Day 38 – Pistoia

Today we visited a museum of emboidery, Museo del Ricamo, located in a palazzo in Pistoia’s historic center. The docent, Anna, showed us many treasures in the museum.

This particular altar piece is stunning in its detail. Anna told us she has seen it thousands of times and each time she sees something new.

Drawers of beautiful embroidery are there to be discovered.

Next we walked into Pistoia’s old medieval center, where many remnants from that time are still visible. The flat slabs lining the streets were once counters for merchants who kept their goods in the spaces behind.

This butcher shop sells only horse meat. Surprised to see this type of specialization, I went in and found that the counter held meat that looked just like beef: patties, filets, stew meat and other cuts.

We ate lunch next door at a place called Gargantua, indicating the size of the meal we had. They put out slabs laden with all kinds of meats and cheeses, including the raw beef balls on the left. I tried it but it seemed tasteless. I will not try it again.

The piazza is piled with boxes after the market vendors have left. Pistoia has a big market every Saturday and lessor markets on other days. The piazzas fill then empty as the vendors and shoppers come and go.

Michela, our guide for a walking tour of Pistoia, showed us a building feature unique to Tuscany. Families that had vineyards would sell their wine directly to consumers, who would bring their empty bottles to fit into the slot and come away with wine for the table.

On our tour we found many traces of an artist by the name of Blub, who creates this street art in Pistoia and Florence.

We next visited a candy store called Bruno Corsini, where they make confetti. We throw small bits of paper as confetti at weddings, but Italians throw real candy. The shop is over 100 years old, and the granddaughter of founder Bruno Corsini showed us how they make their confetti from an ancient recipe using just sugar, water and spices.

The syrup is boiled for hours at just the right temperature.

Michela then took us to the Duomo, where a relic of San Jacopo can be found in a side chapel. Pistoia is on the pilgrimage route because sometime in the Middle Ages, a bishop in Pistoia arranged to have a piece of San Jacopo’s body sent from Santiago de Compostela to Pistoia.

From then on, pilgrims came to Pistoia as part of their devotion, increasing the riches of the city through their presence. A model of San Jacobo stands in the Duomo next to his chapel.

After being wedded, this happy couple posed in front of the town hall with their dog.

Unfortunately another dog participated, causing some consternation.

We had dinner at the Ristorante Rafanelli, a very fine eating establishing renowned for its steak.

None of us craved a dessert after that meal, but, despite receiving no orders, the waiters kindly brought these little bits of sweetness on brigidini, thin wafers with a slight licorice taste. These wavers are said to originate in the middle of the 16th century from those used in church, created by nuns devoted to Santa Brigida.

Tomorrow we have a plaiting workshop.

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