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A Taste of Pistoia

  • A Taste of Pistoia

    Intriguing, underrated Pistoia is often dubbed `Florence in miniature’ for its vivid cultural life, quiet confidence and its concentration of art and architecture. It is this living culture that sets Pistoia apart from other cities of a similar size. Pistoia lies 76 km east of Forte dei Marmi and is reached in an hour by motorway. At the heart of Pistoia is the Piazza del Duomo, one of the most beautiful town centres in Tuscany. The star sites are clustered around the main square, making for a dizzying sense of artistic overload. Take it slowly and don’t feel the need to see everything on one visit. The main square is perfection, even when full of bustling market stalls on Saturday and Wednesday. The square also acts as a showcase for city festivities, such as Pistoia Blues, the major music festival.

    On the main square admire the jauntily striped cathedral, the sky-high bell-tower and the wedding-cake baptistery. Welcome to the Cattedrale di San Zeno (Pistoia Cathedral, also known as the Duomo), the Campanile (bell-tower) and the Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistry of St John). The same square is surveyed by the Palazzo del Comune, the Town Hall, which is home to the Museo Civico (Civic Museum).  The Pisan-Romanesque cathedral boasts a splendid 12th-century façade of green-and-white marble stripes, greatly influenced by the Pisan style, with its elaborate surface patterning. The Gothic bell-tower boasts three tiers of green-and-white Pisan arches and makes for a wonderful panorama from the top, with a bird’s eye view of Piazza del Duomo.

    Nearby stands the Palazzo dei Vescovi, the Bishops’ Palace, which houses the Museo dell’Antico Palazzo dei Vescovi, the Ancient History Museum. The square is framed by a series of handsome Renaissance palaces, including the Palazzo del Podestà, still the city’s law courts, a mansion graced by a finely decor¬ated inner courtyard. The area around the Piazza del Duomo has been pedestrianised, making it a pleasurable place for pottering. A profusion of bars, inns and elegant shops in this area adds to Pistoia’s appeal. Pistoia is also a foodie hotspot and upholds some of the best Slow Food traditions in Tuscany. The most typical dish is maccheroni sull’anatra, pasta in a rich duck sauce. See our full Pistoia guide for more tips, from dining to a great underground tour of the Ospedale del Ceppo, a monumental medieval hospital.

    Address: Cathedral, Bell-tower & Baptistry, Piazza del Duomo, 51100 Pistoia
    Tel: +39 0573 25095

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