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Visita il Mugello, culla dei Medici, a due passi da Firenze e le bellezze toscane

Visiting Tuscany




Pistoia lies at the far end of the uninterrupted strip of urban settlement that stretches all the way from Firenze. Closed off to the north by the Appennine range (the mountains of the Pistoiese where Abetone is situated) and to the west by Monte Albano, the city has maintained a good balance between recent development and its historic roots.
The extensive walls of the old city, which are still basically intact, were built in the first half of the 1300s and subsequently fortified by the Medici. The high point of the city's history was the period of the comune in the 13th century, when the bankers of Pistoia lent money as far afield as France, and the city was in a phase of rapid expansion.
Some of the large Romanesque constructions had already been begun the century before, and at the end of the 1300s work started on the Palazzo del Comune. However, this expansion was hampered in one direction by Lucca and in the other by Firenze, who joined forces to conquer the city at the beginning of the 14th century.

The city went into a protracted period of economic and political decline that continued in the following centuries, effectively relegating the city to an extremely marginal role.
It's only relatively recently, with considerable industrial and artisan development, that the city has expanded, becoming internationally important for its production of plants and flowers, with nurseries springing up in various parts of the province.
If on the one hand the absence of development has inhibited urban vitality, on the other hand it does mean that today we can see many historically-interesting sights in Pistoia.

The long period of Florentine dominance over Pistoia has probably played a part in stifling culinary differentiation, because it is in fact very similar to Florentine cooking. There are, however, some distinctive dishes. Biroldo is a kind of blood pudding which can either be sweet (made from pig's blood, pine nuts, and sultanas) or savoury (calf's blood mixed with salami and cheese.
If the sights of the city itself are not enough for you, you could try visiting towards the end of July, when the Giostra dell'Orso, the 'Joust of the Bear', is held. This involves a procession in costume and a horse-riding competition.

Picture by Sandro Santioli

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