Pistoia  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Pistoia is a city and comune in the Tuscany region of Italy, the capital of a province of the same name, located about 30 km west and north of Florence and is crossed by the Ombrone Pistoiese, a tributary of the River Arno. It is a typical Italian medieval city, and it attracts many tourists, especially in the summer.

Contents

History

Pistoria (in Latin other possible spellings are Pistorium or Pistoriae) was centre of Gallic, Ligurian and Etruscan settlements before becoming a Roman colony in the 6th century BC, along the important road Via Cassia: in 62 BC the demagogue Catiline and his fellow conspirators were slain nearby. From the 5th century the city was a bishopric, and during the Lombardic kingdom it was a royal city and had several privileges. Pistoia's most splendid age began in 1177 when it proclaimed itself a free commune: in the following years it became an important political centre, erecting walls and several public and religious buildings.

In 1254 the Ghibelline Pistoia was taken over by Guelph Florence, but supposedly resulted in the division of the Guelphs into "Black" and "White" factions. Pistoia remained a Florentine holding except for a brief period in the 14th century, when Castruccio Castracani captured it for Lucca, and was officially annexed to Florence in 1530. During the 14th century Ormanno Tedici was one of the Lords of the city.

In 1786 a famous Jansenist episcopal synod was convened in Pistoia.

Dante mentioned in his Divina Commedia the free town of Pistoia as the home town of Vanni Fucci, who is encountered in Inferno tangled up in a knot of snakes while cursing God.

According to one theory, Pistoia lent its name to the pistol, which it started manufacturing in the 16th century. But today it is also notable for the extensive garden nurseries spreading around it. Consequently, Pistoia is also famous for its flower markets, as is the nearby Pescia.

Main sights

Although not as visited as other towns in Tuscany, mostly due to the industrial environs, Pistoia presents a well-preserved and charming medieval city inside the old walls.

Piazza del Duomo

The large Piazza del Duomo is lined with attractive original buildings as the Palazzo del Comune and the Palazzo del Podestà: it is the setting (in July) of the Giostra dell'Orso ("Bear Joust"), when the best horsemen of the districts of the town tilt with lances at a target held up by a dummy shaped like a bear.

The original Cathedral of San Zeno (5th century) burned down in 1108, but was rebuilt during the following century, and received incremental improvements until the 17th century. The façade has a prominent Romanesque style, while the interior received heavy Baroque additions which were removed during the 1960s. Its outstanding feature is the Altar of St James, an exemplar of the silversmith's craft begun in 1287 but not finished until the 15th century. Its various sections contain 628 figures, the total weighing nearly a ton. The Romanesque belfry, standing at some Template:Convert, was erected over an ancient Lombard tower.

In the square is also the 14th century Baptistry, in Gothic style, with white-green marble decorations.

The Palazzo dei Vescovi ("Bishops' Palace"), is characterized by a Gothic loggiato at the first floor. It is known from 1091, initially as a fortified noble residence. In the 12th century it received a more decorated appearance, with mullioned windows and frescoes, of which traces remain. It was later modified in the mid-12th (when the St. James Chapel, narrated by Dante Alighieri in the XXIV canto of his Inferno) and in the 13th century; to the latter restoration belongs the white marble-decorated staircase, one of the most ancient examples in Italy in civil architecture. In the 14th century the Chapel of St. Nicholas was decorated with stories of the namesake saint and of martyrs

The Tower of Catilina is from the High Middle Ages, and stands Template:Convert high.

Religious buildings

  • Basilica of Our Lady of Humility (Madonna dell'Umiltà) (1509), finished by Giorgio Vasari with a Template:Convert high cupola. The original project was by Giuliano da Sangallo, but works were begun in 1495 by Ventura Vitoni. The dome was commissioned by Cosimo I de' Medici to Vasari, the lantern begin completed in 1568 and the church consecrated in 1582. In the apse is a painting by Bernardino del Signoraccio (1493).
  • Santissima Annunziata, baroque church famous for its Chiostro dei Morti ("Dead's Cloister").
  • San Bartolomeo in Pantano (12th century).
  • San Giovanni Battista (15th century). Damaged during World War II bombardments, it is now used as an exhibition center.
  • San Giovanni Battista al Tempio (11th century), owned for a while by the Templar and then by the Hospitaller Knights.
  • San Benedetto (14th century, restored in 1630). It houses a 1390 Annunciation by Giovanni di Bartolomeo Cristiani, a 16th-century Forentine school St. Benedict with the Redeemer and, in the cloister, Histories of the Order of the Knights of St. Benedict by Giovan Battista Vanni (1660).
  • San Domenico.
  • Franciscan church of San Francesco (begun in 1289). It has an unfinished façade with bichrome marble decoration. It has frescoes with 'Histories of St. Francis in the main chapel and other 14th–15th centuries frescoes.
  • San Giovanni Fuoricivitas (12th–14th century) Romanesque church
  • San Leone, built in the 14th century but enlarged in the 16th–18th centuries. Its Baroque-Roccoco interior houses some notable canvasses by artists such as Giovanni Lanfranco, Stefano Marucelli and Vincenzo Meucci.
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie.
  • Santa Maria in Ripalta, mentioned from the 11th century. It houses a large Ascension fresco in the apse, attributed to Manfredino d'Alberto (1274).
  • San Paolo.
  • San Pier Maggiore.
  • Pieve di Sant'Andrea, housing Giovanni Pisano's Pulpit of St. Andrew.
  • Pieve of San Michele in Groppoli, ancient chapel in the neighbourhood of the city.
  • La Vergine.

Others

Transportation

Its station is located on the Viareggio–Florence railway and it is at the southern end of the Porrettana railway, the original line between Florence and Bologna.

Notable people

Frazioni

Badia a Pacciana, Baggio, Bargi, Barile, Bonelle, Bottegone, Campiglio, Germinaia, Canapale, Candeglia, Capostrada, Case Nuove di Masiano, Castagno di Piteccio, Chiazzano, Chiesina Montalese, Chiodo, Cignano, Cireglio, Collina, Corsini Bianchi, Corsini Neri, Fabbrica, Gello, Iano, Le Fornaci, Le Grazie, Le Piastre, Le Pozze, Le Querci, Lupicciano, Masiano, Masotti, Nespolo, Orsigna, Piazza, Piestro, Piteccio, Piuvica, Pontelungo, Pontenuovo, Pracchia, Pupigliana, Ramini, Sammommè, San Biagio, San Felice, San Rocco, Sant'Agostino, Sant'Alessio in Bigiano, Santomato, Saturnana, Spazzavento, Stazzana, Torbecchia, Valdibrana, Vicofaro, Villa di Baggio, Villanova di Valdibrana.


Events

  • Pistoia Blues, an international music festival held since 1980.
  • Giostra dell'Orso ("Joust of the Bear"), a ceremony that is mentioned even in a chronicle of 1300, when a dozen riders organized a ritual combat against a bear. Despite many changes, this traditional ceremony was staged every year until 1666, when the abandonment was recorded by the ritual celebration of the people. It was restarted in 1947, and takes place on July 25.


Sources





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