PISTOIA & PRATO PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

PISTOIA

The Province of Pistoia found in Northern Tuscany has its east-west boundaries equidistant from the major Tuscan cities of Florence and Lucca, rich in cultural and architectural heritage.

An alluring landscape revealing itself to explorers via its harmonious natural beauty and artistic masterpieces. Welcoming traveller and photographer alike with a variety of traditions, celebrations, events and attractions the region has to offer during the entire year.

One of Tuscany’s larger provinces, encompassing flat regions, marshlands, valleys, hills and mountains to the North.

An inviting journey through bygone days, where Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque ages radiate grandeur from the palaces, loggias and churches of Pistoia and Pescia. Here man's history weaves together with architecture, an area where the discovery of castles and churches equally-rich in historical and artistic detail are abound throughout the province.

Across the board, those who appreciate nature will admire the extraordinary variety of the landscape and natural environment.

From the rolling hills of the Colline Montalbano and the Svizzera Pesciatina, lush green summers and snow-covered winters, the Padule wetlands in Fucecchio and the Querciola woods in Quarrata.

You will be taking a journey back in time when visiting Italy’s Capital of Culture 2017, Pistoia. A full immersion in history whilst purveying the diverse architecture of a unique Centro Storico, historic centre, including the Piazza del Duomo.

Immediately upon entry, the evidence of the city's Roman origins appears, an unexpected series of palaces, cloisters, churches and art treasures transport you back to an ancient past.

Amidst narrow Medieval streets and unevenly-shaped piazzas, prestigious palaces and tower-houses, an unpredicted city emerges, bearing an extrinsic and discrete charm

Twenty miles to the west of Pistoia, we reach Pescia, a city with Medieval origins, belonging to both banks of the river Pescia from which the name is taken.

The west bank is the centre’s foundation with its characteristic, elongated Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini and nearby Gipsoteca Libero Andreotti Civic Museum with its plaster cast collection, while on the east lies Pescia's religious hub.

Starting from Porta Fiorentina, heading north along Via Giuseppe Giusti, past Church of San Giuliano we arrive at the Duomo (Cathedral), re-built at the end of the 17th Century.

Right opposite is the Church Santa Maria Maddalena, and next to the Cathedral is the Seminary Cloister and the nearby Oratory of Sant'Antonio Abate, where the wooden sculpture The Ugly Saint that dates back to the 13th Century, can be found.

Located between Pistoia and Pescia are Montecatini and Monsummano renowned for their curative thermal waters. Montecatini Terme offers over 50,000 sqm of thermal structures and 9 beautiful spas immersed in the beautiful parks.

Comprising the spas of Tettuccio, Regina, Leopoldine, La Salute, Torretta, Redi, Excelsior, Tamerici, and the Grocco Thermal Institute which provide a complete system of treatment therapies. These are the purest salty-sulphate-alkaline water, plentiful in precious minerals and unique worldwide.

Monsummano Terme is an infamous spa utilising natural steam procured from warm and natural caves, enjoyed in the spa establishments constructed next to them.

A ten-mile drive to the northwest takes us to Collodi renowned for giving Carlo Lorenzini - the author of The Adventures of Pinocchio - his nom de plume, Carlo Collodi.

At the Parco di Pinocchio, it is possible to relive the tale of the famous wooden puppet through creations realized by famous artists from the 20th Century, including Emilio Greco, Giovanni Michelucci, Pietro Porcinai and Venturino Venturi.

Collodi is a hamlet perched on the hill in the Comune of Pescia and home to Villa Garzoni, with its monumental 18th-century Italian garden, built shortly before 1652. This is one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy with its flower beds, manicured lawns, walkways, statues, fountains, water features and lovers maze!

The Collodi Butterfly House was inaugurated in 2007 and is home to hundreds of butterflies from tropical and equatorial areas, where the largest and most colourful butterflies are found.

It has restored a wonderful butterfly population to the Garzoni Garden and is a splendid greenhouse of stone and self-supporting glass. The structure is bright and air-conditioned for perfect temperature and humidity.

The northernmost part of the province is called Svizzera Pesciatina, a mountainous area of some fifty square miles, where waterways, chestnut forests, paper mills, remnant ancient walls and picturesque views open onto the valley.

It was also formerly known as Valleriana, here we discover ten characteristic small Medieval villages, dotted among the hills and mountains, in pietra serena, a local sandstone, which is still extracted and worked in this area.

The villages referred to as Castella are Pietrabuona, Medicina, Fibbialla, Aramo, Sorana, San Quirico, Castelvecchio, Stiappa, Pontito and Vellano.

All the castles are connected by road and to the Valleriana Trekking trails that allow photographers to visit the Svizzera Pesciatina via five four-to-six-hour treks.

Overnight stays in the refuge Uso di Sotto is available for those planning on taking differing trails each day.

The Padule di Fucecchio is a marshland basin found in the Valdinievole area south of the Pistoia Apennines, located between Montalbano and the Colline della Cerbaia.

