What to see in Pistoia

What to see in Pistoia - The 20 places not to be missed


Pistoia amazes, surprisingly new in the Italian tourist scene and already praised by history and architecture in the world of art. A few steps away from the Florentine capital and not far from the spa resorts and less than 50 minutes from Pisa airport, Pistoia is an additional reason to visit Tuscany, which is not only made up of well known cities and undulating hills so famous abroad.

luglio Pistoia Blues Festival Not expected so much beauty from Pistoia, medieval city, first Roman town hall, a little out of the circuit of mass tourism, unjustly underestimated...The look rises high in the city, it focuses on the ancient monuments, the medieval ones developed in Romanesque and Gothic art and then those of the Italian Renaissance, which they have produced so much and which gradually meet in an appetite to know, among stories, legends and everyday life lived before us. Sitting at the foot of the nearby Apennine hills, Pistoia is an enchanted corner of Italian memory. We invite you to visit it through some of its most characteristic monuments and places:

Piazza Duomo di Pistoia (Dome Square)


Piazza del Duomo a PistoiaThe early origins of the main square of Pistoia can be traced back to the period of ancient Rome. In that distant period, and a short distance from this same place, the extension of the Via Cassia towards the north was built, precisely at the intersection of the Decumano Maximus (the road that ran east-west) and the Cardo Maximus (the pivotal point, that is the road that ran north-south), the two main lines of ancient Roman urbanism. The two routes currently correspond to the Via degli Orafi and Via Bracciolini. Pistoia already existed as an Etruscan settlement, but it was with the Romans that the city developed; the first certain testimonies are dated from the second century BC and speak of the city as the main support point of the Roman army in the fight against the Ligurians. With the Romans, the square became the nerve centre of the small town that was being formed, so much so that a small Forum and a noble residence were built nearby. With the Lombards, in fact, the urban heart of the city moved nearby, in today's Piazza della Sala. Today, Piazza del Duomo di Pistoia is the result of centuries of history and is surrounded by architectural monuments that more than others have marked its urban growth: the Cathedral of San Zeno (XI century), the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Corte (XIV century), the Palace of Bishops (XI century), the Palazzo Pretorio (XIV century), the Town Hall (XII century).



Duomo di Pistoia (Cathedral of Pistoia)


Duomo di PistoiaThe bell tower of the Cathedral of San Zeno, dedicated to the "Moorish Bishop", can be seen from almost all of Pistoia. It must have always been a point of reference in these parts, so as not to get lost and not to lose the soul. The cathedral has an ancient history, which is lost almost to the limits of the end of the Roman Empire, an era in which the certainties accumulated by centuries of Roman times vanished, leaving the field to the only foothold that seemed to remain, the church, in an era of invasions and destruction that followed one another relentlessly by Goths, Byzantines, Lombards and Franks. The current building of the cathedral, certainly rose above a religious building built during the domination of the Longobards of the city, who made it their gastalized, a center of administrative and religious power, partly autonomous... Continue reading on the Cathedral of Pistoia.



Palazzo del Comune di Pistoia (Town All)


Palazzo del Comune di PistoiaRecognizable in the large Piazza del Duomo, the Palazzo del Municipio (Town All) is dated XIII century and probably was built by the then city mayor, Giano della Bella (the building is also called Palazzo di Giano). The present appearance of the palace is the result of several architectural developments: it is a 14th century original, while previously the portico had already been built in the main external façade (the addition of the fifth archway is later) and the elevation of the second floor. Subsequently, the renovation was concentrated in the interiors.... Continue reading on the Town All of Pistoia.



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Baptistery of San Giovanni


Battistero di San GiovanniThe Baptistery of San Giovanni in Pistoia dates back to the mid-14th century and stands on the area of the ancient baptismal church of Santa Maria and San Giovanni in Corte. The position opposite the Cathedral of Pistoia is quite usual for this type of church in the early Christian Romanesque period. It was born in a period of high construction experiences and can be considered an emblematic work of Gothic Tuscan architecture. It is also one of the last examples of a building designed to house exclusively the baptismal font... Read on the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Pistoia.


Bishops' Palace


Palazzo dei Vescovi - Pistoia

For almost eight centuries, and until 1782, this was the residence of the bishops of Pistoia. In 1786 it was sold to private individuals, thus beginning a period of profound transformation. It was only in 1980 that the palace, following a complex restoration project, acquired a new value of testimony. The traces of the numerous interventions that have taken place over the centuries are made evident and new exhibition spaces are equipped. Thus the entire volume of the Sacristy is retrieved, which saw the sacrilegious theft of Vanni Fucci, remembered by Dante (Inferno, XXIV, 138)...Read on the Bishops Palace in Pistoia.



