Pietrasanta is a small town in the province of Lucca and is one of Italy's most famous towns for the production of marble sculpture. The name of the town, literally translated means "sacred rock", and with good reason.
Pietrasanta has served as a sanctuary for international sculptors and artists for six centuries and it was here, in the lofty quarters of the city’s palazzi, that Michelangelo, Henry Moore, and, more recently, Fernando Botero chose to set up their residence, in part due to the town’s proximity to the marble quarries of Carrara.
Pietrasanta is quite different than its neighbours, like Camaiore and others whose streets follow a more circular pattern. Pietrasanta has straight and narrow streets that follow a Roman grid layout (unusual the Tuscan villages in these parts), and has maintained its status not only as one of this regions most beautiful towns, but also as on of Tuscany's most creative epicentres.
There are more than 15 contemporary art galleries in Pietrasanta—including Galleria La Subbia (11 Via Padre Eugenio Barsanti; 39-335/586-4558) and Galleria Tega (56 Via Provinciale Vallecchia; 39-0584/793-940), where you can see works by renowned Tuscan artist Sandro Chia and avant-garde duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude—have opened in the town’s historic neighborhood.
The season for some of the towns most prolific gallery exhibitions is from June through September. Pietrasanta, however, is more than simply an artists’ colony.
Not 10 minutes away from the historical town, the town's Marina offers sandy white beaches, that are virtually undiscovered by foreigners. There are several lidos which dot the shores from May to October and relaxing at any one of them, can make for a great weekend getaway. Vacationing Florentines and Milanese already know Pietrasanta well and you will find the shores at Pietrasanta and the town itself quite populated during the summer particularly on the weekends. From spring to late fall however, chances are that you may have the beaches entirely to yourself, although in recent years, a a slew of stylish restaurants, boutiques, and hotels have opened and continue to draw people from the neighbouring Tuscan towns and all over Italy.
Despite this flurry of activity, Pietrasanta has maintained its charm and this artistic seaside community keeps its village character in tact, making for a perfect balance between the ancient masters who found peace here and the contemporary artists of the 21st century which continue to find inspiration in these same streets and along these same shores.