Pietrasanta is long famous for attracting artists and inspiring masterpieces. Just one footstep into the cobbled streets of this gem of a town and you feel the wave of creative energy seeping from every stone. With famous artists such as Fernando Botero and Igor Mitoraj choosing to spend their lives creating and living here, the long list of reasons why artists adore Pietrasanta is clear. From specialized workshops, a vast wealth of materials available for sculpture, as well as the rich artistic heritage, it is certainly the ideal place to set up your easel, and let your imagination soar. Located in the area of Versilia, just 3 kilometres from the coast and at the end of the Apuan Alps, Pietrasanta is known as “little Athens” and boasts a cultural scene that is bound to leave you feeling content and inspired.
The intriguing history of Pietrasanta is worth knowing in order to enhance your experience of wandering the timeworn cobbles. The town owes its name to Guiscardo Pietrasanta, mayor of the Republic of Lucca, who founded the town in 1255 at the foot of the Lombard fortress in the pre-existing village called Rocca di Sala. The momentous occasion marked the end of the feudal period with the explusion of the Lords of Corvaia and Vallecchia, and the beginning of municipal power.
This initiated a long-standing conflict between Pisa and Lucca, both keen to take possession of the territory enriched by the port of Motrone and the passage of the via Francigena. There were also rich mineral resources of iron and silver making it a much sought after prize. Further contention makes up Pietrasanta’s myriad past, with Pisa, Genoa and Florence jostling for ownership up until 1513 when the city and surroundings ultimately became the dominion of the State of Florence and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until the unification of Italy in 1861.
Many artists choose to spend their lives crafting in this inspiring landscape. Its proud long-standing tradition of cultural creativity can be experienced by visiting the numerous workshops of highly-skilled marble workers with which the village is intricately linked given its close access to rich sources of the sought after material. Galleries, art exhibitions and artistic events are never in short supply. Michelangelo himself was inspired to visit Versilia when in search of marble for his own works. From the houses to the cathedral, evidence of marble’s importance in the town is everywhere.
You’ve seen the sites but now perhaps you are looking for something a little more active. There is certainly no shortage of things to do in Pietrasanta. Peppered with tiny art galleries, workshops and fashion boutiques, shopping here is sure not to disappoint and will have you bringing home many unique treasures.
Feeling like getting your heartbeat up and taking some exercise? The via Francigena passes nearby for a walk along some of the historic route. Climb to the historic fortress of Sala for a view of incredible beauty and to explore the significant spot. Nestled between the sea and mountains, whichever direction you turn you’re sure to encounter wondrous scenery. Visit the parks of the Versilia for a stroll through spectacular surroundings with acres upon acres of centuries-old trees and the keen eyed among you can spot flora and fauna of rare and impressive breeds.
Luring a huge number of visitors every year, an absolute annual highlight is La Versiliana Festival. Drawing celebrities from the worlds of entertainment, politics, sport and publishing, there are concerts and performances you’ll never forget amongst the stunning scenery of Parco della Versiliana in Marina di Pietrasanta. Imagine yourself breezy and carefree in one of the dream-like summer evenings with the music of top-class performers and the sweet scents of seasonal flowers wafting as you enjoy a drink surrounded on all sides by centuries of culture and ambience.