According to historians, Pietrasanta is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Tuscany. Its massive walls, its many forts and castles—nestled against the backdrop of the Apuan Alps—bare witness to the history of ancient Versilia. A considerable portion of the town’s walls can still be seen on the way up to the fort, while a few remains are preserved inside private courtyards. Next to the ‘Porta a Pisa’, one of the three town gates, you’ll find the Florentine ‘Rocchetta’ fortress, also known as ‘Arrighina’. The Rocca di Sala, on the other hand, overlooks the centre of the town, while the Salto della Cervia tower stands just a few kilometres away.
Once a colony of Lucca, probably founded in the XII century, Pietrasanta grew to become, in the XIII century, the region’s sole political centre. Castruccio Castracani promoted the town’s fortification, renovating the ancient Rocca di Sala fortress. In 1324, he built the Rocchetta, dedicating it to his son Arrigo. During the XV century, Lucca defended its Versilia holdings against Florentine interference by joining forces with Genova and supporting the King of France, Charles VIII. At the end of the century, however, the war between Florence and Sarzana brought Pietrasanta and the whole of central Versilia under the control of the Medici. The Florentines fortified the town, whose walls and towers had been badly damaged during the war. Castracani’s Rocchetta had been completely destroyed—thus, it was rebuilt, retaining its original name ‘Arrighina’, as it is called to this day.
In the middle of the XVIII century, the Rocchetta, that had by then lost all military significance, was deprived of all its ammunition. Said ammunition was instead transferred to the Torre del Salto della Cervia and Cinquale. In 1779, Leopoldo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, sold the Rocca di Sala to Andrea and Giovanni di Dio Luccetti of Pietrasanta for 950 scudi.
State of conservation:
Rocca di Sala: the village walls leading to the fort are currently undergoing repair. Palazzo Guinigi underwent a series of changes and today, only a small decaying portion of it remains.
Rocchetta ‘Arrighina’: It is now private property. Since the beginning of the XIX century, it has undergone drastic changes. Part of a factory was built next to it and new windows were opened on the ground floor, where public lavatories were housed. The Rocchetta is now in poor condition and badly needs repair in order to recover it’s the grandeur of its late XV-century character.
Getting there: Pietrasanta lies on the SS1 Aurelia, half-way between Viareggio and Massa. It can also be reached via the A12, Versilia exit. It has a good railway (Firenze/Pisa-Roma/La Spezia-Genova) and bus connections (Lazzi: departures to Firenze, Viareggio, Massa, La Spezia, etc.).