Located in Tuscany, at the foot of the Apennines, Pistoia holds around one hundred thousand inhabitants. Nevertheless, it represents a real gem for the peninsula. Even though the tourist activity is not comparable to the nearby cities of Florence and Pisa, thanks to the nomination of the “Italian Capital of Culture” in 2017, it attracts tourists from all over Europe. Going from the city centre, which houses wonderful works of art, to the parks around the city. There are so many things to see in Pistoia! Do you want to spend a cultural holiday away from mass tourism? Pistoia is the right green destination for you!

Panoramic view of the Pistoia plain from the Apennines
The plain of Pistoia seen from the Apennines, picture via Canva PRO

What to see in Pistoia and how to get there?

First of all, reaching Pistoia is very simple. Public transport and its proximity to Florence allow you to arrive there in about 45 minutes from the Tuscan capital. After that, moving around the city is very convenient. The main attractions are in fact all concentrated in the historic centre and can be reached with a simple walk. Some points of interest that you cannot miss are:

San Zeno Cathedral and Bell Tower

The cathedral and the tower bell of Pistoia
Picture by Makalu via Pixabay

It is a magnificent Romanesque building located in the centre of the city, overlooking Piazza Duomo. Although inside you can find a small relic of San Jacopo (a fragment of the skull), the cathedral is dedicated to San Zeno. Furthermore, both inside and outside, the cathedral is embellished by statues of San Zeno and San Jacopo, and the Crucifix by Coppo di Marcovaldo. After a visit to the cathedral, you will be able to enjoy a magnificent view from the Bell Tower. It measures 67 meters and there are 200 steps to climb, but the panorama once you reach the top will fully repay you for the effort made.

Spedale del ceppo

The façade of the Spedale del Ceppo
Spedale del Ceppo, picture via Canva PRO

Among the main attractions of Pistoia there is also a hospital! Founded in the thirteenth century, it is characterized by a remarkable frieze in glazed terracotta on the external façade. After having been in operation for about seven centuries, the health facility now houses the Museo dello Spedale. It traces the history of healthcare in Pistoia, with a collection of surgical instruments and historical documents on the lives of doctors.

Underground Pistoia

The attractions in Pistoia are not limited to the earth’s surface… but also under your feet! The Pistoia underground route extends for about 650 meters along the course of the ancient Brana stream. It will allow you to explore Pistoia’s history and can be accessed right from inside the Spedale del Ceppo

Natural parks not to be missed

Montuliveto Park, with some of the activities that you can try there. An example is yoga
Montuliveto Park, picture via Facebook

In addition to the cultural attractions, Pistoia stands out for the number of parks and green areas within the urban area. After a day spent visiting the historic centre, we suggest you spend some time in these natural areas, in order to relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere that the Pistoia Green parks can offer you.

In particular, the Montuliveto Park is a very pleasant green oasis in the centre of Pistoia. Here, in addition to easing the pressure lying on the grass of the park, you can also participate in the numerous cultural events and other activities organized within the park. There is also a cafeteria-restaurant where you can take a break immersed in the urban green area.

The Zoological Garden of Pistoia and some of the animals, like lions and penguins
Zoological Garden of Pistoia, picture via Canva PRO

Not to be forgotten is the marvellous Zoological Garden of Pistoia. Suitable for adults and children, it houses more than 400 animal species, placed in environments that resemble their natural habitat. The zoo will allow you to spend an unforgettable day, meeting Nature, including flora and fauna, and the king of the jungle and penguins.

Slow itineraries of Pistoia and the surrounding area

Bike itineraries in the wood
Bike itineraries, picture via Canva PRO

The city of Pistoia has a strong link with the culture of pilgrimage, as evidenced by both the historical documentation and the city’s monuments and works of art. The city centre, as already described, encourages movement on foot or by bicycle in the historic centre, also highlighted by the proximity of the various tourist attractions.

Itineraries in the wood
Picture via Canva PRO

On the other hand, if you want to venture into a more particular and demanding experience immersed in nature, the “Cammino di San Bartolomeo” is a perfect alternative. The route goes from Pistoia to Fiumalbo and measures about 100 km. The itinerary allows to walk through the luxuriant woos where silence reigns and nature is sovereign. This route also allows, given its length and the fact that it crosses different areas of Central Italy, to savour the tasty dishes and both Pistoia and Modena traditions.

What can you eat in Pistoia?

To explore Pistoia does not mean only visiting the art and history through historic monuments. Gastronomy plays a fundamental role in traveller’s holiday, and is one of the main characteristics that he will remember with pleasure. In fact, Pistoia has a lot to offer, also from a green point of view.

Sorana bean, typical of the area of Pistoia
Sorana bean, picture via Canva PRO

Oil and wine, especially in the area of Montalbano, represent two specialties, meeting the expectations of those who visit this part of Tuscany. The Sorana bean, awarded with the Slow Food Presidium, is a fruit grown in the locality of Pescia. The legume has a very light color and a thin skin, perfect to prepare “fagioli al fiasco“.

A typical dish of the Pistoia tradition is “il carcerato”. It is a soup made with stale bread, veal entrails and a sprinkling of cheese. The particular name (literally “the prisoner”) derives from the fact that it was once a classic dish cooked for prisoners. Another dish of the poor cuisine, which cannot be missed if you visit Pistoia, is “farinata con le leghe” (that is strips of black cabbage, a vegetable that resists even frost and can therefore be used in winter).

Dulcis in fundo, Pistoia also has a great variety of desserts. For example, chestnut flour is used as a base for various dishes. Or sugared almonds, particularly for their thorny shape, called by Pistoians themselves “birignoccoluta”. The local tradition of sweets has not neglected chocolate lovers. We suggest you visit the workshops of some world-famous master chocolatiers, such as Roberto Catinari and the Slitti family,

Where to sleep green in Pistoia?

Eco-friendly farmhouse La Romagnana

The farmhouse la Romagnana, with a view on the hills and of the pool
Farmhouse “La Romagnana”

The farmhouse “La Romagnana” is located just ten minutes from the centre of Pistoia and will allow you to immerse yourself in the greenery of Tuscany. It offers guests the thrill of living in the countryside, surrounded by olive trees, letting nature mark the times. In addition to being a perfect meeting point between the mountains and the sea of Versilia, La Romagnana offers you a place to disconnect from the world, while you relax by the pool or walk the old paths along the hills of this area.

The comfort of the farmhouse is combined with a commitment to environmental sustainability. In fact, organic food is served, waste sorting is practiced and solar panels are installed for hot water.

La Corte del Falco

Corte del Falco, a restored farmhouse typical of rural Tuscany, with flowers and a panoramic view on the hills.
Corte del Falco

La Corte del Falco consists of a restored farmhouse with ancient materials typical of rural Tuscany. The context in which it is immersed presents a combination of nature and vegetation, with olive trees, vineyards, and woods. The surroundings are ideal for taking long walks surrounded by the hilly nature, perhaps accompanied by your four-legged friends.

La Corte del Falco offers its guests a structure characterized by bio-architecture and the elimination of single doses, in order to combine convenience with awareness of wanting to reduce one’s ecological footprint.

By following our guide, you will be able to venture and discover Pistoia green. Whether with your friends or with your partner, explore nature and the wonderful tradition of Pistoia!