 degrees) but 2 stormy days with thunderstorms and heavy showers. Viareggio is a pleasant unpretentious seaside resort with the town all behind a long promenade (about 2 miles) and extending south and north to linked resorts. There is a range of stunning mountains behind and views all the way north to La Spezcia. The town has a daily market and a special market on Thursday morning along the promenade. Shops in the town are generally small and meant for the local population. The promenade has a host of restaurants, pizzerias, gelaterias and ‘boutique’ shops. We found the restaurants of good quality, reasonably priced but with slightly limited menus. There is a large ‘pleasure’ harbour with a large number of stunning yachts and ship builders. There is a station, bus station and a central park with some children’s amusements. By the end of our second week many of the ‘tourist’ facilities were closing down for the winter. Viareggio has no ‘tourist attractions’ in itself but has good bus and rail connections to the north, Lucca, Pisa and Florence. Pisa is easy to explore on foot but its only real attraction is the Leaning Tower – a must – a timed visit (usually 2 hours later than the booking time) to the top of the Tower is well worth 15 euros. The piazza is very busy with too many souvenir traders. The Tourist Bus (from the Station and the Piazza di Miracoli is of limited value (45 minute circuit for 20 euros). Florence is heaving with Tourists - the Cathedral is splendid, the jewellers on the Ponte Vecchio are top price, the tourist bus (two lines) can be picked up at the Station and is 20 euros for an hour and a half and goes up the hills on both banks of the Arno – well worth it. Lucca was splendid – the town walls can be walked in an hour and the centre of the town is very attractive – visit the Torre Guingi (3 euros) for a great view. Livorno is very much a working port (little of general interest) and Forte dei Marmi is a bit of a waste of time on a rainy day.
You can also get a train from Viareggio to Milan, Genoa and Rome (with changes). Travel is inexpensive (2.8 euros by train to Pisa (20 minutes) – 3 an hour) and 8 euros to Florence (2 hours) – 1 train an hour. Taxi to the Airport is 70 euros (30 minutes), so either go by train (there is a station at the Airport) or by Bus (4 euros – 1 hour). Buses are inexpensive and relatively frequent. The Airport at Pisa is small and a bit crowded – allow the maximum you can to get through the security checks – don’t count on time for Duty Free!