Sapore di Sale
Versilia and its protagonists’ stories
Five personalities from Versilia tell us about this part of Tuscany. With diverse interests and ages but a common trait: their talk isn’t wistful but vibrant, energetic.
Gherardo Guidi, owner of La Capannina
The oldest night club in the world. Its name has never changed and you’ve run it since the swinging Seventies. A short list of the most unforgettable events?
There have been many. I’ll mention just one. The club’s 50th anniversary. The entire cast of Il Bagaglino was invited. A truly special event.
The most fascinating personality who’s been at your club?
I’ve never forgotten Grace Jones, Kid Creole and The Coconuts and Spandau Ballet. Then Count Zucchini dei Gonzaga. A very elegant and unique person. And the big socialites, like Gigi Rizzi.
We recently heard that you’re running La Bussola again, relaunching it in your style.
I’m always looking for new stimuli. It’s my character. And I wanted to keep the La Bussola team together, They’ve worked for me for years. We gave it a complete overhaul, new energy. Now it looks like a night club in New York or Miami. To distinguish it from La Capannina the summer events calendar will revolve around the great international DJs.
What are your life and ideal day like here now?
I’ve been living here during the winter for a few years too. During nice weather, I put on my sneakers and walk on the beach. After lunch I go to the office to work with my team. You know, I’m still a waltz enthusiast.
I won’t ask where you have your aperitif. But what do you order at sunset?
I never drink alcohol. Haven’t since I was a teenager. How else could I have gotten to my age doing what I do?!
So, which dish says your Versilia?
The soufflé served at La Capannina!
Your book on your amazing human and entrepreneurial adventure will soon be out. What can you share with us?
We’ll soon be presenting it. The title is Gherardo Guidi, come ha sedotto la notte. But my greatest success continues to be my love for my wife Carla. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her!
Massimo Fiacchini, owner of the Boutique Fiacchini
Tell us about your first shop in Forte dei Marmi?
My parents opened it in 1971 on Forte’s legendary Via Carducci. Now we have six shops in town.
Is there a particularly glamorous summer you remember?
All summers are glamorous here. We often see trends here that appear elsewhere the following year, and some that remain specific to Forte.
What’s this summer’s wardrobe staple?
Any garment from the Vetements collection or designed by Tom Ford. Other musts are the Saint Laurent college bag and the Fontana Milano bags. We’re their exclusive retailers in Italy.
What dish most represents Versilia?
Spaghetti with arselle of course! I especially like the ones cooked by Carmela at Bagno Annetta. But Marco at Osteria del Mare cooks them superbly too.
And Versilia in a song?
When I cycle around town the song Sapore di Sale runs through my mind.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I jog on the wharf, sail my boat then I’m on the beach the rest of the day at Bagno San Francesco or Bagno Costanza. Sometimes I lunch at Bagno Gilda.
Where’s your favorite place for an aperitif?
At Bar Principe downtown, where I have an Aperol with soda. Or the terrace of our main store on Via IV Novembre.
What about a special dinner?
At Lorenzo’s, where Gioacchino cooks simple yet perfect dishes for me every Sunday evening.
Where would you spend the evening if you were 20 and what would you wear?
At La Capannina. It’s an evergreen. I’d go wearing a silk F.r.s. pajama by Francesca Ruffini.
Gianni Mercatali, communication “worker”
An indelible memory of the 1960s when Versilia was like Ibiza.
The ploys to get into La Bussola to see Celentano or Mina!
Has it changed much?
Certainly over the past fifty years. Half a century will bring changes to any place. But its soul is still intact.
What’s your life like here today?
I’ve been going to the same beach facility at Forte, Bagno Silvio, since 1954, when I was 7. Then the usual rituals typical of Versilia.
How do you spend your afternoons?
For the past few years now I’ve enjoyed my role as a granddad, taking my granddaughters to the piazzetta to ride ponies. Then at 18:30 I’m at La Versiliana cafe.
Your favorite dish?
Spaghetti with arselle, made strictly with local arselle.
The best place for breakfast?
Where do you take special guests for dinner?
At Forte to Lorenzo and at Pietrasanta to the Enoteca Marcucci or to Filippo.
But before dinner, aperitifs to La Capannina or the scenic terrace at Lux Lucis in Hotel Principe in Forte.
Where would you recommend a 30-year-old go for a night out?
Yesterday like today, no doubt to La Capannina.
And where do you go with friends?
I enjoy being with my grandchildren after dinner too. My day ends around midnight.
Fiammetta Vanelli, entrepreneur
A dish which sums up Versilia.
Fresh fish served at the Pesce Baracca, an international restaurant opened two years ago near Forte’s wharf. International with some street-food specialties.
A song that represents Versilia?
The music events featuring Bob Sinclair, which I’d go to even when I was seven-months pregnant.
A typical day of your vacation in Versilia?
Breakfast at Il Giardino then to the beach, Bagno Giovanni, where I went as a child and now go with my son.
Where do you like having your aperitif when at Forte?
At Nikki Beach. My brother Gualtiero is a partner, but it’s also a special place: great cocktails served poolside with sushi samplings and international music.
Where to for a special dinner?
At Maitò, our old family restaurant. A slice of their pizza domatore to start and the traditional dish penne maitò. There I get to see two of my favorite friends, Federico and Isabella Francese, the current owners.
Shopping: where do you go at Forte and at Pietrasanta?
At Forte I’ll shop at Dada. My friend Isabella owns this shop too. Their clothes are never boring and the brands are interesting. In Pietrasanta, at Zoe.
Lorenzo Viani, owner of the Ristorante Lorenzo
When did you open your restaurant?
In 1981. It has gone from being a well-known trattoria to being listed among the top restaurants in all the guides.
An unforgettable evening?
There have been many, with customers and friends. Every evening brings new emotions.
Which dish would you recommend to someone coming to your restaurant for the first time?
There are dishes that we’ve always served, like bavette sul pesce and natura di calamaretti in forno. But our top priority is prime ingredients. They must always be super fresh and perfect. Every day I shop for fresh ingredients and select them with the utmost care.
Versilia and a dish from your memories.
Simply a plate of cée alla salvia (white bait with sage), a forbidden dish nowadays.
Versilia in a work by your illustrious ancestor.
My great uncle Lorenzo Viani, one of the most vibrant artists of the Italian Novecento, depicted unknown aspects of Versilia, where the sea gives but also takes, such as in I Vageri. The faces in that painting express the tragic fate of those condemned to waiting:
“Far docks, bleak as worm-eaten foliage, dense with masts, yardarm-riven in signs of pain; on gratings, wary as old dogs, only guardians in rough tarred cloaks remain”. (Lorenzo Viani, Dwarf and Black Statue’s Blessing of those Dead at Sea)
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Time and weather permitting, I like going out in my boat, Il Gombo, cooking fish caught with nets or mussels harvested from the sea rocks near the San Rossore nature reserve.
A place to visit which speaks of the ancient soul of these lands?
The beaches, their typical dunes, fragrance of undergrowth and pine wood, “eastward, the Apuan Alps, almost huge amphitheatres, the other, amid turquoise clouds, sea waves.” (Gabriele D’Annunzio)