Heading to the Tuscan coast? Looking for a town with something for everyone? Here are my tips for spending a day in Cecina, one of my favorite Tuscan beach towns.
I’ve been going to Cecina at least twice a year for over 15 years with my husband. And he’s been going every summer since he was a child!
Here’s a guide to what makes Cecina special, and my favorite beaches & activities, so you can decide whether it’s the right place for you. I have tips for where to eat and drink, the best ways to get to the beach, and how to move around town. Andiamo al mare! Let’s go to the seaside!
Table of Contents
WHERE IS CECINA?
Cecina is a small city on a part of the Tuscan Coast called the Etruscan Coast. The part of Cecina right on the water is called Marina di Cecina or Cecina Mare. It’s a beach town about 43 km (50 minute drive) south of Livorno, and 58 km (55 minute drive) south of Pisa.
The pronunciation of Cecina is: CHEH-chee-nah
Listen to how to pronounce Cecina here:
Cecina, with the accent on the second syllable, is the name of a Tuscan street food made from chickpea flour. Make sure you pronounce Cecina with the accent in the right spot so Italians can tell if you’re talking about Cecina the place or Cecina the food!
WHY CECINA IS SPECIAL
- Approximately 10 km of flat, clean, sandy beaches that are easy to access
- Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve
- Expansive pine forests for natural shade
- A well-maintained waterfront promenade with cafés and restaurants
- Acqua Village Cecina water park
- Plenty of activities for kids
SHOULD I GO TO CECINA, ITALY?
Sì! Yes! If you want:
- convenience and accessibility: Cecina is flat
- clean beaches and water
- to walk or bike ride to the beach
- kid-friendly beaches and activities
- access to plenty of amenities
- to experience the Italian beach scene
- a choice of different kinds of beaches, including the Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve
Skip it if:
- you want crystal clear water: go to Giglio Island instead
- want an isolated, untouched location: even the Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve is inundated with visitors in the summer
- if you prefer sunbathing on rocky coastline (scogli) rather than on the beach
WHEN SHOULD I GO TO CECINA, ITALY?
Beaches along the Tuscan coast get extremely busy in the summer. In July and August, when Italians go on vacation for ferragosto, you can truly experience the Italian beach scene. However, a huge drawback is that the beaches and restaurants are super crowded.
To get a break from the crowds, I recommend visiting Cecina Mare in June or September. In July it’s best to go during the week.
WHERE TO GO TO THE BEACH IN CECINA
Cecina’s coastline is sandy, and water access is relatively flat, with a slight descent getting into the water. A few meters into the water, it gets about a meter deep. Depending on the tide and weather, there are usually small waves.
Cecina Mare’s beaches fly the coveted Bandiera Blu, or Blue Flag, awarded to clean beaches by the Foundation for Environmental Education. The water is clean, but not transparent.
PRIVATE BEACH FACILITIES
The Tuscan coast is largely devoted to beach clubs. At a private beach (spiaggia privata) or beach facility (spiagga attrezzata) you must pay to rent an umbrella in order to access the beach. There are bathrooms, changing rooms, and a coffee bar that usually serves sandwiches and light meals.
A private beach or beach facility is like a beach club, but you don’t have to pay to be a member all season: instead you can pay per day to rent an umbrella (ombrellone), sun lounger (lettino) and/or beach chair (sdraio).
Many Italian families have a beach club that their family has been going to for years, where they rent the same umbrella station and chat with the same people summer after summer.
Most of the beach in Cecina Mare (besides the Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve) is devoted to beach facilities. We have had good experiences at:
- Bagni Sirena: Viale della Vittoria 64
- Bagni Olimpia: Viale della Vittoria 68
- Bagni La Perla: Viale della Vittoria 72
FREE PUBLIC BEACHES
In Italy, a spiaggia libera is a free public beach. You don’t have to pay to access the beach, and you bring your own umbrella and beach chairs. Space is first come first serve. The downside is that free beaches in Italy are often not as clean or well-maintained as private beaches, and there are no bathrooms.
In Cecina Mare there are free public beaches:
At these beaches you’re still close to the main drag’s bars and restaurants, so you don’t have to go far for food and bathrooms.
Our favorite is the Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve, which has an entire 5 km stretch of free beaches. Read on right below for more about this special spot.
TOMBOLO DI CECINA NATURE RESERVE
Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve (La Riserva Naturale Tomboli di Cecina) is a special oasis along this built up section of the Tuscan coastline. Cars and motorcycles are not allowed. Locals simply call it la pineta, or the pine forest.
Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve is a 1000-acre pine forest along the coast made up of stone and maritime pines. These pines look like giant umbrellas and cover the entire park with a tall blanket of shade high in the trees.
The reserve is flat and has a wide, 5 km path that runs its entire length. The path is fantastic for walking, jogging and bike riding in the shade. There are sporadic picnic tables scattered around the park, and a water fountain at the northern entrance.
Not only that, there are 12 paths that lead through the pine forest to the beach. Even though it’s far from food and amenities, Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve is worth it to get away from the buzz of town.
