Straying from the beaten path is route to wonderful gems

Carol Forster reveals a secret Tuscan gem
Carol Forster reveals a secret Tuscan gem

I am sure all seasoned Italy travellers will head straight to the beautiful cities of Tuscany to enjoy those places so often found in the guide books.

However, I think it’s always exciting to go a little off the beaten track and mooch around towns which do not generally get the same attentions lavished on them. How about visiting the Tuscan city of Pistoia?

Apart from anything else, it is in prime position as it isn’t far from the splendid towns of Florence, Lucca and Pisa so if you were to base yourself here, those day trips would be well worth taking.

Pistoia has a very rich history which shows in the gorgeous Baroque, Renaissance and Medieval buildings, with its many churches and palazzi.

It is not far either from the meandering hills of Montalbano which are not to be confused with that stunning Sicilian television series!

‘Piazza del Duomo’ is medieval loveliness at its best and the Campanile a very impressive vision too.

As for the octagonal Baptistry, you will be really taken with its stripey marbled effect ( a sight you will also see on Siena’s Duomo)

‘Sant’Andrea’ church has the most beautiful pulpit which was designed by Pisano.

It’s an exquisite example of artistry and incredible to think that it was created by human hands.

‘Piazza della Sala’, typical of Italy, is a square which can transform from daytime cafe culture to evening fun. It also has a market which is great to root around in.

For those who have macabre tendencies, you could visit the ‘Ospedale del Ceppo’ which has a collection of surgical instruments, if that’s your kinda thing. It is quite the sort of place to avoid pre-op though!

‘Il Museo di Pistoia Sotteranea’ is also fascinating as it is a vaulted underground part of the town with long ‘corridors’ connecting different parts of the city.

There is a lot to explore in Pistoia, and you could spend some time here enjoying the sights and the ambience.

Moreover, it is always good to know that you’re only a stone’s throw away from Siena, Florence and Lucca!

A perfect destination.