Pietrasanta, the 'Small Athens' in TuscanyBig Names
Pietrasanta, the 'Small Athens' in Tuscany
Pietrasanta is a town in Versilia, located near Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi, famous for its beautiful beaches. What makes this place unique and interesting is the close, nearly symbiotic relationship it has had with arts for centuries, in particular with sculpture. You just need to wander through its streets to notice the overwhelming presence of art galleries, craft shops and of numerous sculptures that adorn the squares and alleys.
The relationship between Pietrasanta and art begins with Michelangelo Buonarroti who resided there with his students in the fifteenth century to work the famous white marble quarries of the Apuan Alps. The liaison with sculpture has continued in particular thanks to the skills of the artisans from Pietrasanta, who with their expert hands, help transform the rough drawings of great artists into concrete works of art. In fact, masters go to Pietrasanta because in the workshops where marble is processed they can find excellent stonemasons, decorators, hewers, modellers and sculptors. In Pietrasanta artisans do not only work marble, though! There are also many foundries whose methods of casting and bronze working are of such high standard that they attract great international artists: they provide the plaster model, and then rely on the foundry to complete the sculpture.
Fernando Botero is probably the artist who has established the closest relationship with Pietrasanta, so much so that he spends long periods of time there and even has his own study. Among the works donated to the city by the Colombian maestro: 'The Warrior', marking the entry in the town centre and two frescoes depicting 'The Gate of Heaven' and ‘The Gate of Hell’, kept in Chiesa della Misericordia. In both paintings, two characters - Hitler and Mother Teresa of Calcutta - have been symbolically reinterpreted in his own unique style.
Botero is not the only one to have chosen to work in Pietrasanta: Igor Mitoraj, Jean Michel Folon, Piero Cascella, Arnaldo Pomodoro and Jean Mirò are a few others, but the list goes on. Many great artists just mentioned have donated some of their works that have been scattered around the main areas of the centre: a walk along the streets and squares of Pietrasanta thus constitutes a unique and unrepeatable experience.
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