Pistoia: what to see, where to eat and what to do in the evening

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Capital of Italian culture in 2017, Pistoia is a Tuscan municipality located in the northern part of the region, not too far from Florence and Prato (the three cities are in fact part of an alluvial plain that extends into the territories adjacent to them). Occupied since Roman times, Pistoia is rich in buildings and testimonies dating back to that period, as well as belonging to the golden years of the Renaissance, right here among other things one of the most evocative Renaissance squares in all of Italy, Piazza del Duomo.
Here's what to see, where to eat and what to do in the evening in Pistoia.


  1. 10 things to see in Pistoia in a weekend
  2. What to see in Pistoia in one day: recommended itinerary
  3. Where to eat in Pistoia: the best restaurants
  4. What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Pistoia
  5. Plan your stay in Pistoia: info and useful tips
  6. User questions and comments

10 things to see in Pistoia in a weekend

1 - Cathedral of San Zeno

Main place of worship in Pistoia, the Cathedral of San Zeno it is located in the heart of the historic city center, easily identifiable thanks to the Romanesque façade and the presence of the beautiful bell tower. Once dedicated to San Martino, under the Longobard domination it was decided to dedicate the cathedral to San Zeno, the eighth bishop of Rome. Inside, the structure has three naves (one central and two side) with the raised presbytery and the crypt (in which capitals and marble slabs dating back to the origin of the building were found). Among the different chapels that are worth visiting, we point out that of the Crucifix, which houses the precious altar of San Jacopo made of silver, and the Chapel of the Last Judgment.

  • from the municipality it takes less than a minute on foot, since both are located in the same square, a short distance from each other. From the station instead it takes about ten minutes passing through via XX Settembre - Get directions
  • every day, from 10:30 to 18:00.
  • access to the Cathedral is free, access to the bell tower costs € 7,00 per person.
  • Pistoia 2,5 hour private walking tour with local guide

2 - Piazza del Duomo

The Piazza del Duomo in Pistoia deserves a separate presentation: it is in fact nothing less than one of the most famous Renaissance squares of all our boot, as well as the real heart of the city overlooked by the most important buildings (including the Cathedral of San Zeno itself, but also the Municipality and the Palazzo del Tribunale). The square has a very particular geometric shape, specifically designed to create an optical effect able to make the space seem even larger: the idea was in fact to amaze visitors who, arriving in the square via the picturesque Via degli Orafi, suddenly found themselves in front of the imposing bell tower and immediately next to the majestic Cathedral .

  • from the station it takes less than 10 minutes. However, make sure to enter the square through the Via degli Orafi, in order to experience the optical effect we talked about above - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

3 - Baptistery of San Giovanni

The nearby Baptistery of San Giovanni would also deserve a quick visit: so named in honor of an ancient Lombard church which it took over from 1301 (the year in which construction work began), the Baptistery has an octagonal plan, surmounted by a dome, while the exteriors are made of white and green marble. Inside the structure is accessed through three portals finely decorated with bas-reliefs and capitals, which makes the Baptistery, according to many art experts, one of the greatest examples of Tuscan Gothic. In the surroundings of the building, in medieval times, a weekly open-air market was held.

  • from the station follow the directions for Piazza del Duomo. The Baptistery is located right in front of the Cathedral - Get directions
  • every day, from 10:30 to 18:00
  • Free

4 - Tower of Catilina

If you are interested in taking some nice pictures of Pistoia or if you simply want to observe the square from a different perspective, we recommend that you head towards the Tower of Catilina. It is one of the oldest towers in the city, so called because, according to a legend that has never been proved, the Roman politician Lucio Catilina was buried under its foundations. The tower is entirely made of stone and is about 30 meters high: from its top (on the roof a wonderful terrace-belvedere), it is possible to admire a beautiful view over the whole square and a good part of the surrounding urban fabric.

