Pistoia District Guide


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Pistoia District guide                               (Back to Pistoia  main information page)

Pistoia is an undiscovered marvel inside Tuscany. In fact few tourist visit this ancient town which don't bothered of publicised itself.

A traveller wrote at the end of the 19 century -" Those who don't know Pistoia can't even imagine what artistic treasures are hidden there" and it is exactly this that surprises visitors who wind on foot through its enchanting streets and squares, not only because of its world renowned artistic masterpieces but because of the atmosphere you feel as you lose yourself in its streets.

Although it is not yet as visited as other towns in Tuscany, Pistoia presents a well-preserved and charming medieval city inside the old walls. The large Piazza del Duomo is lined with attractive original buildings, and is the setting (in July) of the Bear Joust (Giostra dell'Orso), when the best horsemen of the districts of the town tilt with lances at a target held up by a dummy shaped like a bear. 

The savagery of the ancient inhabitants of Pistoia lives on in the weapon that takes its name from their city (though the word "pistol" originally referred to a type of dagger). But the idea of savagery is unfair; this city is an architectural feast, especially the unforgettable Ospedale del Ceppo, with its ornate terracotta frieze and medallions.

The city has about 90,000 people, capital of Pistoia prov, and lay at the foot of the Apennines. It is an agricultural and industrial center. Manufactures include leather and metal goods, glass, textiles, and footwear. Pistoia was under Roman rule from the 6th cent. B.C. In 62 B.C., Catiline, the Roman politician and conspirator, was killed in battle nearby. The city rose to prominence in the 12th and 13th cent., and its citizens made important contributions to architecture and sculpture. Hampered by wars and by internal strife between the Blacks and the Whites (these factions were transferred from Pistoia to Florence), it fell under the hegemony of Florence in the 14th cent. Noteworthy buildings include the Pisan-Romanesque cathedral (13th?14th cent.); the churches of Sant' Andrea (with a pulpit by Pisano) and San Pietro; a 14th-century baptistery; the Palazzo Pretorio (14th cent.); and the Ospedale del Ceppo (13th?16th cent.), with a fine terra-cotta frieze by Giovanni della Robbia.


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