Pietrasanta, a town in Tuscany near the famous marble quarries of Carrara, is known for its marble sculptures and artist studios. Founded in the 13th century as one of Tuscany’s ideal cities, the historic center has 5 main streets running parallel to each other with a large square at one end, making it an easy place to walk. Only 1 of the 3 medieval town gates remain, Porta a Pisa, and next to it is the pretty Rocchetta Arrighina, originally built in 1300 but remodeled in the late 15th century. Perched above the town is a fortress, Rocca di Sala.
What to See in PIetrasanta
Entering town through Porta a Pisa, visitors arrive in the large Piazza del Duomo, the main square. Grab a seat at one of the bars on the square for a coffee or apertivo and take in the sights. Special art exhibits are often set up on the square, such as the display of bronzes based on Salvador Dali paintings when we visited in November 2016.
The Duomo di San Martino, the town’s cathedral, was built in the 14th century over the 13th century church that was constructed shortly after Pietrasanta was founded. It has undergone several changes throughout the years and the current interior is primarily 17th century in style although the frescoes in the nave are from the 19th century. As you would expect, it has a marble facade. Next to the cathedral, the bell tower is made of brick.
At the far end of the square is the interesting Bozzetti Sculpture Museum, in the complex of San Agostino Church and Convent. In the museum are sketches and models of sculptures made by more than 300 artists, both Italian and foreign, who have worked at Pietrasanta. San Agostino Church is Romanesque in style and is now used for art exhibits. In the convent’s cloister, parts of the original frescoes are visible on the walls.
Sculptures created in the 20th – 21st centuries are exhibited around town and in nearby villages making an open-air museum. You’ll see them in squares and gardens or along the road as you walk through town or drive in the area.
There are several open sculpture studios both in town and on the outskirts where you can see art works being created. Artists from other art mediums, such as mosaics, also have studios in Pietrasanta.
Housed in the 16th century Palazzo Moroni on the main square is the Bruno Antonucci Archaeological Museum of Versilia, with plans to open to the public soon (currently open only by appointment). Prehistoric, Etruscan, and Medieval artifacts as well as Renaissance ceramics are on display.
Outside the historic center is the Church and Convent of Saint Francis, dating from the 16th – 17th century. Inside are paintings and marble decor from the 17th – 18th centuries and in the loggia are from 1832-33.
Remains of the castle, as well as views of town, can be seen with a short walk up the hill. A bike path leads to the sea at Marina di Pietrasanta where there are beaches.
Along the walking streets, as well as outside the center, are shops and restaurants. We enjoyed a great lunch at Osteria Tecchia, just outside the center on Via Garibaldi.
Where to Stay
While Pietrasanta can easily be visited as a day trip, it makes a great base for those who prefer to stay in a small town or enjoy sculpture and there are plenty of places to eat. It’s on the rail line between La Spezia and Pisa and the train station is within a 5 minute walk of Porta a Pisa. Arriving by car, there is a large, free parking lot a short walk from the center.
- Albergo Pietrasanta is housed in a renovated 17th century building with a garden and art collection, a short walk from the main square and 500 meters from the train station.
- Hotel Palazzo Guiscardo, Pietrasanta has 10 rooms and suites with unique themes, in an Art Nouveau building a short walk from the center.
- Art Hotel Pietrasanta is a family-run hotel on a quiet street near the free parking lot, a short walk from the center.
Where to Go Near Pietrasanta
Carrara, the marble city, and its marble quarries are about 20 miles away.
Pisa and Lucca are each a little over 20 miles from Pietrasanta and can be reached by train.
Viareggio, known for its Liberty Style decor, beaches, and nightlife is even closer and also on the rail line. Several beaches are within a few miles, including Forte dei Marmi, one of the top beaches on the Versilia Coast of Tuscany.
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