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Tuscany is famous for art cities such as Florence, Pisa and Siena, but it is also home to plenty of lesser known towns which deserve to be discovered. Pistoia is one of them. Just 30 minutes from Florence, it is the ideal location to spend some time away from the crowds of the Tuscan capital city. Here’s 11 reasons why you need to visit Pistoia.
Last January Pistoia was voted Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2017. Why? It is a hidden gem which offers visitors plenty of delightful experiences, beautiful architecture, medieval churches, futuristic libraries and great gastronomy. No doubt that Pistoia deserved the award.
Differently from neighbouring towns, Pistoia is not a typical touristic destination. The town holds plenty of architectural gems, but is often overlooked by tourists. Unlike other Italian towns, here you’ll not find hordes of people, lines and crowds in front of the churches and palaces, so you can easily visit them and enjoy every minute of your tour.
One of the best reasons to visit Pistoia is the range of activities that it offers travellers. The most important cultural spot to visit is Piazza Del Duomo – the main square of the town where you’ll find the cathedral, baptistery and Palazzo Comunale. If you have time, visit all these monuments, just to learn more about the ancient history of the city.
Tuscany is a great gastronomy destination. In the city centre of Pistoia you can easily find good restaurants which offer typical Tuscan dishes, such as bistecca alla fiorentina, ribollita soup, pappa al pomodoro, and crostini.
Pistoia Blues Festival is the biggest music festival in Tuscany which takes place every summer in the spectacular Piazza del Duomo. Over the last few years many international artists played on the stage, such as Damien Rice, Bastille, Mumford & Sons, and the Arctic Monkeys.
Beside the Blues Festival, Pistoia also hosts a lot of cultural events throughout the year. One of the most important is Dialoghi Sull’Uomo (dialogues of man), a philosophy festival which takes place every spring.
Don’t forget to do the underground tour of Ospedale del Ceppo. In the 13th century a large number of the Tuscan population was afflicted by the Black Death and the hospital needed to expand. The only way was to built a subterranean passage: the inhabitants diverted the nearby river below ground and created the tunnel.
One of the most famous zoological gardens in Italy is located just outside Pistoia. If you are travelling with kids, this zoo is a must-see spot.
If you want to have fun, Pistoia will not disappoint you. For a cool aperitivo go to Piazza della Sala, a picturesque square which in ancient times was the main hub of commerce in town. Many restaurants and bars opened here and today it is the most frequented area of Pistoia. Every morning there is a food market where vendors sell local products.
Pistoia is a very popular destination for skiing enthusiasts. Near the town there is Abetone, a village frequented by skiers in winter and by trekkers in spring and summer.
Pistoia is also called Italy’s ‘city of green’ because of all the greenhouses surrounding the city. In these live several kinds of plants and flowers exported all over the world to decorate prestigious villas, gardens and parked in Europe and overseas.