Destinazioni - Comune

Forte dei Marmi

Where Forte dei Marmi (Lucca)

Forte dei Marmi is a sea town and comune in the province of Lucca, in northern Tuscany (Italy). It is the birthplace of Paola Ruffo di Calabria, Queen of the Belgians from 1993 to 2013. Tourism is the principal activity of Forte dei Marmi's citizens. The population of the town, amounting to some 7,700, nearly triples during the summer, because of the hundreds of tourist who mainly come from Florence, Milan, Germany, and Russia. The city contains a gate built in a former bog, a historical artifact that relates to strategic planning by the ancient Roman army. In Italian Forte dei Marmi means "Fort of the marbles". The town takes its name from the fortress that rises in the middle of the main square, built under Grand Duke Peter Leopold, who was to become Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1788. The fortress was built to defend the coast from outer attacks, but in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century it became the place where the marble quarried from the Alpi Apuane (they are the same mountains of the famous marble of Carrara) was stocked before being sent to the pier for shipping. Forte dei Marmi's field hockey team is in the Italian A-league. History During their expansion within the Italian territory, the Romans settled in Versilia. The army managed to overcome the people of Liguria in the 2nd century BC, under the skillful command of the proconsuls Publius Cornelius Cethegus and Marcus Baebius Tamphilus. The whole territory was centuriated to create new settlements for the colonies coming from Luni and Lucca. The silver lead and iron mines were exploited and the area became a strong economic resource. Between Querceta (Serravezza) and the Vaiana area, where Forte dei Marmi is currently located, there was a road that represented one of the axes of the Roman land centuriation (This road was later called "Via delle mordure", and to this day it bears this name). Vaiana is mentioned in a document from 794 AC that registers the sale of a piece of land then called "Vaiano", where it was later discovered that there were springs that contributed to the waterlogging of the nearby countrysides. In 1515 the marble quarries of the Versilian municipalities were donated to the Medici family; consequently new quarries were opened and a new road was laid out to bring the marble blocks down to the sea, where a pier was built. In the mid-17th century, the Medici government decided to divert the flow of the river Versilia, to avoid the flooding of the town of Pietrasanta. A new course was laid so that the waters of the Versilia would overflow naturally in the swamps of lake Porta. This meant that the territories of Querceta and Vaiana had to be cut out of the river's trajectory. At about 1'500 meters, the river Versilia's new path crossed a road wanted and planned by the great artist Michelangelo, so a wooden bridge was built (this bridge was called "Ponte delle Tavole": "bridge made out of wooden planks"). Throughout the years, other canals were built and the area was reclaimed. The road became more and more important for the marble transportation. The first real settlement on the coast was called Caranna; it was not far from the watersprings of Vaiana. Later on, other settlements were built in what now is the current Forte dei Marmi city centre. Initially, the area was called "Magazzino del Ferro" (The Iron deposit) or "Magazzino della Magona" or "Magazzino dei Marmi" ( The Marble deposit) because of the only building on the seashore. The whole district was also known as "Marina"; the county road that went from Querceta to the sea is to this day known as "Provinciale di Marina" (Marina county road). In 1788 the Grand Duke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo I of Lorena planned and commissioned the construction of a fort, the Forte Lorense, to defend the marble shipments and promote the territory - to assure future settlements. It was similar to the forts of Marina di Castagneto and Marina di Bibbona on the Maremma seaside. The Fort was completed on the 6th of February 1788. It was an important defense point against pirate raids and it was also used as a deposit for the marble that came from the Apuane mountains and was destined to be shipped out to sea. Thus, the area began to be known as Forte dei Marmi (The Fortress of Marble). In 1833 the Grand Ducal Government asked the engineer Giovanni Franchi to reconstruct the Ponte delle Tavole (The bridge was then destroyed in 1944, during the nazi invasion of Italy. It was later built in bricks). In the meantime, the town of Forte dei Marmi had been under the administration of Pietrasanta, in 1438 under the Captaincy of Versilia (part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany) and after the Italian Unification in 1861 it was considered part of the municipality of Pietrasanta. The touristic development at the beginning of the '900s led to the birth of a city committee that asked for the detachment from Pietrasanta and planned on joining the town of