Versilia in the footsteps of the Medici

From Pietrasanta to Seravezza and Stazzema, the Florentine family left its mark

The proposed itinerary brings together environmental delights and a historical walk through the significant commercial and cultural development created during the Medici domination in Seravezza, Pietrasanta and Stazzema. In particular, we will cover a large area that runs from Pietrasanta to Seravezza then runs through beautiful woods and green valleys in the foothills of the Apuan Alps and then to Stazzema.

The areas is historically important due to its strategic position, Versilia changed its borders a number of times throughout history, which were each time redefined on the basis of the different rulers. It is to this that we ow the historical diatribe, “the two Versilias”, the historic one and the one dominated by the river's path. Historically, one of the most significant moments of this walk through the past, coincides with the birth of the Medici Enclave built in 1513 came into being thanks to Pope Leo X, Giovanni Medici, son of Lorenzo il Magnifico. They marked the beginning of one of the most favorable economic periods in the area.

The Medici were an ancient Florentine family who made their fortune on trade with the East around the year 1340 and became one of the most powerful families in Italy. They branched out into the textile and banking business. During the reign of Lorenzo il Magnifico, Seravezza, Pietrasanta and Stazzema became part of the Medici state.

This way, under the illustrious influence of the family, the areas including Pietrasanta, Forte dei Marmi, Seravezza and Stazzema become culturally and economically united thanks to the marble business and the Medici coat of arms. Pietrasanta particularly benefited from the Medici and its territory included nearby Forte dei Marmi until 1914. Singled out for its military importance, the city was part of a mountain lookout program while at the same time developing into a manufacturing center for marble. Michelangelo came to the city to choose the marble for the facade of San Lorenzo in Florence.

Other important artists visited the city for the same reason, including Lorenzo and Stagio Stagi and Agnolo Bronzino who left important works behind, like the church of San Martino. During the same time period, various works were built in the city including the Torre delle Ore, the 'bell-tower' of the Monastero di S.Leone, dedicated to Leo X, and demolished in the 1950s, some ruins of the convent of Sant'Agostino, the Marzocco fountain and the Colonna della Libertà.

From Pietrasanta we go towards Seravezza, following the backroad called Vallecchia to then take the Sp 9 uphill for 7km. Seravezza is an ancient city dating back to the year 1,000. Its history is varied and has been long associated with iron and marble mining. Today it is an important part of the Parco Regionale delle Apuane.
The extraction of marble dates back to 1550 when the Medici built the road leading to Mount Altissimo. Don't miss a visit to the Medici Palace, built by Cosimo I in order to better monitor the marble extraction. According to recent studies, the palace, which was originally attributed to Bartolomeo Ammannati was likely designed by Bernardo Buontalenti. In the past the palace has been used as a jail and city hall, but is now the city library and a local history museum.

The Duomo belongs to the same time period; inside houses a baptismal font by Stagio Stagi and a richly decorated altar of multicolored marble and silver crucifix by Pollaiolo. In nearby Azzano, we find a chapel dedicated to San Martino decorated entirely in marble. Between 1518 and 1536 the church was embellished with a portico by Michelangelo (unfortunately destroyed in World War II) and a rosone called “Michelangelo's eye”.

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Golden beaches, little towns and nature parks worth discovering, a mild climate and nightlife brimming with performances and entertainment: this is Versilia. ...
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