The name derives from Castrum Petrae, the ancient castle overlooking the bay, whose remains are still visible. The territory extends for two miles between Caprazoppa and Capo di Borghetto, one of most beautiful coasts of the Ligurian Riviera di Ponente. It features a white sandy beach and a wide promenade lined with palm trees. Behind the town rise a series of hills covered with orchards, olive trees and Mediterranean scrub and tall mountains, such as Monte Carmo, which protect the coast providing Pietra with a mild climate throughout the year. The town's plan is typical of the Roman castrum: the blocks of houses compose of a compact complex of tall buildings that overlook streets perpendicular to each other, forming a defensive wall around the perimeter. The alleys of the center with their characteristic buttresses, host today small shops that offer, among other things, the top quality gastronomic products of the area. All the alleys bring to the old centre's main square, which features the Oratory dei Bianchi on one side and a series of porches on the otherside.
The first settlement built in the territory of Pietra, dates from the Neolithic period, as evidenced by the numerous archaeological remains found in the caves of Mount Trabocchetto. Other finds date back to the Iron Age and the Roman period during which the local populations, the Ligurian-Ingauni, strongly opposed, for a long time, against the Latin domination. To resist the local inhabitants allied themselves with the Carthaginians during the Second Punic War. It was near the Cape Caprazoppa that in 181 B.C. the Romans defeated the troops of Carthage and began a long period of subjugation for the Liguria. At that time they built a Castrum in the area and during reign of the Lombards, a medieval village was built the at the foot of the hill of Trabochetto, in a location where the mild climate permitted a strong growth of crops.
During the Middle Ages, the town was submitted under the rule of the Marquis of Carretto and the Bishop of Albenga. In the XII century, around the castle, the Borgo Vecchio was built and the town's borders extended to the Southwest, giving space to built the Borgo Nuovo. At the end of the XIV century, Pope Urban VI ceded the town to the Republic of Genoa, until its annexation into the Kingdom of Sardinia and then into the one of Italy. Pietra remained loyal to Genoa in 1625 involved in the war between the Republic and the Savoy for the possession of Finale. Genoa fortified the town and promoted the development of the port, through which Pietra became an important strategic center in the Mediterranean and continued its expansion planning. In the early XX century, the establishment of shipyards were encouraged in the harbor.
Not to miss:
The remains of the castle situated on a cliff facing north-east are visible in the form that it took after the amendments made in the XIV century.
The Oratory of the Bianchi built in the X century, originally named after the town's patron Saint, St. Nicholas of Bari, is currently used as an auditorium. Refurbished in the Baroque age, today features its interior with one major nave, and two side aisles supported by archways and columns. It preserves a series of old oil measures, and the remains of a medieval well.
The Church dell'Annunziata of the XVII century, that features one nave, a black and white marble striped façade and a beautiful portal that holds a "Madonna" of the artist Maragliano, a painting by De Ferrari and the "Annunciazione" by Brandimarte. The nearby convent hosted the future Pope Pius V.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Salvation of the XVI century, which preserves inside an altarpiece of the XVI century of the artist Castello.
The Church of St. Nicholas of Bari, which was built in the XVIII century, the façade dates back to the beginning of the later XIX century. Flanked by two bell towers, it consists of a nave with a vault frescoed in Neoclassical style. It houses valuable paintings by Montanari and Castello.
Palace Gramatica which adjoins to the castle and built in the XVIII century.
Palace Goll, at present seat of the Town Hall and has a beautiful marble portal of Finale, Palace Basadonna, Palace Lanfranco Accame, Villa Accame, Palace Maggi Bosio e Palace Bado.