can’t visit Pietrasanta without exploring its elegant
streets in search of its artistic spirit. Luckily, this bohemian
town puts its creative endeavours front and centre, with more than
a few famous artists having donated works to the city. The elegant
historic centre features everything from famous frescoes to ancient
sculptures, much of it free to view. Put cooler Tuscan mornings to
good use by taking in the opulent cathedral overlooking the central
piazza (and checking out the sculpture collection at the nearby
Museum of Bozzetti), then make like the resident Tuscans and head
straight to the beach to soak up some sun.
Take a stroll down Pietrasanta’s main street, Via Giuseppe
Mazzini, and visit La Misericordia. The tiny chapel is adorned with
two famous paintings, Colombian painter Fernando Botero’s Heaven
and Hell frescoes. The murals are typical of the 20th-century
artist’s work, featuring large, rotund figures presented in a
storybook environment. Once you’ve marvelled at his voluminous
cherubim and red-hot hellfire, seek out his Warrior sculpture, just
around the corner.
Via Giuseppe Mazzini, 55045
Hit the beach
Public service announcement: in summer, everything in town
closes at midday, at which point almost everyone makes a beeline
for the beach. Rent a couple of bicycles from hotel Albergo
Pietrasanta and cycle down Via Apua through pinewood forests until
you hit the coast. Once there, hire a tent at one of the many
bagnos (beach clubs) that fringe the shore.
The city of Lucca
Hop in the car and set the satnav for Lucca. The 40-minute drive
will be worth it for all of the Renaissance art, enotecas (wine
bars) and grand old churches you’ll discover packed tightly into
the stony confines of this medieval walled city. We suggest
saddling up and skirting the city’s crumbling walls by bike for an
on-the-ground introduction to its storied streets.
Forte dei Marmi Flea Market
On Wednesday and Sunday mornings, the most fabulous flea market
unravels slap bang in the centre of Forte dei Marmi, just a
30-minute bike ride from Pietrasanta. After you’ve picked up as
many supple leather goods and as much boho beachwear as your
suitcase will allow, order a cappuccino and a fresh spremuta
d’arancia (freshly squeezed orange juice) at the nearby Caffè
Forte dei Marmi, Italy
Take a trip to the Carrara marble quarry
Drive out to Carrara for a peek at a centuries-old marble quarry
that some say provided the raw material for Michelangelo’s David.
Whether that’s true or not, this Medici-opened marvel certainly
looks impressive – especially when viewed from one of the open-top jeeps that take visitors up the cliff
face for a small fee.