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It’s a little known fact that Pisa was once one of Italy’s most powerful seafaring republics. The first port was built in Roman times when the city was still situated directly on the sea. At the beginning of the 12th century, Pisa controlled the adjacent coasts of the Eastern and Western worlds. Sediment from the Arno and Serchio rivers caused the lagoon that originally surrounded Pisa to silt up during the 13th century. The 7 km2 Lago di Massaciuccoli in the Parco Naturale di Migliarino is the only remaining witness to the former lagoon.
Admittedly, the beaches around Pisa are not within walking distance, but there is a wonderful reason for this: the extraordinary Parco Naturale di Migliarino (San Rossore Massaciuccoli), with pine and holm oak forests meandering along the coast of Pisa for 23,000 hectares. This natural park extends from Viareggio to Livorno. The beaches of Marina di Pisa, Tirrenia and Calambrone are nestled within the park but nevertheless easily accessible from Pisa. The park itself is an attraction in its own right and well worth a visit.
Marina di Pisa is the seaside resort closest to Pisa, about 10 km outside the city. Though its sandy beaches may not be so wide, Marina di Pisa offers excellent fish restaurants, shallow water and a leisurely air. The stone breakwaters reliably protect the bay from wind and waves. It’s an ideal place for a dip in the ocean, even in the off season. Like almost everywhere else in the area, Marina di Pisa is especially suitable for families with children.
A little further south from Marina di Pisa are the small seaside resorts of Tirrenia and Calambrone – also placed against the beautiful background of the Parco Naturale di Migliarino.
Another destination ideal for families with children is Lido di Camaiore, half an hour from Pisa. An entrance fee is often charged but is well worth the investment. The beach promenade here is also very attractive. Take a stroll, relax on one of the benches, or tuck in at one of the many restaurants. Fantastic views across the sea as well as the fertile hinterland and the Apuan Alps can be had on many days.
A little more than 30 minutes away by car is the more upmarket Forte dei Marmi. As of the 19th century, this small village was transformed into one of the most elegant seaside resorts, attracting guests such as Thomas Mann, Aldous Huxley and D’Annunzio. Forte dei Marmi has remained both small and sophisticated. Nevertheless, the fine sand and the gentle access to the sea make it perfect for families. Beware the prices of the individual bagni, however. They can sometimes be very high. Visitors especially appreciate the expansive beach and the cleanliness. The cafés and the pedestrian zone around Piazza Garibaldi also should not be missed. If you love caricatures, you’ll enjoy the Museo della caricatura in Forte dei Marmi.