Tuscany is full of worth-seeing locations which are part of touristy itineraries. Florence, Siena, Lucca and Livorno are only some of the most renowned cities to explore in this beautiful region.
Despite being less known than them, Pistoia is one of the several must-sees which are off the beaten path.
Founded during the Roman Times under the name of Pistoria, it was meant to be a place to stop at and rest for the Roman army who was fighting against the Ligures to rule over the North-western area of Italy. In fact the name Pistoria refers to the bakeries where Roman soldiers were used to eat: today local bakers recount this ancient tradition with joy and proud.
Many centuries later, Pistoia became part of Lombards and Franks belongings: ultimately it was ruled by the Republic of Florence’s authorities. However, this is exactly when Pistoia became a flourishing political and cultural centre, a travel destination for artists and poets who adorned the town.
Today, Pistoia still keeps its medieval appearance which makes its atmosphere fascinating and unique: this is why it is among the recommended cities for Florence Day Trips.
In Pistoia, culinary traditions, tastes and flavours were handed down for generations so you cannot miss the chance to discover Pistoia through its tasty dishes, like the Carcerato Soup.
Check out below to discover Pistoia’s highlights and its most typical dish.
What to see in Pistoia
Located in a valley at just 1 hour driving from Florence, Pistoia is well connected both by the highway and by train. Its must sees are all located in the city center within walkable distance.
Start from the lovely Piazza del Duomo, where there are the headquarters of religious, political and legal power. The impressive Pistoia Cathedral, which probably dates back to the X Century, has been built in Romanesque style and it is provided with a Bell Tower and a Baptistery. Later, it was adorned with Renaissance and Baroque decorations too. The Cathedral is home to the silver altar dedicated to St. Jacopo: many artists worked on this project and even Filippo Brunelleschi, who built Florence Cathedral’s Dome too. The entrance to the Cathedral is free and it is open every day.
Another must see is certainly the Baptistery built and decorated in Gothic style with white and green marbles from Carrara and Prato. Again, you can visit the Baptistery for free.
If your aim is to experience the medieval atmosphere of the town, take a short walk along Via della Torre, located just a few steps away from the Cathedral. This is one of oldest streets of Pistoia, covered here and there with brick red arches.
Taste the Carcerato Soup: a typical Pistoia dish
As many Tuscan specialties, the Carcerato soup is made of simple ingredients: in fact it was originally meant for prisoners.
Many centuries ago in Pistoia, the jail was surrounded by slaughterhouses with meat scrap at a low price. Since they were very common and easy to find, chefs created a soup recipe made of scrap, stale, cheese and pepper.
To prepare the Carcerato Soup, boil the steer scrap for about 10 minutes. Then, mix together with carrot, oil and onion and cook for 3 hours on low heat.
Finally, put the sliced bread in a pan and pour over the soup, cooking for 45 minutes more.
Today, you can taste Carcerato Soup only in some local Trattoria because it takes a long time to be cooked. Among the recommended ones, we can name Trattoria La Bettola near Pistoia Cathedral.