Pietrasanta, an Italian Town of Classic and Contemporary Arts

Pietrasanta lies a few kilometres away from Forte dei Marmi, the Ligurian beach area. It has its origins in the Middle Ages and was founded in 1255 by Guiscardo da Pietrasanta, the leader of Lucca and was the ancient capital of the Medici headquarters in Versilia.  Over the centuries it has become a town with more than 20,000 inhabitants.

Piazza Duomo, Pietrasanta
Piazza Duomo, Pietrasanta

During the planning of our summer trip to Tuscany, we could not find enough information about Pietrasanta.  Therefore, we did not consider visiting the place.  On the way back from our day trip to Lucca, we were looking for a place to have dinner.  According to the Google Map, the bigger town on the way is Pietrasanta which has plenty of Italian restaurants.  So we stopped at Pietrasanta for dinner.  But the moment we entered into the old historical town, we were totally distracted by the artworks, public piazzas, churches and cozy evening atmosphere around the elegant historical town centre.

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The Cathedral of San Martino

In the center of Pietrasanta is the Cathedral of San Martino overlooking the beautiful Piazza Duomo. The Cathedral dates back to the 14th century. Besides, the great rose window in the marble façade stands out, which is a distinguished 15th-century work by Lorenzo Riccomanni from Pietrasanta.

The Catherdral of San Martino
The Catherdral of San Martino

The Bell Tower

In contrast to the Cathedral of San Martino, the 36 m-tall Bell Tower has a simple brickwork appearance, but originally it was also to be covered with marble plates. Inside of it is a helical staircase.

The Bell Tower next to the Cathedral of San Martino
The Bell Tower next to the Cathedral of San Martino

Sant’Agostino

Sant’Agostino used to be a church. It is now used for art exhibitions and other cultural events. The church has a single nave with an awkward entrance. It has three rounded arches delimited by pilasters. The pilasters uphold twelve walled up arches. The bell-tower next to it was not added until 1780.  Inside the church, there is a single nave vaunting three large marble arches.

Three large marble arches inside of Sant'Agostino, Pietrasanta
Three large marble arches inside of Sant’Agostino, Pietrasanta

Baptistery of Pietrasanta

Baptistery of Pietrasanta, also known as Oratory of San Giacinto, is definitely a piece of art.  Built in the 17th century, it has the only altarpiece which remains from that period. The balustrade and the holy water stoves from the 18th century are also of interest. The entire complex of interior decorations which restored in 1988 and 2011, including frescoes, medallions, and various sculptures, is beautiful.

Palazzo Moroni

Right next to the Cathedral of San Martino is the Palazzo Moroni.  There is a building with a double staircase in front of the main façade. The building was originated from two houses in the 17th century, the House of Augustinian Fathers and the house of a notary. Now it hosts the Archaeological Museum (Bruno Antonucci)  and the Municipal Historical Archives.

Palazzo Moroni
Palazzo Moroni

City Hall and City Tower

The City Hall of Pietrasanta is in Piazza Matteotti 29, just outside the historic centre of the town, Piazza Duomo.  The City Tower was built around 1530 and its current appearance dated back in 1860. And, the City Tower is located in the middle of two buildings, with an adjoining bar and a cafeteria.

Bars and restaurants

Our stomach started rumbling. Before exploring further we decided to eat first. Many Italians arrived in decent dresses and flooded into eateries. We felt somewhat embarrassed because we did not change any clothes after our day trip to Lucca. We looked weary and hungry. Some tourists had the same situation. Nevertheless, all waiters smiled at us warmly when we approached their restaurants.

There are too many high-class Italian restaurants and bars to keep everyone happy. All restaurants have outdoor settings, very colorful and tempting. Based on the names of each eatery we were able to select a restaurant offering mainly kinds of seafood.  We ordered some Italian dishes seafood pasta, seafood starters, and Tuna steaks.  Although the food was freshly made, we had nearly zero waiting time for the food. The quality and the quantity of the food is top.

