Forte dei Marmi, gem on the Tuscan coast
My favourite place for august (besides my atelier of course) is a small town on the coast of Tuscany that feels more like a cosy version of Palm Springs than a not too distant neighbor of Florence. The streets are organized along a tight grid and houses large and small hide behind thick hedges and ornate fences. In some areas clusters of palms punctuate perfectly manicured lawns but, as this is Tuscany, proud cypresses fill the sky and scent the air. The architecture is a mix of country houses that were absorbed by the town, stately symmetrical mansions and sleek modernist villas with wrap around terraces and angular roofs. Bicycles are the preferred mode of transport, and ladies in gauzy dresses and beaded sandals pedal to the market in the morning and then head off to the beach to take their positions at one of the many numerous beach clubs.
Despite its size, the little town offers all shopping the luxury traveller needs: numerous fruit and vegetable stands, butchers, "alimentari," bakery and either a tobacco shop, newsstand, hair salon or pharmacy and furthermore, all glamorous brands of the Italian fashion world.
Back on the beach, the clubs are groomed, raked and trimmed with the type of love that only comes from family-owned businesses. Actually most of the clubs have been run by the same families for decades. The best clubs are run with such an attention to detail (perfectly painted cabanas, attentive life guards, seamless bar service and color coordinated beach furniture) that it looks like straight from Wallpaper magazine.
I've spent many summers with friends and the family at Forte dei Marmi -
as weeks of sun, cycling and unharried living.
And I enjoy a simplicity and quality of life that simply doesn't exist anywhere else. Life here is lived on a very human scale and it's very basic things like good produce, helpful shop assistants, no need for cars and an almost Swiss sense of order that's perhaps so appealing.