There are many itineraries to choose from once here. There are many itineraries linked to history (the villas), to spirituality (the Via Francigena, the worship of Saint Jacopo), to nature (Padule di Fucecchio, Svizzera Pesciatina, Montalbano, Giardini tematici (thematic gardens), Strada di Leonardo (The Street of Leonardo), to sport (hiking, excursions and cycling), to oenogastronomy (Chocolate valley, chestnuts, cheese), to music (itineraries and the musical tradition of the organs), routes linked to locations of many films. For a search into the history and culture of this corner of Tuscany, by means of thematic routes, with an eye on nature and the landscapes.
The territory of Pistoia is rich in traditions. Throughout the year historical and religious commemorations, folk events, festivals, fairs and folkloristic feasts take place in the cities and in the small villages, rooted in the culture of the Tuscan people, offering endless opportunities to those who want to plunge into the millenary history of this province. During these events it is almost always possible to taste products and typical local dishes. In the Pistoia region, there are important music festivals: the Pistoia Festival (in Pistoia in July) offers many interesting events of music, cinema, literature and traditions during the entire month of July.
The event ranges from opera to cinema in open-air venues up to celebrations for the city’s patron saint, San Jacopo. But the most important event is the Pistoia Blues Festival, one of the most important and well-known blues music events in the world. In July and August the “music itineraries – Festival of Acoustic Paths”, an initiative promoted by the Department of Culture of the area since twenty-years ago, offers free concerts held in squares and in evocative ancient villages on the territory of Pistoia, involving both emerging as well as well-known artists. In Pistoia The Season of Chamber Music takes place (from January to June) and a Symphonic Orchestra Season (between October and March); in Quarrata the Border Land Music event takes place (in March), in Serravalle Pistioese, instead, the Serravalle Jazz festival takes place in last week of August. The Giostra dell’ Orso takes place in Pistoia on July 25th, on the day of San Jacopo, patron saint of the city. This is an equestrian tournament in which four districts of the city compete in skills in the beautiful Piazza del Duomo, covered for the occasion with clay.
Three days before the tournament the investiture ceremony of the statue of the patron saint is held, visible on the cusp of the facade of the Cathedral. The red mantle remains on the shoulders of San Jacopo throughout the celebrations. At Epiphany in Pistoia a representation of the old Befana flying from the Tower of Catilina to reach the children awaiting their sweets, has to stop due to a breakdown of her broom and finds shelter in the Cathedral’s bell tower. Then, she is saved by the firefighters who repair the broom allowing her to reach the piazza.
The traditional Feast of S. Bartolomeo takes place in Pistoia on the 24th of August. It dates back to the 15th century when the custom to anoint the children on their forehead to protect them from the threats of spirits was introduced. Every St. Bartolomeo’s day since, liturgical celebrations and blessings are held all day long in the church of S. Bartolomeo: children and adults, are anointed by the priests who mark the forehead with blessed oil saying an ancient prayer to invoke the saint’s protection. The festivity of Saint Celestina, instead, is held in San Marcello Pistoiese on the 8th of September. At the end of the eighteenth century, the Montgolfier Brothers left some drawings of balloons to a noble family who then used them to build a hot air balloon launched for the first time in 1854 during the city celebrations of the holy patron saint day. Every year, on September the 8th, on the day of the festivity dedicated to Santa Celestina, the rite is renewed and a large and colourful hot air balloon is released up into the sky.
In Pescia, in the suggestive Piazza Grande, on the first Sunday of September, there is a great celebration: the Palio dei Rioni, an archery competition between the town’s four districts, with origins dating back to 1339. The festivities begin on the Sunday before the competition, with a medieval market. Throughout the week dinners and historical evocations take place in the main square and in the various districts. The real ceremony is preceded by a procession with a medieval parade including swordfighting and flag-wavers shows. During Good Friday the Passion of Christ is staged on the occasion of the so-called “Festa Bella”. The annual ceremony is alternately staged on Good Fridays in one of the villages: Casalguidi, Quarrata or Montevettolini. The provincial territory of Pistoia boasts a manifold of museums with a rich variety of proposals. The museums are active in proposing temporary initiatives together with their rich heritage. Besides the Civic Museums in the various townships, we particularly mention the Ecomuseum of Pistoia (with museums and open-air museums), the Contemporary Art Museum and the Museum of the City and the territory of Monsummano, the Bonsai Museum and the Gipsoteca Libero Andreotti in Pescia, the Monumental Park of Pinocchio and the historical Garzoni Garden and the Butterfly House in Collodi, the Documentation Centre Giovanni Michelucci, the Marine Museum, Fattoria di Colle, the Pistoia Trust Jorio Vivarelli, Palazzo Fabroni, the Museum of Surgical Instruments and Anatomic Hall of the Ceppo Hospital, the Embroidery Museum, Tactile Museum “La Città da toccare” (The City to Touch), UFIP Trust in Pistoia, Villa La Magia in Quarrata, Ponte Sospeso delle Ferriere in Mammiano, Embroidery Museum “Punto Casale” – Casalguidi