Serravezza or on affirming its own independence. With the political support of the honourable Giovanni Montauti from Lucca, sponsored by the counts Siemens-Schuckert who owned most of the territory, Forte dei Marmi declared its independence on the 26th of April 1914. Forte dei Marmi was the holiday resort of the Agnelli family. Gianni Agnelli and his sisters spent their summer vacations at Villa Costanza, now part of the Augustus Hotel & Resort. Susanna Agnelli spoke about her childhood by the seaside in her autobiography "We Always Wore Sailor Suits". Virginia, mother of the famous lawyer Gianni and widow of Edoardo, died in a tragic car accident while driving from Rome to the popular beach resort. Tourism Tourism in Forte dei Marmi started at the end of the 18th century when the rich families of the inland went to the coast to breathe healthy air and to sandbathe. At the beginning of the 19th century many wealthy families from Tuscany and the north of Italy started to choose this town for their summer holidays. Later on, also European families started to do so. Many important and famous people started to arrive in the area and the first villas were built in the pinewood near the sea. The first ones were Agnelli, Siemens, Giovanni Gentile, Thomas Mann, Renato Fucini, Italo Balbo, Curzio Malaparte, Enrico Pea, Aldous Huxley, Guglielmo Marconi, the writer Riccardo Bacchelli, the sculptor Henry Moore, Luchino Visconti and many Italian noble families. Artists meeting every day talking about arts and culture created a group called Quarto Platano. The Grand Hotel in Forte became an important place for the European high society and the hotel was chosen also from the Belgian royal family. Tourism increased after the Second World War, especially in the Sixties when more and more families love spending their summer and this lovely paradise. Many houses and hotels were built near the sea. In 1991 hotels were 101, most of them open only during the summer and some of them family-run businesses. Today the area is still a popular destination for businessmen, managers, politicians, show-men, movie and sport stars. Forte dei Marmi continue to offer to its guests the same peace and tranquility. It is still a town immersed in the pinewood with a beautiful sand beach. It is not very crowded and it is ideal for biking and shopping. The number of hotels decreased from 101 in 1991 to 58 hotels today. However, the number of people that have bought vacation houses here has increased. The hotels are from 1 to 5 stars, the majority are 3 and 4 stars. Only 7 of them are one and two stars – in 1991 there were 45. Many of them have been renovated and are now apartments, private villas or three and four star hotels. Today, the 58 hotels have a total of 1.965 rooms. In 2010 in Forte dei Marmi 109.379 tourists spend an average of 3.9 nights for a total of 428.352 visits. The total visits were 423.250 in 2009 and 450.800 in 2008. In 2010, 49% were foreign tourists, in 2009 45% and in 2008 46%. The majority of Italian tourists come from Tuscany, then Lombardia, Piemonte, Emilia Romagna e the fifth region is Lazio. The foreign tourists came from Germany, Russia, Great Britain, Holland, France, Switzerland and the USA (ISTAT data). Historical bar, clubs and restaurants Ristorante "Bambaissa" La Capannina di Franceschi Caffè "Morin" Caffè "Principe" Caffè "Roma" Caffè "Milano" Ristorante "Gilda" Bar "Giardino" Pizzeria "Alessio" Pizzeria "Da Valè" Main sights The Fortress (Italian Fortino), after being employed as a postal service office, is now a museum of satirical art. It was damaged during a recent earthquake. Each Wednesday, a market is held which has become famous for deep discounts on designer clothes, leather goods, and other products. Famous residents Rock singer Zucchero spent most of his childhood here Poet and journalist Eugenio Montale, a Nobel prizewinner, spent his summers in Forte dei Marmi Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and his fiancée Veronica Berti live here, as do Bocelli's children and his former wife Tennis players Adriano Panatta and Paolo Bertolucci The Agnelli, one of the most important and influential families in Italy, spent their summers in Forte dei Marmi at the luxurious Villa Agnelli (Hotel Augustus Lido). British writer Aldous Huxley lived in Forte dei Marmi for part of the twenties British sculptor and artist, Henry Moore, had a studio in Forte dei Marmi and took up residence at the Hotel Ritz Forte Dei Marmi German writer Thomas Mann holidayed in Forte dei Marmi where his daughter, Elisabeth Mann Borgese, owned a villa Queen Paola of Belgium was born in Forte dei Marmi in 1937 Italian stylist Giorgio Armani has a villa in Forte dei Marmi Italian writer Carlo Mazzoni grew up in Forte dei Marmi Italian dance music producer Roberto Zanetti lives in Forte dei Marmi Twin towns Etterbeek, Belgium See also Tourism in Italy External links Website of the Comune of Forte dei Marmi Web pages about meetings with the sculptor Henry Moore in Forte Dei Marmi

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