Walking Through Pietrasanta, Tuscany

Updated on May 24, 2018
Anne Harrison profile image

I fell in love with Florence at the age of 10 and have travelled widely since, but somehow I always return to this most magical of cities.

Fernando Botero's  'Fat Warrior' (c) A. Harrison
Fernando Botero's 'Fat Warrior' (c) A. Harrison

Arriving in Pietrasanta

I knew I was going to love Pietrasanta when the train pulled into a single, dusty platform. It seemed I had arrived in the middle of nowhere. I had left Florence's Santa Maria Novella less than two ago in a train which wandered through the Tuscan countryside. For the past few stations, the train line had been decorated with little villages interspersed with backyard vegetable plots. Tomatoes, beans and olive trees grew in abundance. As the train came closer to the town, chunks of marble lay scattered around, leftovers from the workshops selling statues of every kind.

A display of umbrellas (c) A. Harrison
A display of umbrellas (c) A. Harrison

Tuscany's City of Artists

I crossed the tracks to the exit. A five-minute walk to the main square and I had arrived. The heart of Pietrasanta is a pedestrian-only zone. Gracious old buildings line the Piazza del Duomo, along with cafes and restaurants. Little laneways simply begged me to explore them.

One side street was filled with umbrellas of every colour. They hung over the street, bathing it in a colourful light. This might be the place where Michelangelo stayed when coming to the Carrara quarries to choose his marble (yes, there is a plaque on one of the buildings) but Pietrasanta is also filled with modern, exuberant art. It is a living town, not one reviving past glories of a faded past. (I have to admit to having my fill of Mozart by the time I left Salzburg. His music even filled the taxis.) By contrast, Pietrasanta embraces its past, with a vibrant art scene which has grown from it. Little wonder it is often called the City of Artists. It is a giant, living artist's studio.

A magical staircase (c) A. Harrison
A magical staircase (c) A. Harrison

The Piazza del Duomo

The flat where I was staying was in one of the pedestrian side streets running off Piazza del Duomo. The entry was through the garage, built of marble and refreshingly cool after the exhausting summer heat. Even the steps to the flat were marble. Best of all, inside the garage was a red Vespa!

Sitting in the Piazza del Duomo later that day, I sat having a coffee as a mist fell over me. I was to discover this at many outdoor places in Tuscany. A pipe ran around the overhead cover, spraying a refreshing mist every few minutes. Sitting in relative coolness, I watched as a wedding entered the cathedral. Many of the buildings had rooftops gardens, a delightful place to sit in the long twilight. I often heard laughter and the clink of glasses drift down from the sky.

One of the many faces in Pietrasanta (c) A. Harrison
One of the many faces in Pietrasanta (c) A. Harrison

Siesta in Pietrasanta

In true Tuscan style, Pietrasanta closes for siesta. The entire town goes to sleep, a great solution to the enervating heat. By midday, it is just too hot to venture outside. I needed little persuasion to follow suit. I’m not one to spend entire days sight-seeing; I need time to ponder what I have seen, to think about this new world. Now the world outside was quite; the occasion footfall as someone passed by on the cobblestones, the occasional bark of a dog.

Later in the afternoon (after another coffee) I set off to explore. Even by five in the afternoon, it was blistering hot in the sun but cool in the shade (and under the umbrellas). The streets around the main piazza are filled not only with cafes and restaurants, but also art galleries and beautiful shops. A perfect way to pass an afternoon, window shopping. Everywhere there were flowers, and I even caught sight of a giraffe hiding among the foliage in a half-hidden garden.

A fresco by Botero (c) A. Harrison
A fresco by Botero (c) A. Harrison

Exploring Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta dates to Roman times (like Michelangelo, the Romans made good use of the nearby marble quarries). Part of the Roman wall still exists. Like many places in this part of Italy, the town has been passed between Genoa and the Lombards, was once part of Lucca, then belonged to the Medici.

The Duomo S. Martino stands at the top of the main piazza. The wedding had gone so I ventured in. Dating from the 14th C, it is a beautiful building, complete with sever frescoes ready to damn sinners to hell. Beside it stands a bell tower, the Torre della Ore, with an incredible helicoidal staircase built from the same bricks. Inside a local artist was exhibiting his paintings to the sounds of La Boheme. He had so many works on display they overflowed into the square outside.

Down towards what I termed the ‘modern’ end of town life picked up the pace. Suddenly there was traffic, a tourist information centre (plus an ATM). En route I passed The Chiesa di Sant’Antonio, which is filled with vibrant modern frescoes which almost burst from the wall. They are the work of Fernando Botero, a Colombian artist who lives in Pietrasanta. Further down the street is another of his works, the famous statue of the Fat Warrior.

Pietrasanta's Duomo (c) A. Harrison
Pietrasanta's Duomo (c) A. Harrison

Culinary Delights

I had explored only a little of what Pietrasanta had on offer, but it was, after all, my first day. There was still, apart from simply wandering and discovering, the Palazzo Pretorio, the Archaeology Museum, a sculpture museum in a 14th C convent, not to mention walks in the hills above the town to the fortress high above Rocca Di Sala.

Dinner that night was in a restaurant opposite the flat, sitting in a hidden courtyard under orange and lemon trees, surrounded by roses and bushes of rosemary. A local cat wandered about my feet. The local specialty is tordelli, essentially a meat-filled tortellini with a meat sauce. Delicious, especially when washed down with a glass of local red. I was going to share a creme brûlée (Pietrasanta style) with my daughter, but the gorgeous waiter brought us two.

We fell asleep to the joyous sound of the restaurants outside, and the soothing sounds of footsteps on cobbles (due to siesta, restaurants open - and close - late). Next morning, a Sunday, I woke to the sound of church bells and a brass band.

Welcome to Pietrasanta.

A street full of umbrellas (c) A. Harrison
A street full of umbrellas (c) A. Harrison

Questions & Answers

  • Are your photographs of someone else’s sculptures and paintings subject to copyright?

    Yes they are. If on public display, anyone can take photos (like reading a book in a library), but obviously I can't sell the photos without permission of the artist. If I know who the artist is, I will always credit them.

© 2018 Anne Harrison


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Anne Harrison profile imageAUTHOR

      Anne Harrison 

      2 years ago from Australia

      thank you so much Peggy, I'm so glad it inspired you. And many thanks for sharing on your Pinterest board. May you visit Pietrasanta one day soon.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What an amazing sounding place in Tuscany! Thanks for sharing your first day there with us. That staircase and dome built with bricks is amazing! Without even reading about the frescoes featuring what hell must look like it was obvious to me that was what the artist was portraying. That street of umbrellas is beautiful! Will be sharing this on Pinterest to my Italy board. Also emailing this to my husband who loves Italy. He has not been to Pietrasanta yet.

    • Anne Harrison profile imageAUTHOR

      Anne Harrison 

      2 years ago from Australia

      Thank you so much, Linda and Mary. I never would have found Pietrasanta without a friend's recommendation. I cannot but wonder how many other villages there are to discover.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This sounds like an interesting place to explore. I'd love to visit Tuscany. Walking and taking photos in the area would be great fun. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Lovely umbrellas. I have been to some places in Tuscany but not to this one. It looks like a nice place to use as a base to explore Tuscany.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)