  • from the station follow the directions for Piazza del Duomo. It is just a few meters from the Town Hall - Get directions
  • temporarily the tower is not accessible, but it is possible to enjoy its exterior
  • free

5 - Piazza della Sala

In addition to Piazza Duomo, another very famous and popular square in the city is Piazza della Sala: smaller and more secluded, it was once the place used to host the daily vegetable market, also along its perimeter there were artisan shops. In the center of the square, however, the Pozzo del Leoncino is one of the main symbols of the city: it was used only until the mid-fifteenth century, when it was decided for hygienic reasons to prohibit both the slaughter of meat in the open air and the use of the public well. By now in the evening, this has become the area par excellence for nightlife, which attracts locals and non-locals.

  • from the train station follow via XX Settembre and then turn into via Atto Vannucci, in 8 minutes you will be at your destination. From the Municipality, instead, go straight on along via della Provvidenza, to turn onto via dei Buti and arrive in the square in about 4 minutes on foot - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • Free

6 - Basilica of the Madonna of Humility

Founded in 1495 on the foundations of the Church of Santa Maria Forisportam, the Basilica of the Madonna dell'Umiltà is perhaps the most important religious building in the city, immediately after the Cathedral. Located at the gates of the first walls of Pistoia, it is well recognizable for the sixteenth-century dome (third in Italy in size) which dominates the entire urban fabric from its 60 meters high and which was built by none other than the great Giorgio Vasari. Inside, the Treasure of the Madonna is also kept, or a set of sacred furnishings made of gold and silver, but also ex-votos of great artistic and social value, embroidery and lace, etc.

  • moving on foot, from the city it takes only 2 minutes to reach the Basilica by proceeding along via degli Scalzi. From the station instead it takes 10 minutes proceeding in the direction of Piazza del Duomo and then along via dell'Ospizio - Get directions
  • every day, from 8:45 to 18:00
  • Free

7 - Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas

Also known as the Church of San Giovanni l'Evangelista, it is an important complex of Romanesque origin located in the center of Pistoia. Built between 1100 and 1340 approximately, this building is quite eye-catching due to the external decorations in white and green marble vaguely reminiscent of those present on the external façade of the Baptistery. Inside, you can admire some sculptures of great beauty such as the Pergamum by Guglielmo da Pisa, but also the Visitation by Luca della Robbia (in glazed terracotta). The cloister dating back to the thirteenth century.

  • starting from the Municipality it is necessary to proceed straight along via della Provvidenza for about 3 minutes. From the station, instead, proceed along via XX Settembre for about ten minutes and then turn right along via Francesco Crispi - Get directions
  • every day, from 7:30 to 12:00 and from 17:00 to 18:30
  • Free

8 - Marino Marini Museum

Among the most interesting museums in the city, we recommend the Marino Marini Museum dedicated to the famous artist of the forties, a native of Pistoia. Housed inside the Palazzo del Tau, the museum follows the artistic path of Marini, which is why it is mainly divided into four strands or themes located in different rooms: the Pomone (nude female figures, inspired by the goddess of fertility), the equestrian world , the world of the circus and theater, and portraits. Near the Museum, the Church of the Tau also houses some works by the artist (attention: it is open only in the morning), while a special area is dedicated to children with interactive activities and games.

  • from the Station on foot in just 5 minutes and 4 minutes from the Municipality - Get directions
  • from Tuesday to Saturday, from 11:00 to 18:00. On Sundays, however, from 14pm to 30pm
  • full € 6,00, reduced € 4,00. Free on Saturdays.

9 - Zoological Garden

Not too far from the city, it is located one of the main zoological structures in Italy: the Zoological Garden of Pistoia. Inside, more than 400 animals are hosted, including many endangered species, as well as many species of African origin (including elephants, lions, giraffes and penguins from South Africa). The main purpose of the park is not only to make entertainment, on the contrary: the Zoological Garden of Pistoia is involved in numerous projects to safeguard endangered species, as well as educational and research projects. If you want to take refuge in the green during your stay in the city and if you are an animal lover, this is the right place for you.

  • we advise you to use your car, leaving the city and following via di Montagnana you can reach your destination in less than 15 minutes - Get directions
  • every day, from 9:30 to 17:00 during the week, or from 9:30 to 18:00 at the weekend
  • full € 16,00, reduced € 12,00.

