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Viareggio, Italy

The seaside resort of Viareggio lies between the Tyrhennian Sea and the marble cliffs of the Massa Carrara in northern Tuscany. Located in low-lying, marshy ground, the town was founded as a port for walled Lucca and named for the Via Regia road that ran between the two. In the 19th century, a drainage system enabled canals to dry out the ground, and the city blossomed as a resort for royalty and the wealthy, who built the handsome villas that dot the town today. Strolling the waterfront Passeggiata lined with fanciful Liberty-styled facades and cafes, restaurants and shops, it’s possible to imagine encountering Giacomo Puccini pondering a phrase of his latest opera over a morning cappuccino. Visit the Cittadella and Carnival Museum to investigate the town’s other claim to fame, the elaborate and fantastic floats and costumes that illuminate its famous Carnevale parades. The square Torre Matilde is the town’s oldest building, towering over the small boats in the Burlamacca canal to ward off invading corsairs.