Palazzo Pretorio di Pistoia (Palazzo del Podestà)


Palazzo Pretorio di PistoiaThe actual Palace of the Prefecture of Pistoia is much older. The building originated in medieval times, built to house the then Municipal Podestà, then replaced by the Florentine Commissioners during the domination of the Medici Florence. It represented the third most important power in the city, the judiciary, alongside both the religious and civil powers of the church and the Town Hall, respectively. In the 19th century, when the Podestarili magistrates were abolished, the palace became the seat of the Collegial Court and later the Royal Court of First Instance. His visit focuses in particular on the inner courtyard, covered with vaulted ceilings and decorated with a series of frescoes dating back to the fifteenth century and finished in the nineteenth century, depicting the coats of arms of the mayors and commissioners in service in the palace.

Piazza del Duomo 10
area: historical centre
Tel: +39 0573 0573 9791


Piazza della Sala


Piazza della Sala di PistoiaBehind the Piazza del Duomo and precisely the Baptistery, we arrive at another historic square of Pistoia, that of the Hall (as indicated since the Longobard period), from the name given to the administrative palace of the public (the Palazzo del Gastaldo), once present here. Traditionally, this is the area dedicated to the city's market, a place where goods and products are exchanged and which is still held daily, surrounded by traditional shops and artisan workshops... Read on Piazza della Sala.


Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas


Chiesa di San Giovanni Fuorcivitas - PistoiaThe Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas is so called because it was built outside the medieval walls of the city, flanked by its northern side (the best known), although today its position appears more than central, being located a few meters from the Piazza del Duomo. As soon as the Lombards converted to Catholicism, they built this church: this happened around the eighth century. Inside, the light rains poorly from the windows installed. In this church there are three highly admired works of excellent sculpture, known all over the world: the Pergamon (Pulpit), by Fra Guglielmo da Pisa; the Visitation, in terra cotta invetriata, by Andrea della Robbia; the Acquasantiera di Giovanni Pisano... Continue reading on the Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas.


Forteguerriana Library

Biblioteca ForteguerrianaThe Forteguerriana Library stands in Piazzetta della Sapienza, so called because it is in front of the library, which was initially called "Pia Casa della Sapienza". It was founded following the donation made on 23 August 1473 by Cardinal, diplomat and warrior Niccolò Forteguerri, for the young scholar of his city. On this Pia Casa della Sapienza it was decided in 1533 to found a library, increasing the one already very richly offered by the Cardinal, with the copious collection of the canon Sozzomeno (1387- 1458), an illustrious Grecist and Latinist from Pistoia, so that the "Pia Casa" became the present Forteguerriana Library with more than 100,000 volumes, without counting the many and valuable incunabula.



Rospigliosi Palace - Diocesan Museum

Biblioteca ForteguerrianaThe Rospigliosi Palace in Pistoia is located in Via Ripa del Sale, which opens in the Piazza del Duomo between Palazzo Comunale and one side of the Cathedral. On the noble floor of the palace, built in the mid-16th century with the renovation of pre-existing buildings, the very composite collection of the diocesan museum has been on display (since 1989). Books, miniatures, sacred furnishings, goldsmith's objects and sculptures from the diocese. Open to the visit is also the one, which is commonly called the apartment of Pope Clement IX. The Cathedral Museum, which was previously located in the Bishop's Palace, has been remodelled in this building. which presents, among other things, valuable examples of Gothic goldsmith's art and various reliquaries.




Churches of Pistoia


Chiese di PistoiaThere are numerous churches of architectural and historical interest in Pistoia and all contain an important view of the Pistoia and medieval and Renaissance Tuscany. In addition to those mentioned, the visit to the church of San Pier Maggiore (built in Longobard period and known for the tradition of the so-called Mystical Marriage of Pistoia, a ritual that saw the bishop of the diocese - after a long procession that began from Porta Lucchese - exchange the rings with the abbess of the convent of San Pietro; the church of San Bartolomeo in Pantano (originary of the eighth century), which is particularly appreciated for its interior and for the architrave, the beautiful pulpit and the marble reliefs sculpted; the parish church of Sant' Andrea (VIII century), famous for the Pulpit of Sant'Andrea, a fourteenth-century masterpiece sculpted by Giovanni Pisano; the Church of San Michele in Cioncio (XII-XIII century), so called because it probably served the wool workers - as a pepper, that is, the workers' wages; the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (XV century), which was probably built by the Pistoiese architect Ventura Vitoni (and not from the Florentine one, Michelozzo) and which is also known as the Sanctuary of the Madonna del L bed, because it served as a chapel of the nearby Ceppo hospital; and which is also known as the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Letto (Mary of the Bed), because it served as a chapel of the nearby Ceppo hospital; the Church of Santissima Annunziata di Pistoia (originally dated 13th century), which today appears in Baroque style because of the numerous rehashes in past historical epochs. Inside there are numerous works of art, including the' Nativity' of Lodovico Cardi known as Cigoli; the Church of the Holy Spirit (13th century) in Baroque style.