10 - Pistoia underground

Pistoia is a city that really knows how to surprise: one of the most hidden and interesting aspects of the urban fabric is the presence of underground passages that will allow you to retrace some of the most important areas of the city by walking in narrow underground passages. To explore underground Pistoia you will have to head towards the courtyard of the Vecchio Ospedale del Ceppo: it is precisely through an internal access to the structure that it will be possible to descend into the underground following a path on which the Brana stream once flowed. It is about an adventurous and at times disturbing experience which, however, is really worth doing if you want to experience the city in an unusual way.

  • from the Station they separate you less than 20 minutes, from the Municipality instead less than a quarter of an hour following first via degli Orafi and then via Buonfanti - Get directions
  • every day, from 10:00 to 18:00.
  • full € 9,00, reduced € 7,00

What to see in Pistoia in one day: recommended itinerary

In Pistoia and its surroundings there are so many things to see and a weekend is actually too little from this point of view: for this reason, we have prepared a one day itinerary to discover most of the attractions that the city of Pistoia has to offer (mostly concentrated in the historic center), so as to leave you more free to wander around the surroundings the following day.

Morning: Our itinerary starts immediately heading near the Palazzo del Tau, which houses one of the most interesting museums in the city: the Marino Marini Museum. Before starting your visit to the museum rooms, however, stop for breakfast at the nearby Pasticceria Carmine (where we highly recommend tasting the Pistoia cremino). After a hearty breakfast, you can enter the museum, where you will be enchanted by the works of one of the most revolutionary artists of the 900th century. From here, continue straight towards Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas, very recognizable by the colors of the marble of the external facade. Then, reach the heart of the historic center: the beautiful Piazza del Duomo, don't miss a visit to the Cathedral town and neighbor Baptistery.

Afternoon: Since it is now lunchtime, it might be a good idea to stop and eat in one of the many places that arise near the square: what we recommend is the Locanda del Capitano del Popolo, which offers excellent quality of Mediterranean cuisine. After having refreshed, you have two options: either decide to take the car and reach the famous Zoo of Pistoia (only a quarter of an hour from the city), or continue the tour on foot reaching the mysterious Tower of Catilina (from which you can admire a splendid panorama). If you have chosen the second option, then continue towards the Vecchio Ospedale del Ceppo: organized tours start from the corridors of the old structure to explore the Underground Pistoia, an experience that, we are sure, will give you chills.

Sera: Since the activity takes most of the afternoon, we advise you to retrace your steps and, making a small detour along via degli Orafi, to reach the small Piazza della Sala, which at night becomes the center of the nightlife. If you are hungry, in the square you will find the I Salaioli restaurant, well known and appreciated for its Tuscan specialties. After dinner, stop in the square in one of the many bars that offer cocktails and / or glasses of wine at reasonable prices. Good evening!

One day itinerary at a glance

  1. Breakfast at Pasticceria Carmine - Get directions
  2. Marino Marini Museum - opening hours: from Tuesday to Saturday, from 11:00 to 18:00. On Sundays instead from 14 pm to 30 pm - ticket cost: full € 19 reduced € 30 (free on Saturdays)
  3. Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas - opening hours: every day, from 7.30 to 12.00 and from 17.00 to 18.30 - ticket price: free
  4. Piazza del Duomo - opening hours: always accessible - ticket price: free
  5. Cathedral of San Zeno - opening hours: every day, from 10.30 to 18.00 - ticket price: free (climbing the bell tower costs € 7,00)
  6. Baptistery - opening hours: every day, from 10.30 to 18.00 - ticket price: free
  7. Lunch at Locanda del Capitano del Popolo - Get directions
  8. Torre di Catilina - Get directions
  9. Giardino Zoologico - opening hours: every day, from 9.30 to 17.00 (during the week) or at 18.00 (on the weekend) - ticket price: full € 16,00 reduced € 12,00
  10. Pistoia underground - opening hours: every day, from 10.00 to 18.00 - ticket price: full € 9,00 reduced € 7,00
  11. Piazza della Sala - opening hours: always accessible - ticket price: free
  12. Dinner at I Salaioli - Get directions

