Friday, May 6, 2016

Pietrasanta, the city of sculpture


Today I learned about the Italian town of Pietrasanta, and thought I would share what I learned.

I first heard of Pietrasanta when I was reading about tours to Carrara, where there are marble quarries. I never really thought about visiting a quarry before, but when I think of all the amazing marble sculptures and architecture in Italy, I became intrigued. More about that later, but when I stumbled across references to Pietrasanta as "the city of sculpture" I was hooked. I wanted to learn more.

Pietrasanta is in the Versilia area, on the coast of northern Tuscany in Italy, in the province of Lucca, about 32 kilometres (20 miles) north of Pisa. The town is situated 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) inland from the coast (where the frazione of Marina di Pietrasanta is located).

With Roman origins (part of the old Roman wall still exists), the medieval town was founded in 1255. Like most of Tuscany in general, the area has long enjoyed the patronage of artists.

The aspects of the town's history that are most compelling to me relate to the marble and the sculptors who worked here. Pietrasanta grew to importance during the 15th century, mainly due to its connection with marble. In fact, Michelangelo was the first sculptor to recognize the beauty of the local stone.

Things that interest me about Pietrasanta:

  • Both Michelangelo and Henry Moore lived and worked here 
  • It is referred to as "the city of sculpture" and I want to see why 
  • There are 8 bronze foundries 
  • There are "dozens" of marble laboratories here 
  • It is near the Carrara marble quarries, which also intrigue me 
  • It is small and off-the-beaten-tourism-track 
  • Bozzetti Sculpture Museum (with sketches and models of sculptures by 100's of artists) 
  • Bruno Antonuci Archaeology Museum (with prehistoric, Etruscan, medieval and Renaissance objects) 
  • Art galleries feature some big names, such as Christo and Jeanne-Claude 
  • It has a beach * 
  • It's near Livorno, a popular cruise port of call

* The Pietrasanta Marina, with golden sand and luxurious equipment, is considered one of the best beaches of Italy.

It was because of its proximity to Livorno that Pietrasanta came to my attention, as it is mentioned as a stop on a few cruise shore excursions. It was on one of those day-long tours that include Florence, Pisa, Lucca and half of Italy (it seems), so it's not likely that I'd visit that way.... but perhaps I could visit on a self-directed excursion, or an independent visit.

I'm now curious to learn about others experiences visiting the town, and Pietrasanta's hotels (not many), sights, festivals and so on. Have you been? Please share!

Good resources
Discovering Pietrasanta - Travel + Leisure
Pietrasanta and Versilia Events Guide - local Versilia guide
Pietrasanta Travel Guide - Virtual Tourist
Pietrasanta Travel Guide - About.com
How to Tour the Marble Quarries of Carrara - About.com
Going to the beach in Italy - About.com

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