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What to See and Do

What to See and Do

Most of the beauties are aournd the main square. For example, there is the Pisan Romanesque Cattedrale di San Zeno (Picture 2) (tel. 0573 2 50 95, open 8.30am-12.30 and 3.30-7pm). Its façade features Andrea della Robbia’s Madonna and Child between two Angels. Note the exquisite silver altarpiece of Saint James. Brunelleschi was in charge of finishing this work which had been started 200 years earlier. Today it is housed in the dark Cappella di San Jacopo near the northern aisle.
The Museo Rospigliosi e Museo Diocesano (guided tours: 10 and 11.30am and 3pm on Mon, Wed and Fri) is by the cathedral. The museum houses items found during restoration of the building which was originally the bishop´s palace. The Casa di Risparmio di Pistoia e Pescia was in charge the restoration and also owns the museum. The museum also displays  artefacts belonging to the cathedral such as one of Saint James´ bones, bones of his mother and the pelvic bones of Virgin Mary contained in a reliquary created by Lorenzo Ghiberti in the 1400s.
The baptistry dating from the 1300s is also on Piazza del Duomo, striped with white and green marble designed by Andrea Pisano. An ornate marble font and dome are the main attraction in an interior simply constructed in red brick.
The Palazzo Comunale in Gothic style, also near the same square, houses the Museo Civico (tel. 0573 37 12 96; www.comune.pistoia.it/museocivico; open 10am-5 or 6pm Tue and Thu-Sat, 3-6 or 7pm Wed, 11am-5 or 6om Sun). This museum displays pieces by artists from Tuscany ranging from the 13th to 20th century. An unmissable  highlight is the Madonna della Pergola by Bernardino di Antonio Detti (end of 15th century) depicting Saint James, the Virgin and Baby Jesus.
The Ospedale del Ceppo (Picture 1), on Piazza Giovanni XXIII, has a haunting portico which is embellished with Giovanni della Robbia’s frieze in painted terracotta (16th century). The frieze represents the Seven Works of Mercy and the medallions depict the Theological Virtues.
The Chiesa di San Andrea (tel. 0573 2 19 12; on the street of the same name, (open 8.30am-12.30pm and 3-6pm) was located outside the town walls, which accounts for its lack of windows. The relief of the Adoration of the Magi (12th century) adds to the attractive façade. Inside there is a precious marble pulpit whose creator was Giovanni Pisano (1298-1301).

The Museum and Art Gallery Centro Documentazione e Fondazione Marino Marini (tel. 0573 02 85, www.fondazionemarinomarini.it, Corso Silvano Fedi; open 10am-5pm closed Sun) is dedicated to the artist born in Pistoia which the museum was named after.
There are tickets available at the tourist information office which include admission to the three museums already mentioned: the Museo Civico, the Museo Rospigliosi e Museo Diocesano and the Centro Documentazione e Fondazione Marino Marini. The ticket is also sold at the sites themselves and is very good value for money.

Just 5 km from Pistoia is the Fattoria di Celle (tel. 0573 47 94 86/0573 47 99 07; www.goricoll.it; via montalese 7 in santomanto di Pistoia, open only upon reservatios in advance Mon-Fri May-Sep), an estate which has its own tea house, aviary and 70 art installations from the owner´s private collection.  The works on display in the park are pieces created by the most renowned contemporary artists.
The market takes place in town in the most important square, Piazza del Duomo, and the surrounding street. From Monday to Saturday the fresh produce market is held in Piazza della Sala.

Pistoia becomes truly lively on 25th July when, to honour San Giacomo, its patron saint, the colourful medieval Giostra dell‘Orso is celebrated annually. The festival involves equestrian events and re-enactments of jousts to entertain participants.
The tourist information office is off Piazza della Sala (tel. 0573 2 16 22; www.pistoia.turismo.toscana.it; open 9am-1pm and 3-6pm). Its staff are very resourceful and the office is well organized.