Access to the nature reserve and beach is free. There are no bathrooms or dining facilities inside.
LUNGOMARE- WATERFRONT PROMENADE
Cecina’s waterfront promenade, or lungomare, stretches for over 1 km and is lined with coffee bars, restaurants and beach facilities. A large part of the promenade is closed to cars, and decorated with palm trees and fountains.
The promenade is a great place to take a passeggiata, or stroll, while eating a gelato and people watching. Or ride your bike, like the locals do.
Just one block away there is a pine forest along Viale Galliano that runs parallel to the promenade. It is a great place to get some calm and shade. There are also playgrounds, picnic benches and benches for some down time.
ACQUA VILLAGE CECINA
If you’ve had your fill of the beach, head to Acqua Village Cecina water park. It’s right in Cecina Mare, about a 15 minute walk from the beach.
Acqua Village Cecina boasts 7 water slides and 4 pools, including a wave pool. It’s well-maintained, clean, and has something for everyone, from toddlers to adults. My family and I visit every year – read my guide to Acqua Village Cecina!
WHERE TO EAT IN CECINA
In Cecina you’ll find seafood on almost all menus. Classic dishes to have at the beach are spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) and fritto misto (mixed fried seafood: usually calamari and shrimp).
Do your kids hold their noses and clamp their mouths shut at seafood? Join the club. Thankfully, Cecina has plenty of pizza, and you can almost always depend on pasta bianca at Italian restaurants.
Parents: some of Italy’s most prestigious red wines come from the nearby Bolgheri area. If you like white wine, try a Vermentino from the Tuscan coast.
WHERE TO GRAB A PICNIC MEAL
If you want to grab food to bring to the beach, or the Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve, Cecina has plenty of options:
- supermarkets (like Conad)
- alimentari (small food shops like this one) where you can get supplies and sandwiches
- pizza to go at La Capannina, at the northern end of the Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve.
Buy fresh cheese made fresh on site at Mozzarellificio Cuor di Toscana, about a 7 minute drive from the beach in San Pietro in Palazzi, on Via S. Pietro in Palazzi 27. How to choose between fresh mozzarella, burrata and stracciatella? And with truffle or without?
WHERE TO HAVE A RESTAURANT MEAL ON THE BEACH
We have two favorite waterfront restaurants with outdoor seating:
- Il Delfino is a restaurant right on the beach in a section of Cecina called Le Gorette. The ambiance is slightly more elegant than most beach spots. The owner can be a bit gruff, but don’t let that throw you off.
If you have children, you can watch them play on the beach while you enjoy a civilized meal. My husband and I like the seafood dishes, and our kids can vouch for the pizza.
- La Capannina sits at the opposite end of Cecina, right at the start of the Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve. They have a variety of seafood dishes and pizzas.
Tried and true family favorites in Cecina are:
- Ristopescheria da Mary: Viale Galliano 5, featuring home caught seafood!
- Ristorante di Andrea: Viale della Vittoria 68
- Olinto: Viale della Vittoria, 6
- Ostro: Largo Fratelli Cairoli, 7
GELATO IN CECINA
Even though Cecina is a beach town where people eat tons of gelato, we have yet to find a superb gelateria, or ice cream store, to wholeheartedly recommend. That said, you can get your fix at:
- Antichi Sapori 2000: Viale Galliano 3
- Gelateria Slap: Viale Galliano 10
- Il Gelato di Cloe: Viale della Vittoria 10
GETTING AROUND CECINA
DITCH YOUR CAR
Cecina Mare is flat and easy to get around on foot. You can’t drive up to most of the beach, and parking is a pain, so it’s best to walk or ride a bike. There are lovely promenades along the beach, and pine forest along Viale Galliano, not to mention in the Tombolo di Cecina Nature Reserve.
Our favorite way to get around Cecina Mare is by bike like the locals. There are plenty of bike racks and places to park your bike. Make sure to always lock your bike up.
RENTING A BIKE IN CECINA
If you don’t have your own bike, rent one in Cecina Mare:
- S.D.Bike: Viale della Vittoria 113
- Bike 4 Ever: Viale della Vittoria 7A
HOW TO GET TO CECINA, TUSCANY
The nearest airport is Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport (PSA), which is about 60 km away from Cecina Mare (about a 45 minute drive). There is train service from the airport to Cecina station (change at Pisa Centrale station). The closest other airports, with distances from Cecina Mare, are:
- Florence Amerigo Vespucci (FLR), 115 km
- Bologna G. Marconi (BLQ), 205 km
- Rome Fiumicino (FCO), 270 km
Cecina has direct train service from Pisa’s central station, which can take as little as 37 minutes.
To get to Cecina Mare from Cecina train station:
- take the #1 bus towards Cecina Mare (9 stops).
- walk (it is about 2 km, or 25 minutes on foot).
- take a taxi (about a 5 minute ride)
Getting to Cecina is easy by car: it’s about a 50 minute drive (43 km) south of Livorno, and a 55 minute drive (58 km) south of Pisa.
However, once you arrive I recommend using your car as little as possible. Parking is a hassle, and difficult to find in high season.