PISTOIA - Tuscany - Travel Guide & Hotels
PISTOIA TRAVEL GUIDE
Pistoia is a Tuscan city of 90,363 inhabitants. Its origins date back to Roman times, probably as "oppidum", a military camp to defend the territory against the Ligurians, although there were probably already previous Etruscan settlements. Nothing remains of the Roman period, and recent excavations have revealed traces of a fire that probably razed the city that was later rebuilt. Pistoia experienced a period of great splendor and development under the govern of the Longobards in the eighth century, as can still be seen from the design of the urban space of the city. When Pistoia became a free municipality in 1105, the Statute of the Consuls was drafted here, the oldest written collection of laws and regulations of the communal age.
After a period of fierce struggles and revolts, Pistoia became part of the possessions of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, remaining under its control until the French domination of the 1800s, and then became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
what to see and what to do in PISTOIA
Pistoia is a small pearl of art, so much so that it was declared Italian Capital of Culture in 2017: it develops around the Piazza del Duomo, overlooked by the Cathedral of San Zeno with the beautiful Bell Tower, the Baptistery and the Palazzo Comunale. The façade of the cathedral is in Romanesque style, to which in the XIV century a porch and the three orders of lodges were added. Inside the cathedral, as well as numerous works of art by great artists, you can admire the altar of San Jacopo, patron saint of the city, built in silver plate with embossed decorations, which can be considered a true masterpiece of Italian medieval goldwork. The Bell Tower outside the Duomo, unusually separated from the church structure, was originally a Longobard watchtower, characterized by mullioned windows, loggias and, in the highest part, a belfry, adorned on the outside by a wingtip battlements. Also in Piazza del Duomo is the splendid octagonal Baptistery: it was built in 1300 and is completely covered with white and green marble that recall the facade of the Duomo. The Palazzo dei Vescovi is magnificent, with the loggia and the mullioned windows that decorate its façade. Not far away is the beautiful church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas, built in 1200: on the north side of the façade, in typical Pisan Romanesque style, decorated with white and green marbles, you can admire an architrave sculpted to represent the Last Supper. Very interesting is a group of glazed terracotta representing the Visitation, by Luca della Robbia, as well as the holy water font, probably by Giovanni Pisano, which depicts the Cardinals and Theological Virtues. For those wishing to make a special experience, it is worth making the visit to Pistoia Underground: the city has a dense system of underground tunnels that follows the path of the Brana stream, with maps along the route that show the position in relation to the city on the surface. During the visit you can trace the history of the city up to a recently restored medieval mill. Inside the underground rooms, concerts, exhibitions and events are organized periodically for an even more suggestive emotion!
Events in PISTOIA
Two main events take place in Pistoia: at the end of July there is the Giostra dell'Orso, in honor of San Jacopo, during which in the magnificent setting of Piazza del Duomo the historic districts of the city compete in a competition horse, preceded by a procession in historical clothes that crosses the city and by the blessing of horses and riders participating in the tournament. Another event that attracts visitors from all over the world is the Pistoia Blues Festival, also in July, which sees the participation of world famous artists such as Joe Satriani, Frank Zappa, Carlos Santana and many others every year.
Among the typical dishes of the Pistoia tradition there is the bread soup alla Pistoiese, a dish of the poor tradition already known in the Middle Ages, made from legumes, bacon, vegetables and stale bread; the pappa al pomodoro and the biroldo, a sausage made with the less valuable parts of the pork, flavored with pine nuts and raisins. Among the desserts we find the birignoccoluti, confetti with a bumpy surface known in Pistoia as early as the fourteenth century; the necci instead are chestnut flour crepes filled with ricotta.