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Forte Dei Marmi/Tuscany/rome

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Hi All

I am going to Forte Dei Marmi with my family staying about 10 minutes outside of it in Montignoso. We arrive in Rome and will be getting a car in the airport and driving up for 5 nights. We are thinking of doing cinque terre for one day, florence for another day, arezzo (possibly) forte dei marmi for a day and probably be there the night time. DOes anyone know any good restaurants bars or things to do in forte dei marmi.. also any other beautiful day trips we should check out.. then we are headed to rome for 2 nights.. anything there would be great too.. weve been there before and have seen the touristy things,, we want cute areas with restaurants.. and so on. We will be in rome august 15 and i just heard it a celebration or holiday there.. will the stores be open.. whats the best thing to do there?

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    There is a wonderful old-style local restaurant in Pietrasanta called da Beppino! Big rambling place with some outdoor seating, excellent wine list, classic dishes on the menu, which are all wonderful. Their mixed antipasto for two was enough for four, we thought, if you had any ideas about having multiple courses. Lots of local people eat there, especially business men, and of course families for Sunday dinner.

    It is a bit hard to find. It's on the south side of the town, and you turn off the main road near a cemetery toward the hills. It's kind of a rural looking neighborhood. If you have GPS it would be easier to find.

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    New to this and thought i had posted a reply but it didn't load so if a similar message from me comes up, its only my technical incompetence...

    Interesting the postings about Forte. I have been coming here for 20 years because my partner is italian and yes, its true there are no americans, no english, no french, no scandavians. there are germans at the beginning and end of season as its an expensive place and germans come to take advantage of out of season prices but otherwise its italians with a recent influx of russians. So if you want a place where you won't hear anything but italian for your whole stay - incredibly rare in italy now - this is your place. Its full immersion into Italian life. Forte dei Marmi has been a well kept secret outside of Italy but to everyone in Italy its their version of St Tropez/The Hamptons without any of the showiness. Tyler Brule in a New York Times article in 2007 described it as a cosy version of Palm Springs and in a June 7 2009 article, Frank Bruni described it as the a sort of Hamptons for the city of Milan, which is slightly more accurate. Set up a a resort in the 1920's because the high Carrara mountains right behind the town keep any bad weather well away from the town, it quickly attracted the smart summer set from Turin, Parma, Florence and Milan. All of whom built summer villas and most of whom still come to the same houses 90 years later. so for these people and the russians in this seaside village you have branches of Gucci, Prada, Principe (Brooks Bros of Florence), Cuccinelle, Armani, Versace etc etc. there also a market on Wednesdays (biggest day) and sundays that sells (ironically when you think of the heat) cashmere, fur coats, clothing and household goods. So its a place for well heeled people on holiday but its deliberately low key. As soon as a person arrives, their car is locked away and they bicycle everywhere. Traditionally the mother, nanny and children arrive as soon as the school holidays begin, the husband commute on weekend and finally get to stay the whole of August. Its interesting to see how the Russians have also happily taken up this relaxed summer life.

    to eat in the centre, there are restaurants all around the main square but the best ones for families are Bocconcino, Osteria del Mare, tre Stelle, and Fratellinis. they all serve a mix of seafood, meat and the first two also very good pizza. the more adult restaurants are Bistrot, Lorenzo and Maito. All of these are five minutes on bike from each other.

    But one evening at least should be spent in Pietrasanta, the neighbouring town laid out in roman times and still practically medieval in its buildings, pedestrian streets and squares. traditionally a left wing town full of artists - starting with Michaelangelo who stayed here while choosing marble in the mountains - and now the home of the sculptor Botero . it has street after street of great outside restaurants but i would recommend Enotcca Marcucci and Filippo. Like Forte, the shops stay open here until midnight but the shops here are much more arty and less brand conscious. Its a great contrast and ten minutes by car.

    Now someone - five years ago! - asked about beachclubs. Oddly my partners family has had a beachclub since 1932 and we run it now. We would LOVE to have any visitors but you need to choose your beachclub as there are 90-odd of them and they can be tiny or huge, they all have very different atmospheres. Almost all are family orientated as Forte is about families but some are more sedate - with more grandparents and occasional grandchildren. some are wild with troops of children running amok all day. Some have pools which helps to concentrate the children well away from the parents. All have places to eat, where you can either get a sandwich or a very expensive meal, depending upon the beachclub.

    we have seen non Italians come over the years and noticed that they often have this hectic itinerary planned - Lucca, Cinqueterre, Florence, Pisa. All of these places are easy distance away and well worth seeing but if you want to experience Italian life, rent a villa in forte and spend your week cycling to and from your beach club. You can save the Leaning Tower and Ponte Vecchio for another year. just sit under your little canvas roofed oavilion, sip a cool drink, read a book and plan your evening meal, just as your Italian neighbours will be doing

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