Latest update: 28 July 2022
In Tuscany, not far from Lucca and Pisa, you’ll find the artistic town of Pietrasanta. Imagine a small city center with street art, countless art galleries, and a lovely central square where the artsy population likes to stroll and meet. How can you enjoy Pietrasanta to the fullest? Let’s find out!
Favorite meeting point: Piazza del Duomo
Once, the car-free center of Pietrasanta was walled. Little of that wall is now left. However, the beautiful old city gate that takes you from Piazza Carducci to the large square Piazza del Duomo still stands proudly. The Duomo di San Martino is on the square. The red bell tower is actually unfinished; it should have had marble. Be sure to admire the inside of the church. It may not be as impressive as those in Florence or Lucca, for example, but the marble is just as beautiful.
The center of Pietrasanta is easy to understand logistically. So you’ll wander through the streets without getting lost. The colorful buildings with beautiful walls and doors are all photogenic. So it pays off to get up early and take some pictures.
The parallel streets are bursting with art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. You won’t find large chain stores but local options. All shopping streets lead to the pleasant Piazza del Duomo. Here you will find excellent spots for some people-watching. It fills up around aperitivo time, and luckily, mainly with Italians (in May at least).
Viewpoint over Pietrasanta
At the rear of Piazza del Duomo, a steep path, Via della Rocca, ascends steeply beside the remaining parts of the old city walls. The trail leads me to the beautiful 13th-century Palazzo Guinigi, or what is left of it. Unfortunately, I can’t visit the Palazzo, but I can catch my breath with a view over Pietrasanta. In the distance, you can even see the sea. The garden here is well kept, and several seating areas are gratefully used by the people who make the short but steep climb.
Artists in Pietrasanta: Michelangelo & Botero
Artists like to live in Pietrasanta, especially those who work with stone and bronze. This region has many quarries. Michelangelo even got his marble from here. The Colombian Fernando Botero has also found a home in Pietrasanta. He is known for the sculptures and paintings of sturdy people. I discovered him in Colombia and think his work is cheerful and unique. Opposite the town hall of Pietrasanta, his The Naked Warrior is proudly welcoming everyone who drives into the city.
Public art, art galleries, and museums
More than 70 art objects are displayed on the streets throughout Pietrasanta. You don’t even have to go out of your way to find one. However, if you are curious about where you can find them all, this is a handy map.
You can visit many art galleries for free. Stroll through the streets of the historic center, and you are guaranteed to bump into one. Pietrasanta also has some museums. The Museo dei Bozzetti is especially interesting, if only because of its location: a former monastery. In the museum, you will mainly find marble and plasterwork.
Marina di Pietrasanta (free beach access in Tuscany!)
Pietrasanta also has a coastal strip. You can reach it by public transport or by car from the center. Unfortunately, it’s too far to walk. Nevertheless, Marina di Pietrasanta is a welcome alternative to the (if you ask me) much too busy Viareggio. Although it also seems that the beaches here can also get crowded in the summer. Smart advice: go to Bagno Motrone; you can enter the beach for free. The beach entrances are paid in many places on the Tuscan coast. Or, a little further down the road, go to CocoBanana; this is the Google Maps location.
Trips from Pietrasanta
You can easily make a few day trips in the region by car. What about:
- Take an original photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and discover Pisa
- Explore the marble quarries of Carrara
- Spend a day admiring Cinque Terre (drive to La Spezia and take the train there)
- Discover beautiful Lucca
Hotel tip in Pietrasanta: Hotel Palagi
I stay five nights in Palagi Hotel in Pietrasanta. I can jump off my bed and onto the square. Not literally, but the hotel is right behind the city center. There is a lovely roof terrace, and at the reception, there is also plenty of seating to read or play a game. The breakfast room is not very atmospheric, but it doesn’t matter to me because the buffet is so good. There are fresh cakes, fruits, delicious cheeses, good sandwiches, and delicious cappuccinos every day. This is nice to wake up to! The hotel room is spacious and has a fridge. It’s not exactly a room fit for staying in, but the aperitivo beckons, so that is no problem at all. There is a car park two minutes’ walk from the hotel. You’ll get a key to enter.
More travel inspiration for Italy
Useful links for your Italy trip
- Travel guides. I love the practical travel guides from Lonely Planet, buy them at Bol.com or Book Depository. The latter has longer delivery times but is often cheaper.
- Flights. Be sure to check out Transavia, but do compare all your options! Definitely check out Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
- Trains to Italy. Travel by train to Italy from the Netherlands with NS International.
- Local transport. Book busses and trains in Italy with Omio or Busbud.
- Accommodation. All-time favorites: Booking.com, Natuurhuisje, and Airbnb. Or try BelVilla. Rather stay in a hostel? Try HostelWorld.
- Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. For tours with locals, go to WithLocals or Hi,hi Guide. And for bike tours, try Baja Bikes.
- Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers.
- Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
- Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? There are plenty of choices. For the Dutch, try: ANWB vakanties or Tui, Sawadee, Corendon or will you choose Vakantie Discounter?
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First published: may 2020. The article has been updated since.