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The Liberty Style in Versilia

Liberty buildings in Versilia


In the first years of 19th century, when Versilia approached the period of the "belle époque" (that’ s the same of ‘Modernism’ in Italy), Viareggio was conquered by the Liberty style. It was around 1905.

At the beginning there were only little signs of this new kind of art, but then it became a local taste, cause it was a sort of charming mixture of Arabic and northern artistic influences. In fact, many buildings according to this style date back to this same period. Some examples are Villa Bramanti, Villa Nistri (called the 'Moschea') and the numerous floral villas and the neo-Gothic ones displaced along all the area.

After the fire of 17th of October 1917, that destroyed all the operas built in wood (belonging to the first period of Liberty), there was a change of taste. In fact a new interest for Art Deco came to life. This kind of art is characterized by the use of many ceramic decorations which became an innovation characterizing all the architecture of ‘20s. Many examples of this style exist in Versilia, such as the Villa Argentina or the little Villa Arrighi.


Since 1900, the greatest Tuscan artists used to come to Versilia for their holidays wishing to enjoy its beaches, the coolness of its pinewoods and the sea breeze. Ideal place to be regenerated and find the right inspirations for new art works. There are in fact several architectural works, rich in spires, domes and small towers, decorated with flowery subjects typical of that period.

With the arrival of squires and of the middle-class people who were fleeing from the hot cities of Florence, Lucca, Siena, the bathing establishments in the typically Libery style took life in Viareggio and all this worldly pleasure contributed to augment the value of artists who availed of the local craftsmen's power to complete their works of art.

The Grand Caffè Margherita, the Balena bathing establishment, the Caffè Concerto Eden and various other palaces are all decorated with enamels, lacquers and ceramics typical of the ‘20s and ‘30s.
Having worked Galileo Chini (the painter) in Bangkok and founded the society ‘Arte della Ceramica’ (Ceramics Art), he gave his contribution by adding an oriental touch to lounges and walls of the luxurious Viareggio’ s palaces. Nowadays, these buildings have been turned into expensive hotels and they are still managed to keep intact many of their artistic details. Among those, the holiday Home of Galileo Chini, in Lido di Camaiore, which still maintains originally hanging paintings and frescoes in a gallery-museum dedicated to the painter.

Year 1924 signed a new decisive stage for the urban connotation of Viareggio; particularly, a project was organized to increase the tourist-bathing equipments of the town. The project consisted in the demolition of all of the bathing establishments in wood and to build some masonries on the site of them (the only chalet in wood remained is the so called "chalet Martini").
This extravagant art began to be substituted around 1928 by the artistic features of rationalism and of the fascist period.


Versilia gave us the well-known poet and writer Giosuè Carducci.
If you are interested into a special cultural run, you have to climb the road to Valdicastello Carducci and you’ ll can see the house where Carducci spent his childhood.

There is another famous and appreciated author who lived in Versilia, even if just for a period. This was Gabriele D’Annunzio, who stayed in the beautiful Villa of the Versiliana Park where he composed the majority of his operas, such as "La pioggia nel pineto", "La morte del cervo" and " "Undulna".

Every summer it is custom to commemorate these two world-known authors by the organization of lots of events attracting celebrities from Italy, but especially from abroad.

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