A weekend among bears and puppets in Pistoia


July is at almost at its end and the heat in Florence is stiffling. So this weekend I am planning once again to take off and the destination will be Pistoia. I personally love this city because when I go there I feel like going back to my childhood since as a small child, my parents would take me to Pinocchio’s Park in Collodi on my birthday. So I want to go back to the Park and take advantage and also visit the Garzoni Garden, a beautiful example of a Renaissance and Baroque Italian garden, and the recently opened Butterfly House, both located next to the park. After Collodi I want to go to Pescia, a town famous for its flowers. It’s a delightful city with many things to see, including the Cathedral and the Palazzo del Palagio.

Sunday morning, I am then headed toward Pistoia to attend the Joust of the Bear, an ancient tournament dating back to the 13th century. The Joust is between knights of the various quarters of the city, challenging each other in Piazza Duomo to use their spears against the bear. Tickets for the bleachers to see the joust can be purchased at the APT office in Piazza Duomo. Even though the tournament doesn’t start until 9.30 pm, there are many other related events throughout the day so I am intending to spend all day there. The city has a beautiful city center with many noble buildings, such as the Palazzo dei Vescovi and Palazzo Pretorio, stunning churches including the Cathedral of San Zeno and the Baptistery of St. John, and characteristic streets such as Via degli Orafi, one of the oldest streets. There are also other monuments and museums worth visiting but I am not sure I’ll get to do all that on Sunday. Pistoia really does deserve to be visited, a town not on anyone’s usual itinerary but for this reason all the more beautiful to discover. Definitely off the beaten path! Anyone else can make it on Sunday to the Joust of the Bear?

If you happen to make it to Pistoia this weekend, hope you enjoy both the event and the city. Have a nice weekend overall!