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Museo dell’Antico Palazzo dei Vescovi – for an historical overview

  • Museo dell’Antico Palazzo dei Vescovi – for an historical overview

    Wedged next-door to the Cathedral is Palazzo dei Vescovi, the former Bishops’ Palace, with its characteristic lancet arches and mullioned windows. Inside, the Museo dell’Antico Palazzo dei Vescovi brings ancient Pistoia to life. The museum is a stroll through Pistoia’s urban history, ranging from archaeological treasures to touchable models of the medieval Cathedral and Baptistry. Look out for Etruscan funerary slabs and Gothic frescoes. Much has come from the Cathedral Treasury, such as the medieval chalices and reliquaries. The star attraction is the Arazzo Mille Fiori, the Thousand Flowers Tapestry, a late-Gothic tapestry once displayed in the Cathedral. From prancing unicorns to meadows carpeted with flowers, this is a dazzling medieval masterpiece. The 500-year-old tapestry is regularly placed in conjunction with contemporary sculptures or artefacts to create a talking point between ancient and modern.
    While exploring the collection, you discover that Pistoia was originally a Roman town and acted as a staging post on the Via Cassia. It was razed to the ground by the invading Lombards in AD 400 but was rebuilt in grander style. Pistoia’s heyday was during the Middle Ages when it flourished as a banking centre and witnessed a building boom. The main square, with its religious and civic masterpieces, dates from this period. After its glory days, Pistoia suffered during the internecine wars between Florence and Lucca and eventually fell under Florentine control. It remained rather a backwater until contemporary times. Only in 2017, with Pistoia’s year as European Capital of Culture, did the city reacquire some of its lost lustre. As is common in Pistoia, this museum is also linked to a cultural centre so is often the setting for exhibitions, talks, classical recitals and jazz sessions.
    Address: Palazzo dei Vescovi, Piazza del Duomo, 51100 Pistoia
    Tel: 0573 369272

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