Palazzo Moroni in Pietrasanta
The architectural development spurred by the wealthier families of Versilia can be divided into two periods. The medieval and the renaissance eras saw the building of a large number of palaces in the historic quarters of all the main Versialian cities. Camaiore boasts the Vicario Palace, the Papini Palace, the Municipal Palace and the Tori Massoni Palace, only just out doing Pietrasanta, which in turn houses the Pretorie Palace, the Moroni Palace and the Carli Panichi Palace. Camaiore and Pietrasanta were the main cities of Versilia for many centuries, thanks to the Via Francigena, which brought a constant influx of merchants and pilgrims.
The second high point in the architectural development of the region coincides with the period in which the Lucchesi families were at the height of their power, after having conquered and reclaimed northern Tuscany. The 17th century saw the building of many new residences, tucked away in the Versilian hills. Examples include the 17th century Villa Montecatini Bartolomei at Nocchi and the 14th and 15th century style villas dotted around Massarosa, such as Villa Martelini at Stiava, or Villa Borbone delle Pianore at Camaiore. The latter was first commissioned by the then Duchess of Lucca, Maria Teresa of Savoia, and was later expanded to become the beauty it is today. The Mediceo Palace of Seravezza dates back to the mid 16th century, and was built for military use.
The palaces at Viareggio are also worthy of a special mention. Originally a small fishing village, the draining of the marshes in the 18th century saw a huge development in the structure of the city. The favourable climate, it’s closeness to the sea and the wealthy society it was beginning to attract saw the construction of numerous 19th and 20th century villas belonging to the noble and merchant families of the region. The following villas all mirror the liberty style which was popular in that era: Villa Puccini, villa Argentina, Villa Castan Arrighi, Villa Paolina and numerous other smaller villas. The same goes for Torre del Lago, where the idyllic atmosphere fascinated the famous composer of Boheme, Giacomo Puccini, as well as various nobles and merchants who had residences built on the shores of lake Massaciuccoli, examples of which are Villa Orlando and Villa Ginori.