Pietrasanta (literally “sacred stone”) is a town on the coast of northern Tuscany in Italy, in the province of Lucca. It have been voted the most expensive town in Italy to buy a house - here the average selling price of a house is over half a million euros (541,351 euros, to be precise).
Part of Versilia, on the last foothills of the Apuan Alps, the town is about 3 kilometres off the coast, where the frazione of Marina di Pietrasanta is located.
Pietransant is known as a city of art. Unlike many other towns in Tuscany which have become popular, Pietrasanta is not a hill town and the historic centre is easily accessible.
The area around the town is still an important centre for working marble and was used as a source of marble by Michelangelo. Pietrasanta attracts artists from all over the world and the strong appetite for sculpture means that the area is making a comeback as the sculptural centre of the world.
The town itself is like an open-air contemporary sculpture museum and is dotted with art galleries and shops.
Pietrasanta is at the heart of Versilia, with its mediaeval origins, narrow streets and bohemian atmosphere. There is a strong cafe culture, where people sit and discuss art, ideas, inspirations and generally put the world to rights!
Centre stage is the beautiful Piazza Duomo, surrounded by striking buildings and backed by the Apuan Alps, the odd mix of ancient buildings and modern art works well to create the ideal space to “people watch”.
Marble processing has been cultivated here for centuries, taking marble from the nearby Apuan Alps, which has embellished many churches, streets and squares in Italy and around the world.
The most famous workshop is the Cervietti Studio in via Sant’Agostino, which holds many plaster casts of sculptures, some centuries old, including the original cast of Michelangelo’s “David” and portraits of poets, musicians and historical figures.
What to see in Pietrasanta
If you stroll through the elegant historic centre, you will be surrounded by galleries, boutiques, wine bars and restaurants. But also take time to visit the wonderful churches in Pietrasanta. The most remarkable of these is the Cathedral of San Martino which overlooks the beautiful Piazza Duomo and houses valuable works of art and an amazing helical staircase in the bell tower.
Also in the Piazza is the Church of Sant'Agostino which today houses the Museum of Pierluigi Gherardi models
Inside this museum is a collection of 700 plaster models of sculptures by Italian and international artists.
Not far from Piazza Duomo is the church of San Francesco with an adjoining convent. The sacred building was built in the 16th century by Franciscans. The convent still preserves its cloister and brick bell tower.
Near to Pietrasanta is the small village of Valdicastello, the birthplace of the poet Giosuè Carducci, the first Italian poet to receive the Nobel Prize in literature in 1906.
He said of Pietrasanta “I like Pietrasanta. A beautiful city with a unique square, a cathedral worth of a great city, against the background of the Apuan Alps….”
What to do
Summer is a good time to visit the town, when exhibitions fill the city. There are also entertainments and performances galor at the the Villa Versiliana Park in Marina di Pietrasanta.
If you go in November the patron saint is celebrated with the San Martino fair, with food markets and exhibitions held in the historic centre.