The Little Athens of Versilia
The capital of ancient Versilia, Pietrasanta has been nicknamed Little Athens, due to its artistic vocation closely related to the processing of marble and bronze. Its historic centre is home to many the studios of international artists, including Igor Mitoraj and Fernando Botero, who have decided to settle here to work immersed in a creative environment.
Our tour starts from here, from the old town dotted with small shops, restaurants and wine bars. Our route begins from Porta Pisana, the only remaining gate of the three original ones that allowed access to the city. It is flanked by Rocchetta Arrighina, a small 14th-century fort built to strengthen the defences of Pietrasanta.
Art and beauty in the historic centre
When you enter you almost immediately catch a glimpse of the main square of Pietrasanta, Piazza del Duomo. Heart of the city and home to every major event in the city, in Piazza del Duomo you can find the majority of the most important monuments of Pietrasanta. The Duomo of San Martino immediately catches your attention with its pure white marble façade in a Renaissance Romanesque style, its big richly decorated rose window and its 36-metre-high Baroque bell tower. It has a beautiful spiral staircase inside but it remains unfinished on the outside, with no marble coating to cover the bricks.
In the same square stands the church of Sant’Agostino in the Romanesque style with adjoining Baroque bell tower. Today, next to this deconsecrated building, you can admire a beautiful cloister that houses the Municipal Library and the Maquettes’ Museum, which documents the activities of Versilia’s art workshops. In Piazza del Duomo you can also see the Civic Tower, also known as the Clock Tower, the Marzocco Column next to the fountain of the same name, the Panichi Carli Palace, the Municipal Theatre and the monument dedicated to Leopoldo II. Looking up there are the walls, which can be reached via a steep path that ends at the Rocca di Sala. From there you can admire a view that reaches from Viareggio to Forte dei Marmi and, on clear days, some islands of the Tuscan and Ligurian coast.
The beauty of the historic centre of Pietrasanta, however, goes beyond the most famous monuments and the tour of art galleries and museums. Here, in fact, you can simply walk in the streets that lead away from Piazza del Duomo, which are dotted with shops and workshops, to breathe a beautiful artistic atmosphere. In Pietrasanta the works of art are scattered throughout the city and the surrounding area so much that an International Sculpture Park has been created where the works of art and the land that surrounds them blend together.
There are no shortage of things to do and see in Pietrasanta: there is still the Barsanti Museum to visit dedicated to the inventor of the internal combustion engine, the Archaeological Museum, which documents the history of the Versilia, the MuSA (Virtual Museum of Sculpture and Architecture), the village of Valdicastello with the beautiful church of San Giovanni and Santa Felicita and the birthplace of Giosuè Carducci.
Marina di Pietrasanta and La Versiliana
Once you have seen all these beauties, it is time to move to the coast, where you can find Marina di Pietrasanta with its five kilometres of fine sand framed by the beautiful panorama of the Apuan Alps. Marina di Pietrasanta is divided into four areas, Fiumetto, Tonfano, Motrone and Focette, and is known for its nightlife and for the glorious past of its clubs such as the Bussola. Do not miss out a tour of the small town of Tonfano, a walk on the pier and a visit to the park and the Versiliana Villa, which was home to Gabriele D’Annunzio and where a saloon of celebrities, concerts and shows are held in the summer months.