Via degli Orafi (Goldsmiths' Street)

Via degli orafiWe are in one of the oldest streets of the city, developed from the Upper Decumanus of Roman Pistoia, the road axis oriented east-west direction in the urban planning of the period. From here, Pistoia connected with Lucca through Porta Lucensis. The current name derives from the many goldsmiths' shops traditionally present for a long time, despite changing the name several times depending on the role played in the various historical epochs of the city: in the past it was, for example, called via Taberna, today remained in a part of it, perhaps for the taverns present for the benefit of the many wayfarers who crossed it. Along the street, important buildings have succeeded each other in time and are still present today, for example the Palazzo Bracciolini Api (inspired by the aesthetic canons of the Medici period) located a few steps away in the current Via dei Bracciolini, Pistoiaand buildings in Art Nouveau Art Nouveau Art Nouveau style. The latter are a surprising discovery in Pistoia, built thanks to the passion of a travelling merchant of Lombard origin who later became a prominent element in the city community of the early twentieth century: this is the case, for example, of the Cinema Eden in Pistoia (formerly Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Pistoia), located at number 54 in Via degli Orafi and then connected with the nearby Via dell'Abbondanza and Via della Posta Vecchia. The gallery is the result of a great participation of artists and workers from Pistoia (the project was carried out with the collaboration of Ugo di Casanova, Paglianti and Michelucci for wrought iron ornaments). The building served both as an exhibition gallery and theatre for variety and film shows.


Fortezza di Santa Barbara di Pistoia

Piazza della Resistenza

Area: poco fuori il centro storico e a destra della stazione ferroviaria centrale di Pistoia

Tel: +39 0573 24212


Fortezza di Santa Barbara a PistoiaLa fortezza di Santa Barbara è parte delle antiche mura di Pistoia, oggi rimaste in un breve tratto urbano della città, tra cui il presente. Un tempo e in epoche successive la città era infatti circondata da tre cortine murarie, di cui la prima completata verso nel lontano VIII secolo. L'ultima cerchia, oggi riconoscibile tra i viali Matteotti ed Arcadia, venne innalzata dopo la conquista di Pistoia da parte dei Fiorentini nel 1306. Prende il nome probabilmente da una cappella situata nei pressi e venne costruita su un preesistente fortilizio datato prima metà del XIV secolo. L'attuale fu realizzata secondo il progetto architettonico di Nanni Unghero per volere di Cosimo I de' Medici durante nella politica di potenziamento delle fortezze, segno visibile e tangibile del potere militare della casata. La struttura si presenta a pianta quadrilatera, bastionata da possenti mura in mattoni rossi, propria dell'edilizia militare del Granducato di Toscana. Il suo aspetto odierno non cambia di molto dalle sue antiche origini, grazie al fatto che il solo assedio a cui dovete far fronte fu nella seconda metà del Seicento durante il conflitto con le truppe pontificie nel cosiddetto 'assalto dei Barberini', di papa Urbano VIII, il cui vero nome era Maffeo Barberini (si conservano numerose testimonianze iconografiche dell'episodio tra cui un'opera attribuita ad Alessio Gimignani custodita nel Museo Civico di Pistoia). Il conflitto contrapponeva Ferdinando II, granduca di Toscana, al papa Urbano VIII e alla famiglia dei Barberini, che avevano occupato l'antico ducato di Castro e Ronciglione, retto dai Farnese. Nel Settecento, avendo perduto la funzione militare, la fortezza venne dapprima assunta a ruolo di caserma e quindi di carcere.



Fortress of Santa Barbara of Pistoia

Piazza della Resistenza
Area: just outside the historic centre and to the right of the central railway station of Pistoia
Tel: +39 0573 0573 24212

