A quiet town in Lucca province, Pietrasanta has served as a sanctuary for international sculptors and artists for six centuries. 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 residence—in part due to the town’s proximity to the marble quarries of Carrara. Pietrasanta, whose straight and narrow streets follow a Roman grid layout (unusual for a Tuscan village), has maintained its status as the region’s creative epicenter. More than 15 contemporary art galleries—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. High season for gallery exhibitions is June through September. Pietrasanta, however, is more than simply an artists’ colony. Its sandy beaches, virtually undiscovered by foreigners, are a weekend getaway for vacationing Florentines and Milanese. And in recent years, a slew of stylish restaurants, boutiques, and hotels have opened, such as the intimate 19-room Albergo Pietrasanta (35 Via Garibaldi; 39-0584/793-726; albergopietrasanta.com; doubles from $487), with a private art collection. But despite this flurry of activity, the seaside community keeps its village character—a perfect balance between yesterday and today.
For a taste of hidden Tuscany, look no further than this perfect coastal village.