Pietrasanta between Mediterranean Sea and Mountains Made of Marble
Pietrasanta is nothing less than a little gem, largely unexplored by mass tourism (except for its seaside district, “frazione”, Marina di Pietrasanta).
Its main tourism is elite and cultural, being an international centre for sculpture. Pietrasanta is called “the little Athens of Versilia” due to the concentration of artists who have come to live here.
Versilia, an area of north-west Tuscany, comprises 7 communes (city councils, or “comuni”): along the coast are Viareggio, which is Versilia’s main town, Camaiore, Pietrasanta and Forte dei Marmi; inland is Massarosa; and in the mountainous parts, named “Alta Versilia”, are Seravezza and Stazzema.
Pietrasanta is considered as the “capital” of historic Versilia.
Pietrasanta is a lovely, small Medieval town less than 2 miles from the sandy beaches of Versilia Riviera with its fashionable seaside resorts: Viareggio with its famous Carnival, Forte dei Marmi, Marina di Pietrasanta, Lido di Camaiore (see map).
Marina di Pietrasanta is the part of Pietrasanta that is on the coast, and is a lively and popular seaside resort and holiday destination.
Very close to Carrara, the city which is synonymous with pure white marble, Pietrasanta lies at the foot of the magnificent, marble-rich Apuan Alps, and is a historical town where mountains and sea reach out to one another and meet.
The marble of which the Apuan mountains are composed makes them look snowcapped, and their impressive peaks stand out, emerging from the background throughout the whole region.
These mountains are a geological rarity: they are made of marble. No other part of the world can boast such an enormous concentration of this precious material.
These are among the preferred hotels and holiday lets in Pietrasanta most highly rated by guests:
Hotel Palagi in Pietrasanta 3-star elegant hotel in an excellent location between the heart of Pietrasanta ie Piazza Duomo, which you can see from the hotel, and the train station, 2 minutes’ walk from both: one of the best-rated locations in Pietrasanta. The hotel has free private parking and free WiFi. It has sun terrace, bar, family rooms, 24-hour front desk, concierge service.
Albergo Stipino in Pietrasanta 2-star hotel, good value and pleasant, on a tree-lined avenue 10-15 minutes’ walk from Piazza Duomo and the train station, and a 10-minute drive from Marina di Pietrasanta beach. With free parking, free WiFi, garden, bar, family rooms, air conditioning, refrigerator, city views.
is in a superb location a couple of minuts’ walk from both Piazza Duomo and Pietrasanta Train Station, a 10-minute drive from the sandy beaches of marina di Pietrasanta. It’s smart, with a rooftop sun terrace where breakfast can be served, free WiFi, air conditioning. Some rooms have city views. It’s near a free public parking, in a an area full of cafés, restaurants and shops. Bikes can be rented on site.
B&B Da Pio in Pietrasanta is a gorgeous villa with outdoor swimming pool, sun umbrellas, sun loungers or beach chairs, ample garden where breakfast can be served, free car park area, free Wi-Fi, family rooms, bar, bicycle rental, in lovely setting surrounded by olive groves 900 yards from the town centre, 15 minutes’ walk from Pietrasanta Station.
is in a splendid, quiet hillside location, and has period furniture and lots of style and atmosphere. With outdoor swimming pool, sun umbrellas, sun loungers, beach towels, garden, sun terrace, outdoor fireplace, picnic area, open-air bath, hot tub/jacuzzi, massage, free on-site private parking, free Wi-Fi, family rooms, breakfast in the room, it’s a place to give yourself a treat. And you can bring your pet. Tea/coffee maker is in all rooms, and the breakfast is very good. Some rooms have a sea view.
Il Duomo Luxury Suite in Pietrasanta is right in Piazza del Duomo, the very heart of Pietrasanta. It has nearby private parking, restaurant, free WiFi. Rooms and suites very comfortable, with a great number of facilities including tea/coffee maker and in some rooms and suites seating area and air conditioning.
L’Arcadia is a villa in beatiful rustic-style Tuscan architecture in the tranquil countryside 2.5 miles from Pietrasanta. It has a lovely garden and sun terrace with outdoor furniture, sun umbrellas, sun loungers, wellness facilities, free on-site private parking, free Wi-Fi, family rooms.
B&B Pieve Degli Artisti is a villa 1.2 miles from Pietrasanta Train Station, with garden, outdoor swimming pool, sun umbrellas, sun loungers, beach towels, sun terrace, massage, free on-site public parking, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning.
The Hill Fortress With Best View of Pietrasanta’s Historic Centre as Far as the Sea
An amazing fortress, going back to arounf the year 1000, guarding the city from above on the hills behind it, called Rocca di Sala aka Rocca Ghibellina, is the first, original nucleus of Pietrasanta, erected before the actual town was built, and is still in existence.
The Rocca di Sala is the best observation point for Pietrasanta’s old town and Piazza del Duomo, the cathedral square which is its heart. The view is very large and extends throughout the vast plain below as far as the sea.
You get to Rocca di Sala by a short, steep, beautiful walk up the hill among olive groves from Piazza Duomo, offering stunning views all the way.
The Rocca consists of a fortified square-shaped complex with corner towers and a central keep. From the top, above its crenelated merlons you see Pietrasanta town’s crisscrossing paved alleys creating shadows on the side walls of ancient aristocratic palaces, and you hear the sudden noise of the city’s marble and bronze workshops breaking the silence over the houses’ sunny red roofs.
Another fortress, built later, in the 1300s, is also still in existence: the exquisite Rocca (or Rocchetta) Arrighina, adjacent to the arched Porta a Pisa (the gate leading to the road to Pisa) that it was built to protect and is the only surviving one of the three gates in the city walls that permitted access to the town.
Pietrasanta had considerable prominence in Medieval times because, among other things, it was crossed by the most important road of the Middle Ages, the Via Francigena.
When Michelangelo came to Pietrasanta and saw the mountains surrounding it on one side, the Apuan Alps, he recognised Pietrasanta white marble as even better than the Carrara marble itself. Not only did Michelangelo use marble extracted from the quarries around Pietrasanta for his own sculptures but he also worked in the marble quarries and supervised and worked on the building of the road taking the marble blocks to the sea.
That is how Pietrasanta became internationally known for marble processing and attracted sculptors of all degrees of fame along with workshops. This was crowned by the opening in 1842 of the School for Marble Artwork, still active today.
Pietrasanta Historic Centre, Piazza Duomo, Art Treasures
Pietrasanta is the capital of marble working of the world, with art schools and sculpture laboratories of international reputation based in the town.
Pietrasanta has many remarkable sites to visit, artistic landmarks, monuments, palaces, churches, galleries. Its historic centre is a precious jewelry case of the Middle Ages, containing the splendid Piazza Duomo, Cathedral Square, lined by the Cathedral with its red bell tower.
Some of the beautiful buildings in the square are the Collegiata of San Martino, built in the 14th century, better known as the Duomo, with the bell tower from the same period, remained incomplete because never covered in marble. The church contains important works of art and the sacred icon of the Madonna del Sole.
A little behind is the oratory of San Giacinto, better known as the Battistero, from the 17th century.
On the same side of the square are Palazzo Moroni and the Torre delle Ore, “Tower of the Hours”, deriving its name from its clock, both from the 1500s.
On the other side is the golden facade of the Church of Sant’Agostino, built in the 1400s, with the former Agostinian convent and cloister. Also on the Cathedral Square is the Civic Tower, in Gothic style.
On the Piazza del Duomo stands the statue of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold II of Lorraine, who on 22 March 1841 raised Pietrasanta to the status of noble city (“Città Nobile”), event which this monument commemorates.