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A trio of city churches

  • A trio of city churches

    Pistoia has a rich collection of parish churches, many with notable artworks – in particular the Pisano pulpits, which are the great pride of the town. Elaborately carved baptismal fonts are another highpoint in the city churches. Begin on via Sant’Andrea with Sant’Andrea, the most obviously appealing church. This austerely beautiful place dates back to the days of the Longobards and boasts two masterpieces, a pulpit and crucifix by Pisano. An arcaded façade and sculpted central doorway lead to a lavish painted wooden ceiling and a narrow nave, well-lit from the upper clerestory. Here is one of the famous pulpits by Giovanni Pisano, a dramatic work created between 1298 and 1301. The model was the Nicola Pisano pulpit in the Baptistry in Pisa, sculpted by Giovanni’s father, and considered a turning point in western art. Compared with Giovanni Pisano’s own major pulpit in Pisa Cathedral, this one is even more accomplished. The sharply carved marble reliefs border on the melodramatic in their depiction of The Life of Jesus and The Last Judgement.

    Another local favourite is San Bartolomeo in Pantano (St Bartholomew in the Swamp) set on Piazza San Bartolomeo. This 12th-century church is one of Pistoia’s oldest and boasts a five-bay façade studded with marble carvings. Inside is a pulpit by Guido da Como (1250) studded with marble reliefs that depict The Nativity, all supported by sculpted marble lions.

    Finally, the pedestrianised via Cavour is home to the Romanesque church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas, named because it was built outside the city walls. The 12th-century church has an elaborate green-and-white-striped marble façade in true Pisan style. Inside is another impressive pulpit, created in 1270 by Fra Guglielmo da Pisa, a pupil of Nicola Pisano. Equally admirable is the baptismal font by Giovanni Pisano and a touching white-glazed terracotta depiction of The Visitation, by Luca della Robbia.

    Address: Sant’Andrea, via Sant’Andrea, Pistoia
    San Bartolomeo in Pantano (St Bartholomew in the Swamp), Piazza San Bartolomeo, Pistoia
    San Giovanni Fuorcivitas, via Cavour, Pistoia

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