After departing from Pisa we headed towards the small coastal town called Forte Dei Marmi.
I heard a lot about this place before from some of my Russian friends. They told me that one of the fanciest local hotels here called Principe Forte Dei Marmi has been purchased by a Russian oligarch.
They say it cost him a relatively reasonable 15 million Euros. After that he had to spend a lot of efforts in the Russian media positioning Forte Dei Marmi as the second Monaco (which of course is not true).
As a result a lot of upscale Russians started spending their vacations in the area blowing cash at the local restaurants and spoiling locals with excessive tipping. Their 100,000 Euros summer villa rental budgets poured to the local owners of exclusive sea side real estate. Numerous Bentleys and Ferraris took over the local streets.
Small shops have been replaced by a wide range of high end boutiques that include Gucci, Hermes and many others. The restaurant scene has been transformed to take care of the new money flowing in by the addition of extremely trendy and overpriced venues like Twiga and Bistrot.
Consequently this quiet average class coastal resort has turned into an extremely overpriced Russia’s rich colony with unbearable service. Principe Forte Dei Marmi with its 28 rooms has become the epicenter of this new life. The hotel’s room rates range from 2000 to 5000 Euros per night during high season. It costs 200 Euros to spend a day at the beach.
This rate includes 2 sun beds, 2 deck chairs and a tent. At the same time local beaches are flooded with illegal immigrants from African countries selling fake designer bags and sun glasses. What a contrast!
What’s ridiculous is that Police is doing nothing to stop this illegal activity.
Some History of Forte Dei Marmi
Forte dei Marmi was named after the fortress that was built here in 1788 (the word Forte) and the Carrara marble (the word Marmi) that they extract in the mountains several kilometers away. Long time ago this area was used as a transit point to bring the Carrara marble from Apuan Alps to the local pier and ship it to other parts of the world by boats. This process has been initially setup by Michelangelo who handpicked marble for his own works that include the David sculpture. This marble was also used to construct many historical buildings in Italy including the Pantheon and Siena Cathedral.
Increasing Revenues of Principe Forte Dei Marmi through Paid PR
I talked with some of my Italian friends and none of them have heard much neither about this coastal area nor about Principe Forte Dei Marmi. What they told me was that they definitely wouldn’t go there for the sea. There are many much better places in Italy for swimming and other sea side activities. At the same time they advised me to visit Portofino if I wanted to plunge into the real world of luxury. Looks like all those media advertisements paid by that Russian oligarch to make Principe Forte Dei Marmi more profitable have confused a large number of wealthy Russians. By the way one of the upscale restaurants in Forte Dei Marmi called Bistrot has an extension in Moscow carrying the same name and design.
I didn’t see anything outstanding in Forte Dei Marmi. The sea looks rough and dark, the humidity level is high making it feel hotter in summer and colder in winter.
Everything ranging from the sun beds on the beach to cappuccinos at the local cafes is extremely overpriced. Now that the Russian economy is on decline and political tensions are on the rise the changes are going to happen at places like Forte Dei Marmi. Russian ruble has fallen almost by half against the Euro. This has substantially decreased the buying power of Russians travelling abroad.
In fact the number of Russians travelling outside the country has declined by almost 40% in 2015. Will this decrease the number of booked rooms at Principe Forte Dei Marmi during the upcoming high season?
From now on it will be much harder to sell overpriced food and services that just don’t worth it.