Pistoia: In Pictures, City of Life on the North West Tuscan Way, Tour 23

Curvilinear Marble Sculpture

p r e s e n t s

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Pistoia Big Map 1 Google Earth

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Pistoia Big Map 2 Google Earth

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Pistoia Map 3 Google Earth

North West Tuscany for the Independent Tourist

IN PICTURES

Pistoia, Tuscany, Italy

Tour 23: Pistoia, Tuscan City of Life

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Before we get underway with today’s tour I feel that I must confess to having actually spent scant time in Pistoia, but lucky me, as it turned out my visit was to coincide with one of the most colorful, lively, youthful and vocal festivals I can ever recall. After that one glorious day I actually found myself reluctant to return and dilute such wonderful memories.    Pistoia, Tuscany, ItalyHad I returned, as I really ought to have done, I would no doubt have climbed to the top of their quite extraordinary tower… explored a few more ancient churches, probed a few more galleries, but in direct contrast the global tourist powerhouses of nearby Florence, and perhaps even Lucca, Pistoia’s wonderful cultural and historic treasures may be viewed in grand, spacious luxury.    Not that you won’t encounter crowds, you most certainly will – teems of them, but this particular throng is comprised almost exclusively of busy locals shopping the market with a vigor and intensity seldom displayed.   Pistoia, Tuscany, ItalyLittle did I know at the time that the regular Saturday market was being curtailed early in order to facilitate a fiesta.   Never have I seen such frenzied and determined buying, and on such a scale;  no one shopped like that on the markets of my youth, and they certainly don’t here in the Roaring Fork Valley.    But there you go… that’s how to run a market!     I later speculated that many of the fervid shoppers themselves perhaps owned a tiny shop, maybe up in the hills.  A romantic notion I concede, but I had noticed these little ma and daughter clothes shops in practically every community, no matter how tiny.  But I digress.   On arrival in Pistoia I had absolutely no idea what I would discover.  Not one word had I read about the place,  no guidebook bear my scribbled notes.   I simply caught the train over from Lucca one bright and cheerful Saturday morning – very early as I recall, and as I wandered out from the station I immediately picked up on a most lively sensation: it was audible in the air.  Children – lots of them; the older ones in knotted lively clusters, and the younger ones loosely shepherded by chattering adults.  It was a beautiful and quite chaotic scene.   Making my way into town it soon became clear that every street was jam packed with people, and lined either side with market stalls.  Pistoia, Tuscany, ItalyThe cathedral, museum and galleries however remained practically empty as the locals went about their busy business.   Not included today unfortunately is the wonderful, largely subterranean museum located alongside the ‘new’ church. What we are missing is a superb 90 minute guided tour taking us back two thousand years, to the very origins of Christianity, to the Romans and beyond. But as cameras are strictly forboden we move directly on to the new church next door, where another time warp awaits to transport us back to medieval times: a bas relief that cuts through hundreds of years of classroom culture to reveal that, well, everything changes, but nothing really does, does it?   There surely can be no doubting Pistoia’s zest for life.  It most certainly values it’s artists and craftsmen.  Pistoia, Tuscany, Italy Clearly art and culture not only mean a lot to the good citizens of Pistoia, but this most fortunate state of affairs would seems to always have been the case.   Though noticeable by its absence from the history books –  I recall no huge battles, or ‘battle of Pistoia’, for instance – the festival of brightly decked children; the meticulous preservation; busy market stalls; and ancient carvings all readily testify: Pistoia would seem to take great delight in celebrating the joy of life.

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For those following the tour in the literal sense I think it safe to say that a spontaneous festival of children is unlikely to erupt withing the duration of your visit, but I would suggest you visit the town on a Saturday, that way you too will find yourself swept upon a wave of humanity as you wade your way through the crowded streets.  You may even find yourself a slew of bargains as the market seems practically endless, and the traders more than ready to trade.  But as far as crowds go, once you step into the cathedral, or climb the tower, or explore anyone of the marvelous old curiosities to be found in the way of galleries, museums or the like… well, you practically have them to yourself, as the locals are far too preoccupied with the market: and fellow tourists? What fellow tourists?   If you are really lucky, as was I,  you might just find yourself signed up for your own private museum tour. But however you spend your time in this wonderfully lively little town I am sure you will have a ball.  The locals are as friendly as can be, and the food  as you may well imagine is quite superb.  So eat, drink and take it easy,  for tomorrow we’re to explore Lucca, and that is going to take some effort, for Lucca, lovely Lucca, must be hiked and biked in order to be fully enjoyed.   After Lucca we head over to Pisa for one last waltz around town…  through the cathedral… around the baptistery, and so reaching the conclusion of my North West Tuscan Way.

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Rogue Carver on the Loose in Italy: To read the account of Pistoia Please Click Here: “I travel not to see new things but to see things anew” As I enter the final week of my three month Tuscan Adventure I find to my surprise that I am looking back on the trip as if it already belonged to my past. I ponder as to just what all this was about and why it turned out the way it did, after all I came here, to Italy, to the ‘home of sculpture’ to carve marble… Cararra marble to be precise, and yet here I am, wandering Tuscany like a nomad, following the slightest whim here there and everywhere, enjoying the pure unadulterated joy of slipping the leash and roaming to my heart’s content…more

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and now

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next

The North West Tuscan Way: In Pictures

Spigot Face, Within the Walls, Lucca, Italy

Tour 24: Lucca, Within the Walls

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