VICTORY!! Pistoia has been proclaimed the Italian Capital of Culture for 2017! Yes, you read it right: beating off competition from eight other locations, the Tuscan city was awarded the coveted prize, resulting in one million euros from the Ministry of Culture for the realization of its project that was considered particularly significant and sustainable.
To accompany this important victory there will be many events, starting this year, to animate the city in Tuscany. For example, the running of an exhibition on Marino Marini, a well known local artist, and the great festivals that, every year, bring thousands of visitors in Pistoia: Pistoia Blues, Dialogues on Man and Reading the City. If you want to keep yourself updated on all the events in Tuscany, see the dedicated page on our site!
Pistoia, Italy is one of the smallest provinces of Tuscany and one of the least known. Are you thinking that it is not worth it? Then you are mistaken, dear travellers. If you do not know what to see and what things to do in Pistoia that is only because you have not read the small guide of toscanainside.com! If you look at where Pistoia is in Italy on the map you will see that it is in a special position for those who love the mountain scenery or for those who want to relax in one of the beautiful Pistoia spas!
Pistoia is a perfect destination for family tourism. If you are travelling with children, the answer is always Pistoia zoo, parks, Pistoia monuments, nature areas and a visit to the town of Pinocchio! For adults do not miss the events in Pistoia, great masterpieces of Italian art and interesting dishes to be enjoyed with a glass of wine. The surroundings of Pistoia are equally fascinating with villages, castles and rolling hillsides.
If you are looking for entertainment and fun it is good to know that in Pistoia events including music and folk are plentiful. Have you heard of the Pistoia Blues Festival or the Giostra dell’Orso (Joust of the Bear)?
Now that we have whetted your curiosity, we begin to seriously learn about this amazing city!
WHERE IS PISTOIA, Italy. A city north of Tuscany, it extends along the southern Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, not far from the border with Emilia Romagna and is close to the city of Prato, Florence and Lucca. Its territory is mostly mountainous, with some hilly areas, and is bordered by the river Ombrone.
The so-called Pistoiese Mountain includes among its locations the ski resort of Abetone, also excellent for summer trekking! Looking at the Pistoia map, it is a great stopping point for those who want to reach the coast of Versilia.
A visit Pistoia, Italy is an invitation to explore the surrounding landscapes and a nature that invites you to slow down the pace of a hectic life.
ATTRACTIONS. Pistoia is a real surprise for those who still do not know. There are, in fact, works of art of great importance and other original things to visit in Pistoia Italy!
On arrival things to see and do in Pistoia include visiting the monuments and churches. For the first stage go to Piazza del Duomo to admire the Cathedral of San Zeno with its Bell Tower, the Baptistery and the Bishop's Palace. The Cathedral of Pistoia (in particular, the spectacular interior) will hit you right away with its Romanesque facade: the porch was decorated by the great Andrea della Robbia!
The interior of the cathedral of Pistoia has undergone numerous renovations and additions of the Baroque period, but the point that attracts the most attention is the famous altar of San Jacopo, made of silver and studded with precious gems: it is a priceless masterpiece of Italian jewellery. This wonderful altar is the object of great devotion in Tuscany: Pistoia rendered homage to San Giacomo (St. James) and elected him as the patron saint of the city after the arrival of his sacred relic. In addition to this jewel of art, look along the aisles of the church for the Monument of Cino from Pistoia (Gothic sculpture), the Cross painted by Coppo di Marcovaldo and the panel work Madonna and Child with Saints John the Baptist and Donato (1475 -1480) attributed to Lorenzo di Credi.
Next to the Pistoia Cathedral is the Bell Tower, once the Lombard Romanesque watchtower, standing more than 60 metres high. Continue your tour with the great Baptistery of San Giovanni in Corte: the 14th century Gothic style with its octagonal design and decoration of white and green marble make this building unique and majestic. The tour continues with Pistoia other religious buildings in Romanesque style: St. Andrew, St. Bartolomeo in Pantano, S. Pier Maggiore and St. Giovanni Fuorcivitas.
The peculiarity of these churches in the city of Pistoia are the lintels carved in relief and pulpits of enormous artistic value, among which we suggest a visit to St. Andrew, by Giovanni Pisano. Also in this church, attention is to be given to the relief of the architrave, made by Gruamonte and depicting the Journey of the Three Kings.
When you're in Pistoia, Della Robbia is a name you will hear on several occasions: for instance, in the beautiful church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas is a little treasure, the Visitation, a terracotta sculpture of 1445 and a work by Luca della Robbia. You will be left speechless!
Other important Renaissance churches include the Madonna of Umiltà, whose dome was designed by Giorgio Vasari in the second half of the 16th century, and the Church del Letto in St Lorenzo Square.