Marshlands where various plants adapted to different climates flourish, providing a crucial stopover on the bird migration routes between the Tyrrhenian coast and the inland.

It is possible to observe over 190 birds’ species throughout the year, including seventy nesting birds. during the reproductive period, which is the most important Garzaia, nesting colony, in central Italy.

Another exceptional area rich in history, art and tradition, is Montalbano, amongst the most beautiful in Tuscany.

Embracing an area traversing the Provinces of Florence, Pistoia and Prato, where hills rich in chestnut woods, vineyards and olive groves, offering photographers unlimited access to a rural landscape that is still some of the most intact.

An exuberant destination for exploration, along winding ancient roads such as the Strada dell’ olio e del vino del Montalbano - Le colline di Leonardo, accompanied by the characteristic villages and typical local products, Da Vinci, who inhabited these parts, adored.

Parts of the Tuscan Apennines are a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts, assuring some of the most beautiful and best-equipped ski resorts, including Abetone and Doganaccia.

This is the northern area of the province that shares its borders with Emilia-Romagna. An entire area providing equipped mountain shelters, even on some of the mountaintops, offering unique vantage points and breath-taking views.

During the warmer seasons, the ski district is still a welcome destination for photographers who choose to stay in close contact with nature. Experience the numerous hiking trails and enjoy making captures in these wonderful natural surroundings

The Tuscany found on these paths is a land notably untrodden, far from crowded tourist routes, where Photographers create unique itineraries, whilst selecting from the copious opportunities presented by the province.

Pistoia itself holds a number of important music festivals. The Pistoia Festival, held every July is comprised of current musical, cinematic, literary and traditional events and runs for the entire month.

In a variety of open-air venues, Operas and films are presented as celebrations for the city's Patron Saint, San Jacopo. Top of the bill is the Pistoia Blues Festival, one of the most significant and well-known blues music events in the world.

The Festival of Acoustic Paths, for the last 20 years, during July and August, offers free concerts held in piazzas and evocative ancient villages, involving both emerging and well-known artists.

On July 25th, the Feast Day San Jacopo, the Giostra dell' Orso takes place in Pistoia. An equestrian tournament in which four districts of the city Joust and battle in the splendid Piazza del Duomo which is clay covered for the event.

The traditional Feast of St. Bartholomew dating back to the 15th Century takes place in Pistoia on the 24th of August. When the customary anointing of children’s foreheads protects them from the threat of any unwelcome spirits.

In the Piazza Grande Pescia, the Palio dei Rioni falls on the first Sunday of September, an archery competition between the town's four districts, dating back to 1339.

On the Sunday before the competition, the festivities begin, with a Medieval market followed by dinners and historical re-enactments taking place in the main piazza and various districts, throughout the week.

We truly believe that every province of Tuscany has something beautiful and unique to offer, as we do your research in advance, you can’t really go wrong, in destinations where you can have everything.

Oh, before we forget, if you love food, this is truly the food heaven. Tuscany is indeed the essence of Italy in many ways.

The sheer quantity of subject matter, mixed with a wonderful Mediterranean climate makes this an ideal location to explore your photography, learn new techniques and create lasting memories from your finest photography tour.

Tap the PRATO tab above to continue reading.

PRATO

The Province of Prato shares its borders, in the east with the province of Pistoia, to the west The Metropolitan City of Florence and neighbouring region Emilia-Romagna in the North.

This is the smallest province in the region of Tuscany and its capital is the city of Prato. An area comprised of the seven municipalities of Cantagallo, Carmignano, Montemurlo, Poggio a Caiano, Prato, Vaiano and Vernio.

Primarily known for its influential textile districts, the Province of Prato is less-known for the historic works of beauty, where traditions blend with the fascinating scenery, creating a novel dynamic that is modern and fresh.

An interesting and varied terrain offering historic and artistic attractions of significance alongside the discovery of Etruscan, Medieval, and contemporary treasures.

Tuscany’s second-largest city, Prato, is found at the foot of Monte Retaia one of the highest mountains of the Calvana mountain range in Tuscany. Bisected by the Bisenzio River, a tributary of the Arno and close to Florence, Siena, Pisa and Lucca.

The city's foundations rest woven in the realms of art, nature and its economy historically in the textile sector. A history which is still as evident in present times, as major textile brands and labels maintain international recognition for the quality of production.

An important industrial centre, considering, manufacturing, textiles, chemical and mechanical sectors, it possesses notable well-conserved Medieval and Renaissance monuments of historical and artistic value, thanks to the circuit of defensive walls built in the 12th-century.

Prato proposes innumerable historical-artistic and architectural attractions for photographers to consider and capture.

An incredible diversity of churches, convents, walled castles, palaces, museums and a plethora of contemporary art, including Henry Moore's very notable marble Square Form with Cut, near Piazza San Marco.

In the historic centre, the Castello dell' Imperatore, Emperor's Castle, pays testimony to the unique Swabian architecture of central-southern Italy.

