Farewell to Pietrasanta

Rogue Carver on the Loose in Italy

Part 13, Farewell to Pietrasanta

Postcard From Pietrasanta. Snapped by MARTIN COONEY

When the time came to leave Pietrasanta my ‘Tuscan Adventure’ had been transformed beyond all recognition. Upon my arrival I had envisaged spending my time, or at least the majority of it, carving in one of the many studios in and around the city but that was not to be, and although initially disappointed I am now enjoying a sabbatical the like of which I could previously never  have imagined. Freed of pre-conceived ideas I am now once again able to roam the world at will, or at least this little corner of it. I could of course widen the scope and travel further afield but Tuscany has more than enough to offer a rogue carver such as me. The place is quite stunning – a feast for the senses. History lurks in every corner, every nook and cranny; sculpture abounds, and carved stone shapes the landscape with its indelible mark.

Postcard From Pietrasanta. Snapped by MARTIN COONEY

Postcard From Pietrasanta. Snapped by MARTIN COONEY

And so the idea of spending my time looking as opposed to carving is one that I am now very comfortable with. I was of course quite disappointed when it became clear that I would not, and could not fit in with the studio system as it is set up in Pietrasanta.  I had read so much about the studios, the history of the place and the marble culture that had developed down through the ages, but perhaps in hindsight I had imagined things the way I wanted them to be – a place that in all honesty most likely does not exist. For what I found was a huge industrial machine on the one hand wherein the scale of production beggared belief, and a studio system that quite blatantly facilitates and promotes the ‘celebrity sculptor’ culture, employing an army of skilled stone carvers to produce practically finished (and in some cases completely finished) carvings for an elite group of well-connected society people who in many cases wouldn’t know a chisel from a fork.

Postcard From Pietrasanta. Snapped by MARTIN COONEY

But that’s all water under the bridge.

I did however enjoy my time in Pietrasanta, especially once I had reached the conclusion that this trip was not about carving after all and took to exploring the surrounding area in ‘The Bee’, my trusty rented Fiat Panda. I also enjoyed my stay at Da Pio Bed & Breakfast immensely. Maria runs a beautiful, comfortable and efficient operation that made me feel at home the moment I stepped through the door. In fact she not only runs a truly wonderful operation but caters to her guests every need. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble – a simple question regarding this or that and she’s immediately on the phone, assembling information, checking schedules, establishing opening hours – you name it, and all this with a most wonderfully patient smile.

Then there is the well documented Bar Avio! I think I’ve said all I am going to say about the place but if you really want to see just what the perfect bar does indeed look like you need to click here to see it and read about it for yourself… just in case, you know, you ever find yourself in the area:  stay at Da Pio, hang out at Bar Avio, and rent yourself a Fiat Panda. Got that?

'The Bee' in Tuscany

I’m writing this in Ripafratta, just a stone’s throw down the road really, but another world from Pietrasanta. No chic restaurants around these parts, no studios, not many SUV’s, and not a gallery in sight. But it’s the real thing alright – a little corner of Tuscany that the tour busses can’t navigate, where the roads simply refuse to let them pass. I’m here for two weeks and in that time I plan to get to know the area pretty well.

Until next time then,


Pietrasanta, Tuscany, Italy


Cheers and Best Wishes,


Martin Cooney, Espresso in Pietrasanta, Italy

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