Around 1820 Paolina Bonaparte Borghese had a villa built in front of the sea in Viareggio (Via Macchiavelli, 2).
Nowadays the building is called Villa Paolina and it hosts civic museums of Viareggio.
The Beneficial effects of sea water
Since the middle of the 7th century, the beneficial effects of thalassic therapy1 have been studied by some English doctors suggesting that bathing in the sea and breathing in the sea air was therapeutic.
A view of Villa Paolina from Piazza Percy Bysshe Shelley, Viareggio
A few years later, were made - among the first in Italy - two wooden square shaped facilities built on wooden stilts implanted in the sea. They contained small changing rooms, toilets and stairs leading directly down into the sea water.
One building was for men and the other for women. They were a sort of small islands for marine therapy but were not yet considered places of leisure and amusement.
On 29th June 1822 the grand-ducal government issued the first official document in Italy relating to those who bathe in the sea in the open air named "Regulations as to facilities and conditions of sea water bathing".
The entrance of Villa Paolina, Viareggio
During this historical period along the Viareggio seafront two of the first establishments were opened where children with pulmonary tuberculosis were cared for: the Ospizio Marino di Lucca and the Ospizio Marino di Firenze
The backyard of Villa Paolina
- Photos, main text and page layout by Caterina Traversi ti.orebil|isrevartaniretac#| and Eugenio Giannarelli ti.oiligriv|illerannaigoinegue#| (December 2016).
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- Francesco Carnevale and Esther Diana, Giuseppe Barellai. Il dovere del medico, la situazione sanitaria dell'Ottocento e le nuove realtà epidemiologiche, Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze, 2014, pp. 243.