Versilia is a multi-faceted area of Tuscany. It's a region rich with history and landmarks waiting to be discovered, like its parish churches. To really appreciate and get to know them, we suggest this itinerary that can be done throughout the year by car or by motorbike.
This itinerary departs from Stazzema, an important town near the Apuan Alps. Well-known for its sacrifices during the Second World War, Stazzema also boasts a number of historic buildings such as the Church of Santa Maria Assunta (1100 CE) which you encounter as soon as you enter the centre of town. The chuch was originally a single-nave structure, but was renovated and expanded in the 1400s, when the two side naves were added and separated from the central nave by marble colonnades.
Heading off towards Pietrasanta, stay to the right after you pass the centre of Seravezza, following the directions for Vallecchia-Pietrasanta along the Aurelia Road. You'll pass the Parish Church of Santo Stefano at Vallecchia. Dating from the 12th century, it has undergone a number of restorations and renovations though it still preserves the original floor plan with three naves separated by columns with romanesque capitals and zoomorphic plinths. The interior is richly decorated with groups of marble carvings and frescoes from the 1600s.
Continue along the Aurelia Road until you arrive at Pietrasanta where you should visit the main piazza where the Church of Sant'Agostino is located—one of the most important gothic structures in the Lucchese territory. The church preserves its 14th century floor plan and is part of the Agostinian complex of the same name which was founded in the 14th century during the town's principal period of growth. Also be sure to stop by the Cathedral of San Martino. At the city's edge leave the state road taking via Valdicastello Carducci on the left and follow the indications for Valdicastello Carducci.
When you arrive at Valdicastello, take time to stop at the Parish Church of Saints Giovanni and Felicita. Isolated from the residential area of the town, the church rises up on a small hill among the olive trees, along a stretch of medieval road. This is the oldest parish church in the Versilia and its entire history can be traced in its architecture which still shows signs of the many interventions which have taken place over the centuries, especially during the gothic period when a rose window was added to the facade. The austere interior includes a number of 16th century tombs. Note the sinopia visible on the left nave which is a remnant of a pre-Romanesque fresco, and the 14th century frescoes which decorate the apse and the tabernacle to the right of the entrance. To the left of the entrance you will find a marble sarcophagus with anthropomorphic decorations.
Leaving Valdicastello, you head along the Sarzanese State Road which leads from Pietrasanta to Lucca. Go towards Camaiore where you should stop in piazza San Bernardino to see the Collegiata of Santa Maria Assunta. Outside the residential area of Camiaore, along the ancient via Francigena, you will find the Abbey of San Pietro, the only remnant of the ancient Benedectine monastery which was built here ca. 760 CE (you can still see the door of the original monastery, which today offers access to the Sacristy.) The present-day structure, however, has more recent origins. It was founded in the 12th century and restored at the end of the 19th century after earthquakes. Take time to see the tabernacle and the font of holy water inside.
From Camaiore, continue along SP 1 towards Pieve di Camaiore-Lucca: the road will begin to climb and will become increasingly winding before you arrive at Montemagno. Continue to climb until you arrive at the intersection for Gualdo – Pieve a Elici – Massarosa. Turn right here and continue for about 5km in the direction of Massarosa, passing the crossing for Gualdo until you arrive at Pieve a Elici where you should stop to visit the romanesque Parish Church of San Pantaleone. This church is linked to the evangelical missions of Saint Frediano, Bishop of Lucca at the end of the 5th and beginning of the 6th centuries CE.