Fortezza di Santa Barbara a PistoiaThe fortress of Santa Barbara is part of the ancient walls of Pistoia, which today remain in a short urban stretch of the city, including the present. At one time and in later times the city was surrounded by three curtains of walls, the first of which was completed towards the far eighth century. The last circle, now recognizable between the avenues Matteotti and Arcadia, was raised after the conquest of Pistoia by the Florentines in 1306. It probably takes its name from a chapel located near it and was built on a pre-existing fortress dating from the first half of the fourteenth century. The present one was built according to the architectural project of Nanni Unghero at the behest of Cosimo I de' Medici during the policy of strengthening the fortresses, a visible and tangible sign of the military power of the family. The structure has a quadrilateral plan, bastioned by powerful walls in red brick, typical of the military building of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Its present-day appearance does not change much from its ancient origins, thanks to the fact that the only siege you have to face was in the second half of the seventeenth century during the conflict with the pontifical troops in the so-called' assault of Barberini', by Pope Urban VIII, whose real name was Maffeo Barberini (numerous iconographic testimonies of the episode, including a work attributed to Alessio Gimignani are kept in the Civic Museum of Pistoia). The conflict contrasted Ferdinand II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, with Pope Urban VIII and the Barberini family, who had occupied the ancient Duchy of Castro and Ronciglione, ruled by the Farnese family. In the eighteenth century, having lost its military function, the fortress was first taken on as a barracks and then as a prison.



Palazzo Fabroni e Museo Fernando Melani

Via Sant'Andrea, 18

Area: centro storico

Tel: +39 0573 371611 (per prenotazioni +39 0573 371296)


PalazzoFabroni e Museo Fernando Melani - PistoiaPalazzo Fabroni viene edificato intorno al XIV secolo, anno della sua costruzione, come proprietà dei Dondori, famiglia nota nella Pistoia medievale. L'attuale è il risultato di una profonda ristrutturazione voluta da una seconda famiglia, i Fabroni, che ne acquistarono la proprietà durante il XVII secolo e che la conservarono fino alla metà del XIX secolo, fino a quando non venne poi acquista dal comune di Pistoia. Oggi il palazzo è parte di un percorso artistico d'arte contemporanea tra i più Palazzi Fabroni e Museo Fernando Melani - Pistoiaimportanti in città, in un misto omogeneo che accoglie stili e arredi nobiliari d'epoca con forme fluide di arti appartenenti a tempi più recenti. Il secondo piano del Palazzo si presta ad ospitare la collezione permanente di arte contemporanea con opere di Melani, Ruffi, Buscioni, Kounellis, Ranaldi, Fabro, Bassiri, Garutti, Messina, Pirri, Nunzio, Tirelli, Barni, Nigro e Nativi. All'interno del palazzo ha inoltre sede la Casa Studio Fernando Melani (1907-1985), che fu dimora dell'artista per oltre 40 anni e che oggi si presenta come un percorso artistico sorprendente: 148 opere che raccontano l'arte di Melani attraverso oggetti e materiali singolari, rivolgendo l'attenzione alla sua geniale intuizione, conoscenza fisica ed espressione artistica.




Marino Marini Foundation
corso S. Fedi, 30
Area: Centre
Tel: +39 0573 30285

Fondazione Marino Marini - PistoiaMarino Marini was an artist from Pistoia, born in 1901, one of the most expressive sculptors in Italy. The documentation center houses an important collection of the artist, including paintings and sculptures and thematic paths that allow the visitor to learn about art and its expressions. You will be able to visit, for example, the corridor of female nudes, inspired by the goddess of Etruscan fertility Pomona, a figure on which the Fondazione Marino Marini - PistoiaMarini has concentrated much of his expressive art. Then there are the horses of Marini, the strongest symbols of his art. Famous in the city is its' Miracle', located in the inner courtyard of the Town Hall of Pistoia. Several other cities in Italy and Europe host art trails dedicated to him, including the Marino Marini Museum in Florence (Piazza San Pancrazio).



Puccini Park of Pistoia

Parco Puccini di PistoiaThe Puccini park  unfortunately appears today as a small green corner of the center of Pistoia, which however has lost the charm originally attributed to it. The family of Niccolò Puccini realized it in the first half of the nineteenth century, in the plot in which Tommaso, his father, had previously built the so-called' Villone', a villa built with the earnings derived from the profession of doctor. The garden was developed to accommodate several buildings, which made it really unique: the Pantheon to the Illustrious Men, the Temple in Pythagoras and to follow other buildings dedicated to science, industry, or sculptures representing important men such as Dante, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei or Carlo Linneo, all with the aim of enhancing the historical, cultural and scientific progress in Italy. The park is also linked to Filippo Pacini, the scientist from Pistoia, who recognizes the identification of the cholera vibrion and tactile corpuscles, which in the villa could conduct the first anatomical and histological research, thanks to a microscope donated by Puccini himself. When Niccolò died, the park was split up and decayed; today it is still possible to find the' medieval castle' building with its crenellated tower and other buildings which, however, have been allocated to another role. Inside the park there is the Pistoia Music School and the Italian Academy for organ music.... Read on the Puccini Park in Pistoia.


Via del Villone
Area: Centre





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