Where to eat in Pistoia: the best restaurants

  1. The contemporary: Mediterranean cuisine, mostly fish, with options for vegetarians and celiacs and a welcoming environment
    Average price per person: € 25,00
    Address and contacts: via delle Sei Arcole, 28 (Get directions) / tel: (+39) 0573 453494
  2. Born Tired Enoteca: excellent wine bar with a wide choice of wines and alcoholic beverages, accompanied by chopping boards and rustic dishes
    Average price per person: € 20,00
    Address and contacts: via Pietro Bozzi, 7 (Get directions) / tel: (+39) 0573 25163
  3. Tuscan steak: restaurant suitable for lovers of meat and home cooking
    Average price per person: € 20,00
    Address and contacts: via Sant'Andrea, 30 (Get directions) / tel: (+39) 328 438 2056
  4. Locanda del Capitano del Popolo: rustic Mediterranean cuisine
    Average price per person: € 20,00
    Address and contacts: via di Stracceria, 5 (Get directions) / tel: (+39) 0573 24785
  5. The Salaioli: ideal place for an aperitif or a quick lunch based on Tuscan specialties
    Average price per person: € 15,00
    Address and contacts: Piazza della Sala, 19 (Get directions) / tel: (+39) 0573 20225

What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Pistoia

Despite being close to the most famous and popular city centers (including Florence and Prato), Pistoia knows how to defend itself in the context of nightlife, so much so that in recent years there has been a reversal of trend and it is not uncommon to meet Florentines and Prato in having an evening in the center of Pistoia. The main nightlife area is certainly the one around Piazza del Duomo and, in particular, the part of the old city nicknamed La Sala (for the small square behind Piazza Duomo). Here, among wine bars, pubs and clubs of all kinds the locals gather, but also tourists from outside, university students, etc. The alternatives are many, however we have selected three places that we consider truly unmissable and where you cannot miss a trip if you are in Pistoia in the evening, even more so during the weekend.

The best pubs, clubs and discos

  • Birricomio: a place for lovers of street food and burgers, with a wide selection of craft beers
    Address: via Fiorentina, 796 / c (Get directions)
  • The winery 4: place specializing in aperitifs, with a large selection of wines and craft beers
    Address: via del Lastrone, 4 (Get directions) / Facebook page
  • Five Tuscan Street Bar: cult place of the place, with live music on Saturdays and excellent cocktails
    Address: viale Matteotti, 33 (Get directions) / Facebook page

Plan your stay in Pistoia: info and useful tips

  • By car it is very easy from all major Italian cities, Florence (35km), Lucca (42km), Pisa (67km), Bologna (91km), Rome (306km). By train the main railway connections are guaranteed daily from / to the train stations of Bologna, Florence and Viareggio. By bus it is especially advisable if you are leaving from Florence or Viareggio using a Lazzi bus. The journey takes about an hour and the cost of the ticket is usually around € 3,00 / 4,00 per person. By plane, the closest airports to Pistoia are Florence or Pisa. From Florence it will then be necessary to reach the city by bus from the Lazzi bus lines or by rail; from Pisa, on the other hand, travel to Pistoia is guaranteed by bus connections with private companies.
  • Getting around: on foot is certainly the best method, since the city center is used as a pedestrian zone and many of the main attractions are located in the most central areas. That's why we advise you to leave your car behind and enjoy a nice walk through the streets of the historic center.
  • Where to park: as already mentioned, Pistoia is a city easily liveable by pedestrians, so we suggest you leave your car in the parking lot of the hotel or structure where you are staying and then move around the city on foot. However, if the hotel does not have a car park, we have selected some free solutions scattered around the city, Cellini Parking, served by the Park & ​​bus lines (Get directions); Parking of the Stadium, also served by the Park & ​​bus lines (Get directions); Pertini 2 Parking (Get directions); Library-University Parking (Get Directions).
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 30,00 per room -
  • What to see in the surroundings: Florence (44km), Prato (26km), Viareggio (70km), Lucca (50km), Montecatini Terme (17km), Pisa (60km), Livorno (88km), Forte dei Marmi (77km), Massa (88km), Empoli (36km), Apuan Alps Park (100km)

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