PIETRASANTA, how to get there
BY MOTORWAY: From Genova motorway A12 to the South and exit Versilia;
from Milano motorway A1 and A15 up to La Spezia and then A12 to the South and exit Versilia;
from Firenze motorway A11 up to Lucca and then the link-road to Viareggio;
from Roma motorway A1 up to Firenze, then the A11 and exit Viareggio. From the exit Viareggio or Versilia go on towards Pietrasanta.
BY TRAIN: Pietrasanta station. Time tables on the web site www.trenitalia.it
BY AIRPLANE: Pisa “Galielo Galilei” airport
BY BUS: CLAP or LAZZI from Viareggio, Lucca and Massa
WEEKLY MARKET: Mondays in Pietrasanta; Saturdays in Tonfano
Lucca wins the war against the Ghibellini feudatories and founds from scratch (1255) the city of Pietrasanta, from the name of the podestà of Lucca Giuscardo Pietrasanta from Milan, underneath Sala fortress, that was built by Longobards to guard the Via Francigena. Together with the rival Camaiore, it represents the first example in Tuscany of refounded city, with an orthogonal plant and longitudinal streets.
Under the domination of Castracani, the defence system was strengthened with the building of Arrighina and Ghibellina fortresses where Sala fotress was and the building of Collegiata and S. Agostino Church started. When Castracani died the city went to Florence thanks to the intervention of Papa Leone X of Medici.
Cosimo I made the city a stronghold of the Medicean defence system, started again the excavation of marble, iron and silver and started the land reclamation of the plane and of the coast-line. Marble attracts artists such as Michelangelo and Vasari. The city transformed Medieval architecture in Renaissance one. The grand duke Leopoldo II named it “noble city” and inaugurated the school for artistic marble working, nowadays Istituto Stagi, to form qualified craftsmen.
At the beginning of the century the tourist phenomenon along the coast becomes important and Marina di Pietrasanta was born divided in the hamlet of Fiumetto, Tonfano and Focette.
Today Pietrasanta is a centre of artistic marble working and of bronze artistic foundry and has seen artist such as Moore, Botero, Pomodoro, Cascella and Kan Yasuda. From centuries in artisan laboratories experts hand on the art of sculpture. Tools have changed, but some stone-cutter still use the old tools produced by the iron-foundry in Alta Versilia.
The production of objects and complement of furniture is important, but the dragging field of the marble economy is without doubt the field of covering.
The monuments and museums of what was today defined “the little Athens” are gathered in Piazza del Duomo, dominated from the above by Sala Fortress or Ghibellina Fortress, a fortified complex with a squared shape, angular towers and a central donjon. The fortress was connected to the city walls during the 14th century by Castracani.
The San Martin Duomo Collegiata, to which left side raises the brick campanile, is the principal element of the monumental complex of the square. The romanic style building with gothic elements underwent changes during the centuries, the marble façade has a radially rose-window and three doorways belonging to the school of Pisa, the inside has three aisles and an hexagonal pulpit made by Stagi.
The S. Agustin Church and Convent, built by Augustinian Fathers during the 14th century, has a marble façade and inside a basilican plant. The cloister is surrounded by an open gallery made of marble columns; among the tombs of renowned men is worth remembering that of Father Eugenio Barsanti, inventor of the internal combustion engine.
After the Napoleonic suppressions of monastic orders, the whole complex became propriety of the Town Hall and is today an exhibition centre.
The convent shelters the Luigi Russo Cultural Centre, the “Giosuè Carducci” Civic Library with more than 40.000 volumes and the Bozzetti Museum, that was founded in 1984 from the idea of the Danish Muljlendoroh. The sketches are reproduced in a reduced scale, while the models are in a real scale, but both of them are made with the most dissimilar materials and the dimensions vary from a few centimeters to more than 7 meters.
Palazzo Moroni with an austere façade and a double external staircase shelters the Archeological and Civic Museum articulated in seven sections from prehistory to our times and the Communal and Historical Archive with more than 3.000 documents.
The square includes the Communal Theatre and Cinema where the prose season of the Versilian theatres takes place (together with the Politeama Cinema and Theatre of Viareggio), Marzocco Fountain, built to celebrate the annexation to Florence, the Freedom Column and the Monument to Leopoldo II.
The square is closed to the South by Arrighina small Fortress, that was destroyed by the Florentines and to which is connected Pisa Door, the only door remained.
If in the Middle Age the square was opened to craftsmen shops and laboratories, today, in February, there is San Biagio Fair, the antique-trade market (on the first Sunday of the month) and the handicraft market (on the second Sunday).
Walking in the historical centre, among beautiful and luxury buildings, it is worth visiting San Biagio Church, in Via Mazzini, inside which in 1993 the painter and sculptor Botero made two frescoes representing the Door of Hell and the Door of Paradise, respectively.
La Pieve di S. Giovanni e S. Felicita il monumento più antico di tutta la Versilia come provato da contratti d’affitto datati 855 ed elementi decorativi primitivi. La foto è gentile concessione dell’A.P.T. Versilia.
Along the road to Valdicastello, departing from Sarzanese, there is SS Giovanni and Felicita Parish (9th century) in romanic style, whose interior has three aisles with marble columns.
In the village there is the home of Giosué Carducci that preserves the relics of the poet. 3 Km North of Pietrasanta, along the Aurelia, there is the Parish of S. Stefano in Vallecchia (9th century), exteriourly changed while the inside with three aisles is rich of marbles and paintings.
Along the coast there is Marina di Pietrasanta, that has always been renowned for its wide sandy shore, the green of the pine forests, as well as for its night clubs for all tastes and for all ages.
It offers trendy clubs and discos, and it also has cultural interests. In fact, in Versiliana Park, with a 19th century villa, pines and olm-oakes maquis near to Fiumetto, in the summer there is the Festival “La Versiliana” with prose, ballets, music, painting exhibitions and children areas in the ex factory of “La Fabbrica dei Pinoli”. There is also “Incontri al Caffè” with people from the world of politic and show that answer the questions of Romano Battaglia.