Romantic break in Viareggio

by Lisa Sullivan
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In my opinion, the perfect Italian getaway combines romance and culture, with mouth-watering gourmet experiences and healthy amounts of Mediterranean sun. So when my partner surprised me with a week’s stay at the Principe di Piemonte I fell in love all over again – this time with a hotel.

Arriving in the seaside town of Viareggio we were met by glorious views of the beach, and a boardwalk lined with dozens of boutique shops, trendy bars and renowned restaurants. The Principe was built in 1922 and was fully refurbished in 2004. We took a quick tour of the five themed floors before arriving at our charming Colonial room, complete with canopy bed, mirrors and curtains framing windows that overlooked the sea.

Depositing our bags inside we nipped downstairs to the veranda bar to enjoy a fresh fruit cocktail before making the toughest decision of the entire trip – beach or pool? Although the hotel has a lovely beach club, we opted for the rooftop pool with jacuzzis, waterfalls, and stellar views.

Watching the sun set over the sea while floating in the pool was picture perfect; it felt like heaven. The spa and wellness centre is also top-class if you feel the need for a serious pampering session. You know a hotel’s doing something right when you wake up for the food as much as the location. Breakfast here is a joy with a host of options available. I enjoyed smoked salmon with cracked pepper and lemon juice from the buffet, accompanied by fresh juice, and tried to save some space for dinner.

The Michelin-starred Il Piccolo Principe restaurant has a menu that changes throughout the year. We started with courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta and marjoram with parmesan biscuits, followed by an ornately decorated carpaccio with raw Chianina beef, a light touch of salad sprouts and mayonnaise with citrus fruits.

After that came a sumptuous pasta dish combining rabbit, mushrooms and pecorino cheese sauce with olives and Garganelli pasta. Trailing this was a delicious lamb confit, sumptuously swathed in cocoa beans, spring onions and a sweet and sour sauce. Dessert (which we somehow had room for) was an exotic coconut milk soup that chef Giuseppe Mancino should rightfully be proud of, with a pistachio parfait and delicately caramelised pineapple on the side.

From the menu
  • Caprese salad of lobster, eggplant, buffalo mozzarella and fresh tomatoes
  • Sea bass, seafood gratin, and chervil sauce with octopus
  • Calamarata pasta from Gragnano, served with green asparagus and shellfish
  • Salt cod, warm gazpacho sauce, beans and fresh onions
  • Tempura of crustaceans and seasonal vegetables
  • Courgette flower filled with ricotta and marjoram, served with cream of lettuce and parmesan biscuits
  • Il Piccolo Principe fine dining restaurant boasts a Michelin star.
  • The Region Restaurant offers traditional cuisine with fine wines in the ground floor dining room or on the veranda overlooking the sea.
  • Private dinners as well as wine tasting sessions are available in the Wine Cellar Bar, serving teas, coffees, cocktails and appetisers, with live music. The Wine Cellar Bar offers 400 prestigious wines, many from Tuscany
  • With the hotel’s proximity to the beach and the pine forests of Viareggio, guests can enjoy watersports, swimming and nature walks
  • Fitness centre and spa facilities, sauna, steam bath and jacuzzis, and an outdoor pool on the roof

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