The venerated relic of the Holy Belt of the Madonna, the Sacra Cintola della Madonna, along with recently restored frescoes by Filippo Lippi is housed in the Duomo Santo Stefano. A splendid example of Romanesque-Gothic Tuscan, with a beautiful bell tower and external pulpit by Donatello and Michelozzo.

The façade of the Duomo characterised by bold contrasting stripes of alberese white and serpentine green marble, used in many churches and palazzi throughout Tuscany.

Choice in Prato is limitless, from the Palazzo Datini, Palazzo Pretorio, the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Carceri in Giuliano da Sangallo or the Churches of San Francesco and San Domenico.

The Museo del Tessuto is hosted in the old “Cimatoria Campolmi Leopoldo e C.” factory. This historic building is an archaeological monument of the textile industry and the only large 19th-century factory inside the medieval walls.

The cities textiles history is presented with cloth swatches, documents, objects and old wool-combing machines dating from the 15th Century to the present day.

The Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art continues to operate on an international level and is one of the most important permanent collections in Italy, comprising major works from the last 30 years.

Home to more than a thousand artworks by over 300 artists and the structure itself is a work of art covering four thousand square meters of exhibition space.

The remainder of the Provincial territory overflows with treasures from the Etruscan and necropolises finds in Artimino and Comeana as well as the recent excavations, east of Prato in Gonfienti.

Dispersed in the zone of Carmignano we find Romanesque churches including the Church of San Michele and Francesco home of the glorious Pontormo Visitation.

The Abbeys of Val di Bisenzio, the Medieval hamlets, splendid Medicean Villas of Ambra in Poggio a Caiano and La Ferdinanda in Artimino, the Quinto Martini Park Museum in Seano and the entire system of protected natural parks including Monteferrato, Calvana and the Acquerino-Cantagallo Natural Reserve.

Irrespective of the size of the province Prato is still capable of offering a varied calendar of historical festivals and events which take place throughout the year.

Without a doubt, the most important event is the Ostensione della Sacra Cintola, in Prato. Townsfolk dress in period costume making their way through the city and converging in the Piazza del Duomo.

Using three separate keys the treasure chest of the Sacred Cintola is opened to the public five times annually comprised of Easter, May 1st, August 15th, 8th September and Christmas.

The cities festivities during September are bolstered by fairs and the Settembre Prato é Spetacolo, where over two hundred events, concerts, shows, fashion stands and the Palla Grossa are enjoyed by those in attendance.

The Palla Grossa is a physical tournament between four teams who play a novel mix between football, rugby and sumo wrestling in medieval attire.

The three-day Feast for its Patron Sant Michele, in the main piazza, becomes the focal point in the town of Carmignano.

During these days the neighbourhood becomes a stage of ‘street theatre’ where the four ‘quarters’ perform live and are judged on a daily basis to select the eventual winner.

Once the shows are finished, one rider from each quarter is entered into the annual donkey race, the “Palio di Ciuchi”. The Palio is won by means of a two-lap race around the main piazza of Carmignano. The same piazza is decorated each December during a notable Ancient Fair.

Poggio a Caiano, famous for being home to one of the most beautiful Medicean villas in Tuscany, plays host to the Assedio alla Villa during the third week of September.

An event that re-evokes the grand celebrations that accompanied the arrival of Joanna of Austria, betrothed to Francesco de' Medici, in Tuscany in 1565, consisting of a historical reenactment that transforms the town into a Renaissance village.

The famous battle of 1537 between the exiled Florentines, led by Baccio Valori and Filippo Strozzi, owners of the Villa del Barone and the Villa Strozzi, respectively, and the troops of Cosimo I de' Medici is reenacted the last day of the month of June at the Historic Court of Montemurlo.

We truly believe that every province of Tuscany has something beautiful and unique to offer, as we do your research in advance, you can’t really go wrong, in destinations where you can have everything.

Oh, before we forget, if you love food, this is truly the food heaven. Tuscany is indeed the essence of Italy in many ways.

The sheer quantity of subject matter, mixed with a wonderful Mediterranean climate makes this an ideal location to explore your photography, learn new techniques and create lasting memories from your finest photography tour.

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TOWNS AND CITIES IN THE PROVINCE OF PISTOIA

Abetone, Agliana, Buggiano, Chiesina Uzzanese, Cutigliano, Lamporecchio, Larciano, Lucchesia, Marliana, Massa e Cozzile, Monsummano Terme, Montale, Montecatini-Terme, Pescia, Pieve a Nievole, Pistoia, Piteglio, Ponte Buggianese, Popiglio (Ponte di Castruccio), Quarrata, Sambuca Pistoiese, San Marcello Pistoiese, Serravalle Pistoiese, Sorana and Uzzano.

TOWNS AND CITIES IN THE PROVINCE OF PRATO

Cantagallo, Carmignano, Montemurlo, Poggio a Caiano, Prato, Vaiano and Vernio.

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