Known as "little Athens
" for its marble studios, bronze foundries, and artisans and sculptors arriving from all over the world, Pietrasanta
was established in 1255 when a local lord gave the settlement his name and coat of arms, offering protection from the attacks of the Pisanis, Genovese, Florentines and the French. The town occupied a strategic position and its proximity to the ocean made it an attractive town to control. The historic center of Pietrasanta is rich with ancient buildings and monuments, many of them located in or near the Piazza del Duomo : the cathedral of San Martino with its red brick bell tower (14 th century), the church of Sant'Agostino (14 th century) and the Torre delle Ore , or the Tower of Hours (16 th century).
Today Pietrasanta is home to many sculptors of international repute (Fernando Botero, Igor Mitoraj, Pietro Cascella and Giuseppe Pomodoro to name a few), and the town is filled in the summer with students and teachers of marble cutting who come to share and teach techniques and otherwise take advantage fo the wealth of resourses available to artists. The Museo dei Bozzetti
housed in the ancient cloisters of Sant'Agostino, a former monastery of Augustinian friars, is the center of many important art exhibitions, paintings and sculpture alike. In the summer, sculpture exhibitions on a larger scale are mounted outside the Museo in the Piazza del Duomo. At each end of the piazza is located a bar/cafe, both popular watering holes and meeting places for locals and visitors alike. Bar Teatro is so named for its neighboring building, the town's theatre, and at the other end of the piazza, Bar Michelangelo , an inn and bar since the 15 th century in which Michelangelo was said to have stayed when he came to negotiate for the marble he used for the facade of San Lorenzo in Florence .
The town has a wonderful variety of restaurants, and offers a variety of shopping opportunities for artists and shopaholics alike, with its art supply stores, tool shops and unique boutiques. Pietrasanta has its own beach, Marina di Pietrasanta
, located on the Lungomare (sea front road) between Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi. The beachfront is lined with good hotels, restaurants and nightclubs, and of course, the ever present beach clubs.
Located at Marina di Pietrasanta is the Versiliana
, a wonderful pine forest which encompases cafes, an outdoor performance space and art exhibition center, offering a variety of music and dance performances throughout the summer. .The town's market day is Thursday, and on the first Sunday of every month an antiques market is held. Pietrasanta can be found on the Aurelia, the ancient Roman road, north of Viareggio , or it can be accessed from the Lungomare (the sea front road) from Marina di Pietrasanta, or by taking the Versilia exit from the A 12 motorway between Livorno and Genoa.