If you are interested in Baroque art, Pistoia is rich in examples of the time: the Church of the Annunciation (the famous Cloister of the Dead), the Church of the Carmine and the Church of the Holy Spirit. You do not like Baroque?
Then we also recommend you visit the Medici Fortress of Santa Barbara and the 14th century walls that surround the city. Your tour of Pistoia's historic centre is nearly complete, lacking only the historic Ceppo Hospital. This former charitable institution in Pistoia dates back to the 13th century and was one of the most important in helping the sick and needy of the region, especially in 1348, the year of the terrible Black Death.
If you are passionate about this type of evidence, you can also visit the Museum of the hospital, full of antique surgical instruments, the Anatomical Amphitheatre and the anatomical dissecting room with a frieze depicting the seven works of mercy by Santi Buglioni (even these are related to Pistoia Della Robbia!).
WHAT TO DO IN PISTOIA, Tuscany? There is an alternative way to get in touch with the territory. No new-age rites, no need to get agitated! Now is the time for you to discover the Pistoia Underground Museum! In the hospital area, in addition to the scalpels of the 18th century, there is the Pistoia Underground Museum: a distance of approximately 650m underground! It is an archaeological site that will introduce you to the real roots of this great city and the children will love it!
Bad weather? Consider that there is no shortage of museums and galleries in Pistoia, and they can be an excellent solution for rainy days: first of all, the Civic and the Diocesan Museums, after which we suggest a visit to the Marino Marini Museum, the Museum of Palazzo Rospigliosi and Studio House of Fernando Melani. Another very interesting place is the modern public library of St Giorgio, one of the largest in Tuscany, with a beautiful lounge and a cosy reading room.
PISTOIA EVENTS. The undisputed star of the summer is certainly the Pistoia Blues Festival with its international celebrities ready to make you languish with touching notes. Not to be forgotten either is Dialogues on man, a festival dedicated to anthropology and philosophy studies, and the Market Exhibition (Arts and Crafts) of local products of Pistoia and surroundings, which is held every year between June and July.
GIOSTRA DELL’ORSO. Pistoia celebrates its patron saint on 25 July with a particularly fascinating historical re-enactment: the Giostra dell'Orso (Joust of the Bear). It is a horse race in the historic quarters of Pistoia in the spectacular Piazza del Duomo that is on this event turned into a huge oval track, where the horses run, surrounded by grandstands for spectators. This race has medieval origins and, as with other traditional jousts in Tuscany (see the Palio of Siena) the prize consists of a precious piece of fabric.
The challengers consist of the four historic districts distinct from their coats and colours: the District of Dragon (red and green), the District of the Golden Lion (yellow and red), the District of Gryphon (black and red) and the district of White Deer (white and green). Does it feel like reading Harry Potter? Well, basically, English novelists haven’t really thought of everything!
The race takes place during the evening of 25 July in Piazza del Duomo; but do not miss the parade in the day, the mass in honour of the saint and the bishop's blessing to the knights. The race sees the participation of three riders for each district and the challenge is to hit and knock down a target in the shape of a bear with a spear. They 'fight' eighteen times trying to get the most points and win the prize of victory. The Knight of the Golden Spur is the one who manages to earn the highest score for his district. You just have to decide which side you are on! The Joust of the Bear is a Pistoia event that must be seen and which is always loved by children!
WHAT TO SEE IN PISTOIA. In the area around Pistoia (northern Tuscany) there are many opportunities for fun and relaxation. Among the top destinations and the things to visit in Pistoia, Italy on weekends there are spas. Pistoia, in fact, is not far from the fantastic facilities of Montecatini and Monsummano! You may visit Pistoia in a day and then enjoy a well-deserved relaxation at the spa or, alternatively, travel to Florence and Lucca nearby to spend a few days also in these fantastic cities!
The mountains are beloved in Pistoia for summer tourism or in winter: skiing in Val di Luce or Abetone, walking or trekking through the woods, or cycling for an active holiday in contact with the environment!
As for children, you only have to choose what to do with them! The Pistoia zoo in Tuscany is located just outside the historic centre and home to many species of animals including lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes and bears! Have fun and follow thematic tours and let children play in the areas devoted to them!
The journey into the fantasy continues with the Pinocchio Park in Collodi. In the same area you will find two other great attractions: the Garzoni Garden, one of the most beautiful gardens in Tuscany, and the Butterfly House where you can admire the colours of countless tropical species! It will feel like a beautiful dream…
A visit of Pistoia will be a unique experience! The city is able to win over lovers of art, local traditions and mountains landscapes; learning about Pistoia and its surroundings will help you realize the value of this small and not very well-known Tuscan city.
Pistoia in Italy will be a pleasure to discover, a gift for the younger ones who will experience magical moments outdoors full of fairy tales and nature.
All you need now is a Pistoia Tuscany map and the camera ready to capture the beauty of what you have read on this page to organise your magical tour to Pistoia!
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