In a town where British accents are practically non existent, the odds of finding an Italian taxi driver speaking broad Scottish were lower than winning the lottery. But, when Roberto picked us up outside our villa it seemed Rob Roy had crossed over to Italy. We were renting a villa in Pietrasanta, courtesy of Bridgewater Travel, a family-run Tuscan luxury rentals specialist and we were taking a cab in for a wander around Pietrasanta, the beautiful city of marble, the legendary coastal retreat of artists and sculptors and the Florentine well-to-do.
Our villa was in a quiet neighbourhood of Pietrasanta’s beach front suburb, Marina di Pietrasanta, just four kilometres from town and a short walk to the beaches, considered by many to be the finest in Italy. Villa owner Giovanna provided the perfect greeting by bringing a Tuscan plum cake as a welcome gift. Now that’s what I call service. The rustic Villa Stella comfortably slept seven people, with four good size bedrooms, three bathrooms and a couch bed in the lounge. Pleasant surprises included two bottles of wine, the clutch of soft drinks waiting for us in the fridge and the fresh flowers Giovanna brought in every morning.
First impressions are always so important, particularly with rented accommodation because it’s your temporary home and you want it to be as welcoming as possible. Fortunately, Giovanna lived in another property within the grounds so she was on hand if we needed some local advice as was Lucy, our Bridgewater representative who is based here during the summer months.
Villa Stella comes with two bikes we could use and more could be hired very easily if needed. In the summer months, the locals ditch their cars and ride their bikes everywhere along designated cycle tracks in the town and beyond.
Marina di Pietrasanta, like most Italian beach resorts, has immaculately kept private beach clubs which provide delicious meals during the day and all the beach equipment you’ll need. To be more accurate there are one hundred and ten beach clubs here (literally numbered 1 to 110 each with its own clearly marked price list) where you get your own space for the duration of your stay. My personal favourite? Eden Park, inviting and peaceful with only green and white striped Tenda Canopies which are cloth covered gazebos with sun beds, directors and deck chairs, and a table which doubles as a locked box for valuables. It’s got a pretty spectacular restaurant too.
There are free beaches called Spiaggia Libera, obviously not so well kept and you’ll need to bring your own towels and chairs. Amusing anecdote: I followed a beach sign that read Spiaggia Libera 500 Metres for nearly a mile with no free beach in sight unit I realised the sign itself was signifying the free beach stretched from there for 500 metres!
The medieval yet elegant old town is remarkable; marble statues abound, many sculpted by local modern artists clearly inspired by the talent of their predecessors who included Michelangelo no less. During the day there’s a sleepy feel to it but once night falls the streets, restaurants and designer shops and boutiques do brisk business. Unlike many other Tuscan towns, it’s not built over the hills and it’s all virtually pedestrianised so it’s easy to stroll around yet you still get to admire the dramatic mountain scenery surrounding you. In the centre of town, the Bozettii Sculpture Museum is well worth a visit, as is the Duomo, Church of San.Martino. which dominates the main piazza.
In Marina di Pietrasanta, the pier is a nightly draw for live music and along the pedestrianised main street there are a many great places to eat or enjoy aperitivo – a late afternoon/evening feast which is yours for free when you order a drink! This is Italy after all.
For more choice, head to the old town which comes into its own at night. With restaurants on every corner, you will be hard-pressed not to fine something to tantalise the taste buds. My personal favourite was Trattoria da Sci a fantastic family run restaurant with no menu, just mama in the kitchen delivering five courses of mouth-watering regional fare for €25 which included water and wine.
Considering Pietrasanta and Marina di Pietrasanta are so easy to get to, they feel like one of Italy’s best kept secrets. They are surprisingly reflective of the real Italy, plenty of authentic local colour and traditional Tuscan food.
Mind you, I’m sure if I asked Roberto he could rustle up a Scottish dish or two.
I want to rent a villa in Pietrasanta. How much is it and how do I get there?
Bridgewater Travel offers summer villa rentals in Pietrasanta from £2775 per week for a 3 bedroom villa sleeping 6 people. Price includes luxury beach club membership for 6 with access to swimming pool, beach /pool towels and use of 6 bicycles. Early booking incentives available. Low season and low occupancy rentals available from only £1200 per week. Apartments in Pietrasanta old town or villas by the sea. Personalise your holiday further with Bridgewater’s ‘Finishing Touches’ such as hampers, cook service, airport transfers, wine tasting, daily maid.
easyJet flies to Pisa from Bristol, Gatwick and Luton airports up to five times a week with prices starting from £23.99 per person (one-way, including taxes and based on two people on the same booking).
There are regular direct train services from Pisa Airport to Pietrasanta.
Trattoria Da Sci
Via Nazario Sauro 2
55045 Pietrasanta – Lucca
Tel: +39 0584 793543 – Mobile +39 340 2726685