Related post: A Guide to the Types of Italian Restaurants – Where and What to Eat

Restaurant is ready for the evening business
Restaurant is ready for the evening business
Evening scene of a restaurant street, Pietrasanta
Evening scene of a restaurant street, Pietrasanta

Streets of art galleries and boutiques

After our dinner, we took another walk in the town. Having admired churches and piazzas, we opted for some side streets. This turned out to be another surprise because we discovered another major feature of the town.

The centre part of streets Via G. Garibaldi and Via Stagio Stagi is dotted with many fine arts galleries and boutiques. They are classic and contemporary art galleries, craft studios such as a workshop for hand-made shoes, boutiques for interior designs and wine bars, etc. Most open till late evening so that people can still visit them after their long dinners.

Along the two streets, there many seating places laying on the ground next to every shop. Everyone can use them for a rest. Locals like to sit there and chat with each other till late at night. By all means, one can spend a couple of hours roaming around the streets.

A gallery for home design
A gallery for home design
Street lined with boutiques in Pietrasanta, Liguria
Street lined with boutiques in Pietrasanta, Liguria
Public sitting places outside of shops
Public sitting places outside of shops

Other things to do

Other sites are of interest:

  • Bozzetti Museum, an interesting museum dedicated to marble sculpture. It is located at Via Sant’Agostino c/o Centro Culturale Luigi Russo, 55045, Pietrasanta
  • Church of St. Abate or Mercy, which is located at Via Giuseppe Mazzini, 55045 Pietrasanta
  • Chiesa di Sant’Antonio Abate, a church which is frequent by locals. It is located at Via Giuseppe Mazzini N. 103, 55045 Pietrasanta
  • Sketches Museum Pierluigi Gherardi, which is located at Via Sant’Agostino 1, 55045 Pietrasanta

In fact, Pietrasanta is the perfect destination for art enthusiasts, both classic and contemporary. Over the centuries, it has been an important centre of marble extraction and working. It is also a well-known gathering place for artists from all over the world.  Over the years, many artists have decided to settle down here. In recent years, Pietrasanta has become an open-air museum, where visitors can admire sculptures and art pieces among streets and piazzas.

A piece of art creation on the public street, Pietrasanta
A piece of art creation on the public street, Pietrasanta

Where to stay

As a cultural tourism destination, Pietrasanta is a great home base for exploring the Cinque Terre of Liguria, Portovenere and other Tuscany destinations. There are many good hotels in this area at reasonable prices.  In the summer holiday season hotels along the Ligurian coast are very expensive. If you don’t want to plan your holiday only for beaches, you could probably consider to stay in this town.

Bonnes Vacances a Pietrasanta is just in the centre of Pietrasanta and offers a terrace. Featuring a Blu-ray player, the apartment has a kitchen with a dishwasher, a fridge, and an oven. A bicycle rental service is available at the apartment. Pisa is 47 km away, while Lucca is 34 km away. The nearest airport is Pisa International, 45 km from the accommodation, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.

You can compare the offers at booking.com or hotelscombined.com.

Bonnes Vacances a Pietrasanta, Italy (source)

How to get there

By car

The best way to go there is by car. You can find many offers from different merchants at rentalcar.com.

  • If you arrive from Florence, take A11 and then A12, exit at Versilia.
  • If you arrive from Milan, take A1 heading south to Parma, and then take A15 to La Spezia. Exit at Versilia tool booth.
  • But if you arrive from Genoa, take A12 in the south direction and exit at Versilia toll booth.
  • If you arrive from Rome, take A1 to Florence and then take A11 to Viareggio. Finally,ke A12 in the north direction up to the Versilia exit.

By train

Pietrasanta is well connected to other Italian cities.  You can book tickets online.

By bus

There are buses to and from other Tuscan cities. The website Compagnia Toscana Trasporti for offers the bus schedules but it is in the Italian language.

By plane

The closest airport is the Pisa’s Galileo Galilei Airport, which is 45 km away.

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