Under the Tuscan Sun

Clients can experience Italian luxury at beach clubs in Forte dei Marmi

By: Riana Lagarde

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The Villa Roma Imperiale Hotel is known for
its service and location near the beach.
Doppio,” said the dashingly handsome Italian man wearing only swim trunks and ordering espresso.

I blushed and tried to avert my stare. One of the regular guests gossiped that he is a soap opera star from Milan here in Forte dei Marmi on vacation. This sleepy town, nestled at the foothills of the Carrara Mountains in the Tuscan Italian Riviera, is one of the best-kept secrets of diplomats, movie stars and Italian VIPs.

I was there working as a part-time barista bartering my stay at one of the most posh bagni (beach clubs) in the area.

I spent mornings on the sandy Mediterranean beach bronzing myself in a canvas chair amongst the masses of organized rows of beach chairs and umbrellas. If clients are heading to Forte dei Marmi, they can rent chairs by the day in addition to private changing cabins, and light snacks are available beachside. Many bagni are booked years in advance, and at $216 a day for an umbrella, only the elite get sand in their sunscreen here. I was the only American, but they hung up an Old Glory flag for me at the beach club, and I promised to bring them a California flag upon my next visit.

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Forte dei Marmi is home to
many high-end shops.
Each morning, I rode my bicycle to the beach through the little town saying buon giorno to everyone along the way evoking in my head a vision of “Life Is Beautiful.” At the beach, clients can relax under the Tuscan sun with some esteemed celebrities. I lounged with a Formula One driver and his children, who discussed their excursions to the charming cliffside cities of Cinque Terre and to the leaning tower of Pisa, both only 30 minutes away. And on another occasion, the vice president of a multinational company told me about her long hike in the hills and her subsequent purchase of luxurious marble for her kitchen. The rugged Apuan Alps, the backdrop for Forte dei Marmi, look snow-capped year-round, but it is really the rich white marble that crowns their tops.

Like just about anywhere in Tuscany, at Forte dei Marmi, clients are in for a culinary treat. During my stay, I would wander through the club’s kitchen, gleaning that day’s ingredients: balsamic-marinated eggplant slices, sun-dried tomatoes, freshly sliced coppa, speck, parma and lardo were all among my favorites. The open-air pizza oven intrigued me, and I loved the smell of the crisp dough and quattro formaggio with just a sprinkle of local herbs roasting in the pizza oven. The chef grudgingly relinquished the recipe for the dough and it is now my best secret recipe.

After lunch, I would make espresso and worked on my Italian.

On the second Saturday or Sunday of the month, clients can head to the city for the antiques market, I would peddle their to take a gander at various Italian treasures, and I was able to discover some food gems of my own at Forti Baci, Orsa Maggiore and Tre Stelle restaurants. And each Wednesday morning, clients can head to the open-air market to look for bargains on fabrics, clothes and of course, Italian shoes.

Often at night, after the umbrellas were collapsed and the last of the sand swept off the floor, I would head one mile inland to the trendy and very artistic village of Pietrasanta. Clients can start an evening with a meal at the ultra-hip Lo Sprocco, serving aperitifs and baskets of homemade salamis. The restaurant offers al fresco dining where clients can take in the street scene. Or they can check out Ancilla, a small family hideaway with great modern decor and fantastic food.

After dinner, I would stroll along the cobblestone streets and visit the art galleries, which are open until all hours.


Hotel Augustus , one of the two five-star hotels in Forte dei Marmi, has its own bagno connected to the hotel property along the seaside boardwalk Viale Morin. Rates are $430-$720 per night.

Villa Roma Imperiale Hotel is a boutique hotel in Forte dei Marmi with impeccable and delightful service just steps from the beach and from the city center. Villa Roma Imperiale is a historical mansion with sprawling gardens and a pool.
39-0584 80841


Forte dei Marmi

Forti Baci Cafe
Viale Morin, 2

Ristorante L’Orsa Maggio
Via Arenile, 29

Trattoria Tre Stella
Via Montauti, 6