Pistoia

Pistoia: discover an enchanting Tuscan town with an ancient history and a vibrant contemporary cultural scene.

Pistoia is town that lies in Italy’s famous Tuscany region, around 30km northwest of Florence. It is very popular amongst tourists that visit the region, and in 2017 was the Italian Capital of Culture.

It has been a significant town for many centuries. In fact, it was a significant center for Gallic, Ligurian and Etruscan populations many centuries before the Romans. The latter civilisation colonised the town in the 6th Century BC, under the name of Pistorium. This was to become a stop on the important Via Cassia, meaning it saw many different people pass through its streets over the years.

Today, however, it is famous for something quite different. Here and in the surrounding area, you will find many plant nurseries that one generation has passed down to the next for centuries. The tradition of the flower trade is still very strong and present in day to day life, and Pistoia has a delightful flower market where you can buy some of these celebrated plants yourself. On a slightly different note, Pistoia is also thought to be the namesake of the pistol, given that such guns started to be manufactured here in the 16th Century.

Pistoia has much more to offer. In winter, you can even go skiing from here, with resorts and ski areas such as Abetone and Val di Luce lying within the Pistoia mountains. In addition to this, Pistoia is one of the corner points of the newly-emerging Tuscan Chocolate Valley. As such, you will find many artisan chocolate shops where chocolatiers hone their craft to a fine art. Unlike the traditional chocolate centers of Turin and Perugia, the chocolate here is more experimental in its flavors.

This town also has much to offer in terms of contemporary culture. For example, you can visit the beautiful Fattoria di Celle, an outdoor sculpture park. Alternatively, visiting in July you can enjoy the Pistoia Blues Festival with many live performances and concerts. Interestingly, the same month sees the ancient Giostra dell’Orso take place. This now-faux joust is put on in honor of the patron saint of Pistoia, St Jacob.

For a relaxing break from sightseeing, you can also visit the nearby thermal springs. For example, at Montecatini and Monsummano baths you can relax in naturally warm waters as well as enjoy spa treatments and retreats. These waters are known for their health-boosting properties. Moreover, nobility and royalty have loved these facilities, and today many celebrities come here to unwind and recharge.

You can easily reach Pistoia by train, car or bus. The nearest airports include Florence and Pisa, from which you will also be able to find such connections.