Pistoia District guide
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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
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.