Photo of Pistoia

About Pistoia

At the foot of the snow-capped Apennines in a sea of terracotta roofs, Renaissance palaces and Romanesque churches stands Pistoia, the "little Florence" of Tuscany. The European City of Culture for 2017, Pistoia is a town steeped in elegance and history while still being remarkably free of the throngs of tourists that descend on Italy every year. Surrounding the town are plains, valleys and mountains, the region itself is renowned throughout the world for its cultivation of flowers, and Pistoia stands amid the "Tuscan Chocolate Valley", with a great many artisan chocolate-makers to its name. Our list of the best places to stay in Pistoia will enable you to make the most of this city which is full of fun as well as fascinating.

Abounding in vibrant markets for a town of her size, you are really spoilt for choice. Every Wednesday and Saturday the main square, Piazza del Duomo, is turned into a morning market, lined with colourful canopies and bustling with life. The square has been the epicentre of town life since the days when it was a Roman forum. The 67 meter high bell tower dominates the square, unchanged since the days of Dante, and if you're not scared of great heights it proves a wonderful viewing point for the city sweeping beneath you. The Piazza della Sala has hosted a daily market since the 11th century and in the evenings has an animated nightlife of wine bars and gourmet restaurants attended by the young and trendy locals.

The centro storico (historic centre) is extremely well preserved, whether it's the Palazzo Communale, with her striking Medici family insignia, the 11th century Bishop's palace with her crenellated and imposing fortified structure or the Romanesque cathedral with her inspiring vaulted frescoes. A wonderful, albeit eerie, highlight of the area is the medieval town hospital, the Ospedale del Ceppo, her exterior adorned with painted engravings. Beneath it lies a maze of haunting, vaulted tunnels that were built in the 13th century during the Black Plague, when the hospital direly needed to expand and, in doing so, had to redirect the river underground.

What Not to miss

  • The markets: Piazza del Duomo is taken over by a market every Wednesday and Saturday, where you can buy everything from locally-sourced fruit and veg to objets d'art. The market in Piazza della Sala, surrounded by wine bars, restaurants and boutique shops, has been here every day since the 11th century.
  • Art: the gorgeous open-air museum Fattoria di Celle lies amidst gardens and meadows. Stunning works of modernist art lie amongst the flowers, making it a very different day out. The Palazzo del Tau hosts epic works of modernist sculptures by the likes of Marino Marini and bittersweet frescoes by Nicolo di Tommaso.
  • Historic centre: the Piazza del Duomo is rich in history. Climb her 67 high bell tower and see the city sprawling beautiful before your feet, unchanged since the days of Dante, or visit the Bishop's palace, the Romanesque San Zeno cathedral or the Palazzo Communale. Beneath the Ospedale del Ceppo lie vaulted tunnels created during the Black Plague and are a unique way of seeing the town's dark and troubled past.
  • Music: in July, the annual Blues Festival - the biggest in Tuscany - takes over the cathedral square, and is not to be missed.

Pistoia is a beautiful city steeped in history, art and style. While largely unknown to many, she has rightly earned the nickname "Little Tuscany" due to her glamour and grandeur and the best places to stay in Pistoia prize these things above all else.

The best places to stay in Pistoia

For Local exploring

  • Villa Parri is an historic property located just outside town, up in the hills. Rooms and suites are elegant and traditional, plus there's a gorgeous garden and lovely pool for lazy days.

For an apartment or villa

  • Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of villas and apartments for those who prefer the option of self-catering.

Travel information

  • The best time to visit is during the summer months, when the temperature peaks at around 32 degrees celcius.
  • If you would like to rent a car, contact our partner Rentalcars.
  • Florence Airport is the nearest to Pistoia and is 40km away.

Still not sure?

Best Hotels in Pistoia

  • Villa Parri Pistoia PT 13 rooms from £62

    An historic home set in the Tuscan hills above Pistoia, surrounded by landscaped gardens containing a riot of flora typical of the region, a welcoming pool and a sauna. Rooms and apartments are furnished in typical stately style with antiques, rich fabrics and marble. A sophisticated treat!

    Romantic Break  -  With its polished antiques, sumptuous furnishings and pretty whimsical gardens it is ideal for a romantic getaway
    Local exploring  -  A glorious base from which to explore Lucca, Florence and Montecatini, while Pistoia itself is a gem
    Sights nearby  -  Don't miss Pistoia's beautiful medieval square and hidden gems like the medieval town of Vinci, Cutigliano or Montecatini Terme
    Great walks  -  Pistoia Apennine Mountains offer several hiking trails, great for walking or for mountain bikes
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays
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