Pietrasanta is a historic medieval town in northern Tuscany. It's sometimes called the City of the Artists or Small Athens for its marble studios and monuments. The town has Roman origins, but the modern town is named after Guiscardo da Pietrasanta who founded the town in the mid-thirteenth century.
Pietrasanta was and still is an important center for marble quarrying. Marble from the region first gained fame when it was used by Michelangelo for some of his most famous works. Several international artists live or work here and there are art galleries and frequent exhibits, as well as stone-carving studios and bronze art foundries. The Bozzetti Museum is a very important museum of sculpture and sketches (see sights below).
Pietrasanta Sights and Attractions
- Piazza del Duomo is the large main square. Here you'll find cafes, people-watching, art exhibits, the town's principal buildings, and of course the Duomo.
- The Duomo, Church of S.Martino, dominates the square. It was built in the fourteenth century but has been remodeled several times. The exterior is covered with marble and inside are murals by Aldemollo and other important works of art.
- Palazzo Pretorio, housing the town offices and town theater, was acquired by the comune in the fourteenth century and has been remodeled several times. From the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries, it was center of the Vicar and the Captain of Justice and coats of arms can be seen on the marble facade.
- The Bruno Antonucci Archaeology Museum is inside the 16th century Palazzo Moroni on Piazza del Duomo. Exhibits range from prehistoric and Etruscan to medieval and Renaissance objects.
- The Tour of the Hours, Torre delle Ore (clock tower), was first constructed in the 1500s, but its current look dates from 1860.
- Bozzetti Sculpture Museum shows sketches, models and drawings of sculptures carried out by hundreds of Italian and foreign artists who worked at Pietrasanta, such as Botero, Cascella, Theimer, Folon, Mitoraj, Yasuda, Pomodoro, and Tommasi. It's in the St. Agostino complex.
- St. Agostino's Church and Convent is a complex originating in the fourteenth century. The church is Romanesque and has a marble facade. Inside are many important paintings and frescoes and a restored wooden choir in the apse. It also hosts frequent art exhibits. The courtyard of the cloister is surrounded by marble columns and part of the frescoes that once adorned the walls are still visible. Today it houses the Center Cultural Luigi Russo, library, Museum of Sketches, and Bozzetti Sculpture Museum.
- Rocchetta Arrighina, Porta a Pisa is the only survivor of the three ancient town gates. Originally built in the fourteenth century, it had a 17th-century fresco of the Annunciazione which is now near the town hall.
- The Church of San Antonio Abate, documented since the fourteenth century, has ancient wooden statues and contemporary frescoes.
- Rocca di Sala and Guinigi Palace sit on a hill behind the city center. The fortress was reconstructed in the fourteenth century and the small residential palace was built by Paul Giunigi in the fifteenth century.
Shopping and Markets
Thursday is market day in Pietrasanta. There's an antique market the first Sunday of the month and a crafts market the second Sunday of the month. There are several shops that sell handicrafts, marble items, and artworks. San Biagio day is celebrated with a fair in early February.
Pietrasanta Location and Transportation
Pietrasanta is in northern Tuscany in a nice position below the Apuan Alps, famous for their marble quarries. It's in the Versilia coastal area, about 3 kilometers from the sea. Pietrasanta is 20 km from both Viareggio (on the coast) and Carrara to the north and 35 km from Pisa to the south. See Tuscany rail map.
Pietrasanta is on the Rome - Genoa train line and has a station right in town. It is also easily reached by bus from principal towns of Tuscany and nearby smaller towns. Arriving by car, it's just off the A12 Genova - Livorno autostrada and there's a parking lot by the train station, just outside the center. The closest airport is Pisa.
Where to Stay in Pietrasanta
Hotel Palazzo Guiscardo is a highly-rated 4-star hotel near the cathedral that offers use of a private beach on the coast. There are also hotels in nearby Marina di Pietrasanta, which has a lovely beach.