Pistoia
Pistoia

Guide to visit Pescia in Tuscany

Discovering Pescia, the city of flowers

Pescia is a pleasant town located in the north-western area of ​​the Valdinievole, of which it is the historical capital, on the border between the province of Pistoia and that of Lucca.

Like many other Tuscan cities, Pescia also has medieval origins; according to some studies its foundation dates back to the Lombard domination and since then the village developed constantly until obtaining the status of free municipality. This growth came to a standstill in 1281 when the city was conquered and devastated by the Lucchesi, but after only a few years the village was rebuilt. In 1339 Pescia became part of the possessions of Florence and later of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; in 1699 it was declared a city, while in 1727 it obtained its own episcopal see.

Pescia was the protagonist, in spite of himself, even during the Second World War when, due to its position at a short distance from the Gothic line, it suffered German bombing which caused very considerable damage.

Today Pescia is known above all for its flourishing (it’s really the case to say it) nursery activity and for the production of paper.

Guide to visit Pescia

Pescia has inherited from its medieval past a peculiar urban conformation in which two poles are distinguished, the religious and the civil, which are well separated from each other by the river that runs through the city. On the eastern shore we find the nucleus that developed around the Duomo (the religious center), while on the west we have the buildings that represent civil power.

Palazzo del Podestà

We begin the visit of Pescia from the part where the civil power resides and in particular with the Palazzo del Podestà, also known as the “Palagio”. Built between the 12th and 13th centuries, this palace is one of the most beautiful and significant monuments in all of Pescia’s historic center; on its facade some coats of arms can be admired while inside we find the Gipsoteca “Libero Andreotti”. Here we find as many as 230 works by Libero Andreotti, a native sculptor from Pescia, that exhaustively document the entire production of this artist.

Openings:
Friday: 15.00 -18.00
Saturday: 10.00 -12.30 and 16.00 -19.30
Sunday: 10.00 -12.30 and 16.00 -19.30

Free entry

Guide to visit Pescia - Palazzo del Podestà in Pescia
Palazzo del Podestà (Photo by Mon1984 / CC BY)

Chiesa dei Santi Stefano e Niccolao

The chiesa dei Santi Stefano e Niccolao is practically attached to the Palagio even if its entrance is on another square. It is a very ancient church, since it appears in documents since 1068, although over the centuries it has undergone several more or less important changes.

Inside you can admire some valuable works such as the so-called Madonna dell’Acquavino (Pisan school, late 14th century), a San Michele and a San Sebastiano attributed to Agostino Ciampelli and the large wooden crucifix (second half of the 18th century) which is on the altar.

Palazzo del Vicario

Palazzo del Vicario is the current headquarters of the Municipality of Pescia and is located in Piazza Mazzini, the historic center of civil life in the city. As well as the Palazzo del Podestà, also the Palazzo del Vicario shows some coats of arms on the façade; these in particular belong to the vicars who ruled between the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Remarkable building of medieval origin, this palace offers several points of interest.
On the ground floor we find the Cappella dei Caduti, characterized by geometric decorations alternating with coats of arms, where we can admire the statue that represents the “Libertà alata” (“Winged Freedom”) created by Libero Andreotti. In the entrance we find a painting depicting Domenico Buonvicini, the man who introduced the white mulberry tree in the city for the breeding of the silkworm, while on the second floor there is the Sala del Consiglio with the frescoes reproducing the coats of arms of the podestàs.

On the right, finally, under the clock tower, there are the rooms that were once used as a municipal prison.

Things to do in Pescia visit Palazzo del Vicario
Palazzo del Vicario (Photo by Mirko Luigi Fioreschi / CC BY)

Chiesa della Madonna di Pie’ di Piazza

The Chiesa della Madonna di Pie’ di Piazza was built in Renaissance style in 1447 probably on a design by Andrea Cavalcanti known as Il Buggiano. The building is characterized externally by a series of large arches, while inside you can admire a rich wooden ceiling made in 1609 and a fresco, Madonna and Child, dating back to the 15th century.

At this point, all that remains is to cross the Ponte del Duomo to reach the center of Pescia’s religious life.

Duomo di Pescia

The Cathedral of Pescia (the Duomo), which today is presented in baroque style, has a very ancient origin: its origin could date back to the fifth century and we know with certainty that in 857 this church had the title of parish. The current forms date back to the reconstruction of 1684 and follow the project of the Florentine architect Antonio Maria Ferri. The facade, which remained unfinished until the end of the nineteenth century, was built by Giuseppe Castellucci with elements in neoclassical style and completed only in 1933 with the inclusion of the marble portal.

Among the most interesting works to be found inside the Duomo, we mention the Virgin with Saints by Luigi Norfini, the San Carlo which communicates the plague victims of Pietro Donzelli and the Nativity of the Virgin by Giuseppe Bottani.

The Cathedral of Pescia
The Cathedral of Pescia (Photo by Mon1984 / CC BY)

Chiesa di San Francesco

We conclude our itinerary in Pescia reaching Piazza San Francesco. Here we find the Teatro Comunale Giovanni Pacini and the Chiesa di San Francesco.

Built from the 13th century, the Church of San Francesco presents variegated architectural elements, referable to various styles, which give the idea of how over the centuries the building has undergone numerous alterations. Inside the church you can admire a series of monumental chapels such as the Orlandi-Cardini (1453-1458), that of the Immacolata Concezione and the cappella maggiore. Among the works of art that can be admired in the church, the panel St. Francis and stories from his life by Bonaventura Berlinghieri (1235) is particularly noteworthy. It was painted a few years after the saint’s death and represents the first work dedicated to Franciscan stories.

Bonaventura Berlinghieri - St. Francis and stories from his life
Bonaventura Berlinghieri – St. Francis and stories from his life

Where to go around Pescia

Pescia is located in Valdinievole, an area rich in history and natural beauty. In the municipal area of Pescia we point out a couple of very interesting medieval parish churches: the first is the pieve di San Quirico which is located in the town of the same name and the second is the beautiful Romanesque pieve dei Santi Ansano e Tommaso located in Castelvecchio. Finally, I cannot fail to mention the town of Collodi which everyone knows thanks to the Adventures of Pinocchio. Coming to the other hamlets of the province of Pistoia, I recommend you visit the spa towns of Montecatini and Monsummano and the medieval village of Montecatini Alto.

How to get to Pescia

By train: Pescia has its own train station served by regional trains which is not very close to the historic center; fortunately there are buses (CTT Nord Lucca lines) that connect the station to the center.

By car: to reach Pescia by car, use the Firenze-Mare motorway (A 11) until reaching the Chiesina Uzzanese exit; from there to Pescia are only 8 km.

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