This year Pistoia has been named Italian Capital of Culture 2017. So I decided to visit Pistoia and see its principal points of interest. Pistoia is located at 40 km from Florence, on the way to Lucca. Often this city is omitted by the traditional tour made for a first visit of the Tuscany, but if you have some time I suggest you to visit Pistoia. This city in fact, has positively surprised me, even because it remembered me Florence. It’s easy arrive to Pistoia from Florence, either by car (thanks to free and easy parking, near the historical center) or by train with the handy station.
I started my tour by the east side of the city, from the Fortress of Santa Barbara.
Builded in sixteenth century by will of Cosimo I de’ Medici, it has been unarmed in 1774 and then it was used like barrack, military prison and district. In this fortress the Germans, while the nazi occupation, executed four young Pistoia’s citizens. Located in the southeast corner of the city walls, the Fortress of Santa Barbara has a quadrilateral rampart plan with powerful walls made of brick. Definitely a beautiful work, but not much valorized.
Entered within city walls, we can say to be inside historical center of Pistoia.
Walking among alleys of the center towards the Cathedral, we can see the first points of interest, like the San Giovanni Evangelist Church.
At this Church it has attributed the appellation “Fuoricivitas”, because originally this Church was outside of the first circle of the city walls (small clarification to understand this step: Pistoia to separate the city by the surrounding countryside, has builded the famous city walls. Over time, with the expansion of the city, also expanded the city walls, switching three different levels and three different circle of city walls. The first dates back to the Romans, the second to the feudalism, and the third at 1400-1500). The Church, made according with the canons of the Romanesque architecture, is presented as a complex, richly decorated with colored marble. The facade and the apse side of the church are poorly visible, because of the buildings that nearly touch the factory, for this it’s the north side to be always considered the real facade. The proof is the richness of the decorations that characterize this side: blind arches and two orders of loggias, with a central arch and the lintel carved from Gruamonte master showing the scenes of the Last Supper. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to see the interior since the church was closed.
In front of the Church, it’s located a beautiful stately home, decorated with a series of coats of arms. This building is very particular, beacause it seems to be the union of two distinct palaces, then joined together at a later time. I tried to do some research on internet but I could not find out anything about this building.
Going to the cathedral of Pistoia, you have to go to Piazza della Sala. Called by the people “La Sala”, this square hosts the daily market of food and you overlook wine bars and restaurants perfect for a break full of taste.
To enrich the square there is the well of the lion marble and bronze sculpture installed in 1996 called the “Sun Day”, which shows three guys blindfolded that start from the same point and heading towards several centers (the work recalls the triptych of tales in prose of Massimo Bontempelli in which the protagonists are forced to travel following the course of the sun).
Continuing at this point you can go to Piazza del Duomo, certainly the most interesting part of Pistoia, where the most important buildings of the city are collected. The square is impressive and you will get caught by the Bell Tower of the Cathedral and the Baptistry.
At this point I would say to interrupt us here, and resume the next time with the presentation of this beautiful square and the rest of the tour.
Good light to everyone.