Real estate law

A Typical Tuscan House: the ‘Viareggina’  

Lucca

glass window decoration artistic

Do you want a Viareggina?

In Italy, and particularly in Tuscany, when you hear about the “casa viareggina” (Viareggio-style house), some iconic images immediately come to mind. The Viareggio-style house is a type of property that developed in the first decades of the last century in the coastal area of Tuscany, the Versilia. 

The name itself comes straight from Viareggio, a coastal town in the province of Lucca that saw its golden age between the late 19th century and the 1980s. Even if the Second World War bombing damaged part of this beauty, nowadays Viareggio is still one of the most attracting Tuscan coastal towns, with its promenades, hectares of parks and forests, and tasty seafood. 

Modern Tuscan style Architecture

Often, whe we speak about Tuscan style architecture, we refer to Medieval and Reinassance buildings. Here in Versilia the coastline presents a dual character: on the one hand, there is the seaside architecture with beach resorts and shops, and on the other, the residential buildings. Many structures in the town exhibit a modernist-inspired style. And with this modernism, which in Italy is known as the Liberty Style, Viareggio takes on an almost exotic, Eastern feel, reinforced by its palm trees and majolica tiles.

The “viareggine” houses are bright and airy, with large French windows and expansive openings. These homes are equipped with small balconies and livable terraces, and the luckier ones even feature a tower – a central element of the Renaissance Tuscan villa architecture, reinterpreted in this coastal context.

Finally, the external decorations – the finest Viareggio houses often boast a precious array of ceramic embellishments along their exterior facades, sometimes crafted by artisans who have become local legends.

How is a Viareggina house composed?

Italian houses are normally built of stone, brick, and concrete, and the viaregginas are no exception. But what is it that makes the “Viareggio house” a true icon of Tuscan architecture?

Normally, this building is situated within a neighborhood of row houses, with a facade ranging from 3.50 to 7.00 meters wide across multiple floors. Typically, the ground floor features an entryway, a living room overlooking the main street, a bathroom, and the kitchen/dining room. A staircase in the hallway leads up to the main floor, where the sleeping quarters are located – more or less spacious depending on the overall size, but always including a bathroom.

viareggio promenade architecture liberty facade decoration

Exteriors: bright details on the facades, turrets and rooftops

The facades of Viareggio homes are often characterized by decorative details such as cornices, wrought iron balconies with intricate railings, and windows with ornamental embellishments. The entrance doors can be imposing and adorned with artistic flourishes.

In some more eclectic examples, the owners have indulged in the luxury of admiring the Viareggio panorama by adding turrets or rooftop terraces, which allow for breathtaking views of the sea, Liguria with Palmaria and the Cinque Terre, the islands of the Tuscan archipelago, and the Apuan Alps, especially on clear days.

Interiors: rooms to live pleasantly all year round

The interiors of Viareggio homes are rich with decorative details – frescoes, stucco-adorned ceilings, marble or terracotta floors, and marble or stone fireplaces, all of which lend a timeless elegance. Another distinctive feature, particularly in the larger Viareggio homes, is the “passetto” – a passage leading from the public street directly to the back of the building, where a garden, called a “court,” and an outbuilding with a single room and a side bathroom annex are located.

viareggina house with turettes

A tradition coming directly from the North of Europe

The recognizable character of the Viareggio villas is defined by Liberty-style elements, drawing inspiration from artistic and architectural movements like the Belgian Art Nouveau of the Horta School and the Austrian Secession of Otto Wagner. These details often feature curved, sinuous lines, floral motifs, wrought iron decorations, and stained glass. The facades may showcase elaborate stucco work, while the interiors are marked by decorated ceilings, marble or terrazzo floors – including those produced by the still-operating Tessieri company in Lucca.

Among the most prominent figures in this architectural landscape are Alessio Belluomini, considered the preeminent local architect, as well as Adolfo Coppedè, who worked extensively in Rome and Milan, engineer Enrico Salvais, who contributed to the Terrazza Mascagni project in Livorno, and artist Galileo Chini, who decorated some of Italy’s most beautiful palaces, including many villas in Viareggio and the King of Siam’ palace in Bangkok.

Where are the best Viareggio-style houses located?

This type of property is characteristic of central Viareggio, but the style, size, and ambiance can vary depending on the neighborhood. 

Some of the most elegant and impressive examples are found along the city’s historic thoroughfares, such as Viale Regina Margherita, Via Michelangelo Buonarroti, Via Amerigo Vespucci, and Via Garibaldi.

For those seeking a more intimate and authentic setting, there are also beautiful homes in the more historic areas and side streets that make up the heart of the city, like the captivating Via Leonardo da Vinci, or some of the market district’s main arteries, particularly Via Giuseppe Verdi and Via Antonio Fratti.

And for those looking to escape the lively center, there are perfect examples along the historic residential axes of the Darsena district, especially Via Paolo Savi and Via Virgilio, just steps from the historic shipyards.

Viareggina houses outside of Viareggio

In short, there is truly something to suit every taste, and if that weren’t enough, these lovely Viareggio homes can even be found in other areas of Versilia, such as Torre del Lago, Lido di Camaiore, and Marina di Pietrasanta, with some variations from the original style.

But you can find those special houses outside Viareggio, in the inner parts of Tuscany such as Lucca, Pisa, Cascina, Pistoia, Pieva a Nievole, Montecatini, just to name a few.

Want to know more about the real estate opportunities in Versilia and Lucca?

Written by Sara del Corso and Filippo Garuglieri

palms and raimbow viareggio darsena house